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Why Not Jail?
Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction


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  • Date Published: March 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107633940

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About the Authors
  • The US Department of Justice is under fire for failing to prosecute banks that caused the 2008 economic meltdown because they are too big to jail. Prosecutors have long neglected to hold corporate executives accountable for chronic mistakes that kill and injure workers and customers. This book, the first of its kind, analyzes five industrial catastrophes that have killed or sickened consumers and workers or caused irrevocable harm to the environment. From the Texas City refinery explosion to the Upper Big Branch mine collapse, the root causes of these preventable disasters include crimes of commission and omission. Although federal prosecutors have made a start on holding low-level managers liable, far more aggressive prosecution is appropriate as a matter of law, policy, and justice. Written in accessible and jargon-free language, this book recommends innovative interpretations of existing laws to elevate the prosecution of white-collar crime at the federal and state levels.

    • Written in plain English, so that any reader without a law degree could understand the events, policies, and limits of the law that it addresses
    • Each of the five industrial catastrophes that are addressed in the book - especially the Deepwater Horizon disaster - dominated the headlines for months
    • The book dissects the causes of these incidents in a clear and concise manner, and those analyses will be shocking to most readers who heard about their aftermath but did not realize the extent of malfeasance that produced them
    • Students and practitioners in the field of criminology, as well as lawyers and others involved in the criminal justice system, will find the book's treatment of industrial accidents and the dearth of prosecutions of those responsible for them both eye-opening and useful in their efforts to consider reform
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    • One of Corporate Crime Reporter's Top Ten Books of 2014

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Rena Steinzor's powerful and compelling Why Not Jail? Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction argues for criminal prosecution of both corporations and corporate executives … The core of her book is a close examination of a series of disasters - the BP oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, the Massey mine collapse, the contaminated drugs from the New England Compounding Center - showing that while unintentional, each of these industrial catastrophes was the direct result of corporate malfeasance, exactly the circumstance that should be punished criminally.' Robert Weissman, Public Citizen News

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107633940
    • length: 294 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.41kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Status Quo:
    1. Regulatory dysfunction
    2. White-collar crime today
    3. Cons and pros
    Part II. The Lessons of Catastrophe:
    4. Occupational disasters
    5. Environmental disaster
    6. Public health
    Part III. Solutions:
    7. A guilty mind
    8. Deferred prosecution agreements.

  • Author

    Rena Steinzor, University of Maryland, Baltimore
    Rena Steinzor is a Professor of Law at the University of Maryland's Francis King Carey School of Law. She is the president of the Center for Progressive Reform (, a think tank composed of sixty working academics from universities across the country that is a nationally recognized source of research and opinion on public health, worker and consumer safety, and the environment. Steinzor's publications include Mother Earth and Uncle Sam: How Pollution and Hollow Government Hurt our Kids (2007), The People's Agents and the Battle to Protect the American Public: Special Interests, Government, and Threats to Health, Safety, and the Environment (with Sidney Shapiro, 2010) and Rescuing Science from Politics (co-edited with Wendy Wagner, 2006).


    • One of Corporate Crime Reporter's Top Ten Books of 2014

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