The problem Olmert’s sentence can’t fix

Corrupt officials who avoid jail pay no public price at all; until that changes, corruption won’t end.

By
May 19, 2014 16:23
ehud olmert

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert leaves Tel Aviv District Court May 13, 2014.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The six-year jail sentence received by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week has been hailed as a great victory in the war on corruption, a sentence sure to deter other officials. Former Tel Aviv District Court Judge Amnon Straschnov begs to differ. 

Writing in Israel Hayom, Straschnov offered three reasons why he fears Olmert’s bribery sentence won’t prove an effective deterrent. First, studies show the likelihood of getting caught is far more important in deterring criminals than the magnitude of the sentence. Second, corrupt politicians keep right on getting elected. And third, “there is no public or social denunciation of white-collar crimes”: Whereas rapists and murderers are shunned, white-collar criminals remain welcome in society, the media and even public office. 


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