Federal law enforcement roundup

  • Manufacturing while foreign: Holman Jenkins compares Department of Justice’s handling of General Motors case with those of Toyota and Takata [WSJ, paywall]
  • “Electronic surveillance by the Drug Enforcement Administration has tripled over the past 20 years, and much of that increase has involved bypassing the federal courts.” [Brad Heath, USA Today via Balko]
  • Sen. Hatch: criminal justice reform needs to include reform on issue of mens rea/criminal intent [John Malcolm, Daily Signal]
  • Clinton administration tended to embed its anti-gun gestures in its then-popular carceral-state enactments [Jesse Walker on the 12-year lull in anti-gun legislation and whether it’s ending]
  • New DoJ policy on corporate criminal prosecutions risks scapegoating [Thaya Knight, Cato] Despite transient surge early in Obama years, federal white-collar crime prosecutions have now fallen to 20-year low [TRAC Reports]
  • A legal remedy should federal law enforcers falsely malign you in a press release? Dream on [Scott Greenfield]
  • If you oppose high U.S. incarceration rate, but wish more corporate executives went to prison, check your premises [Matt Kaiser, Above the Law]


  • Prosecuting corporate executives is something that needs to be decided on a case by case basis. I think the key is to show that the executive was actually the cause of the illegality. It shouldn’t be enough that he simply was the head of a company that did something illegal.

    The peanut butter executive was convicted of knowingly shipping food tainted with salmonella. Not just shoddy conditions, not just faking lab results, but actually knowingly shipping food that could – and did – kill people. This deserves prison even if you think the incarceration rate is currently too high, and I don’t see how anyone could disagree. I wouldn’t stop at the executives, either. If the guy who drove the truck knew he was delivering contaminated product, he should also be charged.

  • I agree — Kaiser may also agree, I’m not sure — that the peanut butter case was exceedingly egregious and that supporting prison time for the convicted executive is consistent with the wider opinion that the U.S. criminal justice system overuses prison time in both white-collar and blue-collar crime contexts.

  • David C, I agree to a point. I think that yes, if people have committed a crime they should be punished and that it looks like the peanut CEO committed a crime. That said, we go too quickly to prison and that’s a problem for white-collar as well as other crimes.