Now that Ex-Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski and CFO Mark Swartz have each been sentenced to 8-1/3 to 25 years for stealing from Tyco,
Professor Bainbridge has opened up a discussion on his blog about about my piece in the Nation.
The comments are quite interesting, and they sadden me just a bit. What becomes clear to me reading over them is just how profoundly intertwined are the notions of criminality, race and class. The commenters write as if poor criminals don't experience shame, or loss or fear. What only rich white guys care about what their golfing buddies think? It's absurd, and, by the way, untrue. That my clients might feel an acute sense of shame being dragged away from their families and friends in handcuffs was never an issue I ever heard a judge or prosecutor even contemplate. And second, the suggestion that shame is a deterrent for this class of criminal is bollocks. Look at Alfred Taubman or Martha Stewart. Both came out of prison to nice dinner parties hosted by their old pals. Both picked up where they left off and went along their merry ways. None were shunned, and to read the gossip pages, neither even lost a friend over the little supposedly shameful matter of their criminality. The shame argument is both unsupportable and grotesque.