3 strikes law, good business

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Daily Forty-Niner (CSU Long Beach, CA)

Long Beach, Calif. — The three strikes law, whether we agree with it or not, is here to stay. On March 5 the Supreme Court upheld California’s toughest-in-the-nation three strikes sentencing law, which imprisons career criminals for at least 25 years upon a third felony conviction, regardless of the severity of the offense.

The Supreme Court “explicitly upheld the sentence of Gary Albert Ewing, 38, a convict in poor health who got 25 years to life for grand theft of three golf clubs worth $ 1,197,” the Washington Times reported. “He was previously imprisoned nine times for robbery, burglary and violating conditions of his release.”

Apparently crime is taken extremely serious here in California. Do we take corporate crime as seriously?

A “three strikes” bill that would prohibit companies with multiple convictions from doing business in California was launched in the Senate Tuesday.

This bill would essentially treat corrupt corporations in the same manner as individual criminals. This would make the way we treat crime more consistent because of the individual status companies achieve through incorporation.

Investorwords.com describes a corporation as “The process of becoming a corporation, called incorporation, gives the company separate legal standing from its owners and protects those owners from being personally liable in the event that the company is sued.” This means that the owners of a corporation are protected because the corporation is legally granted individual status separate from the owners. It makes logical sense that we should be equally as tough on corporations as we are on citizens.

The proposed bill, SB 335, is sponsored by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. Under the measure, a business convicted of three felonies in the state or federal courts in California would be prohibited from doing business in the state.

The California Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill because it would make corporations liable for their criminal activity.

A Chamber of Commerce lobbyist, Dominic DiMare, told the Los Angeles Times that he opposes the bill because “it was so broadly written that the criminal activity of only one company executive could set off a chain events that might bring the entire corporation down.”

What better deterrent against corruption could there be? Corporations must be responsible for the actions of its executives, even if it is only one. The Enron scandal may have been avoided had such laws been in place a few years ago.

On July 30, 2002, President Bush signed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in to law. The act introduced significant corporate governance and reporting changes to public companies that file reports or have registered securities with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But this law did not go far enough.

Sen. Gloria Romero told the L.A. Times that enforcement of existing laws that can put a corporation out of business is weak and seldom exercised. She also said that “current penalties are civil fines or financial settlements whose effects are short-lived and can be chalked up by corporate bad actors as merely the cost of doing business.”

The Enron scandal has taught us that we need to keep a closer watch on how corporations are doing business. Money and power are the two most influential corrupters in our society. Corporations are in the business of increasing both. It is only logical that we punish them as severely as we do living, breathing people.

Consumer Watchdog
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