Ralph explains it all for you, the history and the consequences of the legal fiction that is corporate personhood. Then his associate, Francesco DeSantis, from the Center of Study of Responsive law updates us on progress being made to institute a corporate crime data base along the lines of the street crime database in order to track repeat corporate criminal offenders.
Francesco DeSantis is a public interest advocate and Outreach Coordinator at the Center for Study of Responsive Law. He has coordinated with the offices of Representative Mary Gay Scanlon and Senator Dick Durbin to get the Corporate Crime Database issue back on the Congressional agenda, and he’s advocated for it among members of Congress and consumer, labor, and environmental groups.
Once unleashed, [a corporation] doesn’t conform to normal human accountabilities. It doesn’t have the same level of shame or guilt. It can make a lot of mistakes and hurt a lot of people and still be credible.
It’s important for all of our listeners to know that corporations are not created by investors. They are created by state authority.
Limited liability was the yeast that unfurled the future elaborations of corporate power.
The Justice Department has every statutory authority to [create a corporate crime database] on their own. It completely, 100% falls within their purview to monitor crime, to attempt to arrest criminals, to prevent recidivism… So, we are very hopeful that the Justice Department will see the light on this issue.
If you think about the kind of crimes that corporations engage in, they would be completely beyond the pale for any individual.
If the American people—journalists, academics, prosecutors, and so on— were able to see that “X Corporation” committed a crime, committed it again, committed it a third time, and each time got basically no serious penalty, I think that that would go a long way towards the political movement to demand more from the corporate criminal enforcement division of the Department of Justice.