Economics Regulations

Stanford GSB: “How to Stop White-Collar Crime”

Very good, short, recap of Judge Jed Rakoff’s views on what really deters corporate crime on the Stanford GSB site:


What incentive would work to change corporate behavior? The threat of prison, says Rakoff. “I found that to a person, [executives accused of white-collar crimes] feared prison, and they feared it mightily. They would have paid any amount of money, done anything to avoid going to prison. So prison does have a major deterrent effect,” he says.

Rakoff spent seven years prosecuting white-collar criminals as a federal prosecutor before shifting to a private practice, where he defended many of them for 15 years. He was appointed to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton in 1995 and now hears cases stemming from alleged criminality by corporations at the heart of this country’s financial system.

Unlike many federal judges, Rakoff has spoken out extensively on a variety of broad legal issues. He is the author of five books, 135 published articles, 600 speeches, and 1,500 judicial opinions. Rakoff says he feels it is part of a federal judge’s role to educate the public and legislators about the need to rethink the way white-collar crime is prosecuted and punished.

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