The question greatly troubles Gregg Barak, but he has answers, too.
Why are crimes of the suite punished more leniently than crimes of the street?
Barak, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at Eastern Michigan University, is a world-renowned authority on the subject of multinational corporate crime. This semester, he’s sharing that expertise while serving as a Fulbright Scholar in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and his newest book on corporate crime came out in March.
The title of Barak’s Fulbright Project is "Globalization, Illegalities, and Transnational Control: Theoretical and Practical Implications for Addressing the International Crimes of the Powerful." He is working in the School of Law at Pontificia Universidade Catoica do Rio Grande do Sul.
Since arriving in Brazil, he has also been invited to give a public lecture and to lead a discussion on globalization and crime at University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he will visit for a week in April.
His activities at Porto Alegre include teaching a graduate seminar in global criminology to doctoral students in criminal science, and working with two research groups of social scientists and law professors, one on the area of ethics, anticorruption and compliance; and one on law, economics, and regulation. He also is presenting a series of three public lectures on multinational corporate crime.
Barak has published widely on the crimes of the high and the mighty. He is the editor of “The Routledge International Handbook of the Crimes of the Powerful” and “Theft of a Nation: Wall Street Looting and Federal Regulatory Colluding.” In 2012, he won the National White Collar Crime Center/White Collar Crime Research Consortium’s Outstanding Book Award for “Theft of a Nation.”
His latest book, “Unchecked Corporate Power: Why the Crimes of Multinational Corporations are Routinized Away and What We Can Do About It” (Routledge) was published last month.
“When police killings of citizens go unpunished, political torture is sanctioned by the state, and the financial frauds of Wall Street traders remain unprosecuted, nothing succeeds with such regularity as the active failures of national states to obstruct the crimes of the powerful,” Barak says of the book.
The book is an unflinching and unforgiving exposé of the full range of the crimes of the powerful.
In it, Barak illustrates how legalized authorities and political institutions charged with the duty of protecting citizens from law-breaking activities have increasingly become enablers and colluders with the very enterprises they are obliged to regulate.
Reviewers cite the book as a thought-provoking examination of how the regulatory system tasked with controlling such acts has not only turned them into non-crimes, but has often facilitated their perpetration.
“More than a critique of corporate harms, “Unchecked Corporate Power” offers both a call and a model for fundamental restructuring of the political relationships between corporations, the public, and government,” said Raymond J. Michalowski, an Arizona Regents professor of criminology and criminal justice at Northern Arizona University.
Barak earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate at the University of California-Berkeley. At Eastern, he specializes in the areas of criminology, criminal justice, violence, media, globalization and corporate crime.