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Federal Influence and Urban Policy Enterpreneurship in the Local Prosecution of Economic Crime (From Criminology Review Yearbook, Volume 2, P 319-334, 1980, by Egon Bittner and Sheldon L Messinger - See NCJ-70397)

NCJ Number
M A Brintnall
Date Published
16 pages
In the 1970's a score of local prosecutors around the United States initiated independent programs to address the problem of white-collar crimes and consumer fraud in a form that became known as policy enterpreneurship.
White-collar crimes and consumer fraud, subsumed under the term of economic crime, represent a complex social issue, which has evoked heightened public awareness and reactions in recent years. Prosecuting attorneys in 15 large counties around the United States responded to public demand for action to curb economic crime by setting up full-time economic crime prosecution bureaus with regularly assigned staffs. Based on the interplay of multiple influences (e.g., political, professional, fiscal, and Federal) the economic crime programs by prosecuting attorneys appeared to enjoy freedom of action, not only in meeting expressed public needs, but also, in placing before the public, programs for which no public need was felt. The systematic program of operation developed by the local economic crime prosecution bureaus became a local policy system. Each bureau developed regular working relationships with other investigative agencies, courts, police, and even other bureaus within the district attorney's office. Disputed consumer and investor transactions, often involving victims frequently ignored by the legal system (e.g., minorities and the elderly) were successfully handled by the economic crime prosecuting bureaus, both formally and informally. Different bureaus employed different approaches to their self-appointed task: some emphasized the prosecution of major criminal cases, others handled only consumer complaints, and still others handled both types of cases. A closer look at these innovative programs and their initiators reveals a certain amount of self-interest on the part of the prosecuting attorneys involved, as well an undeniable ideological commitment to social justice. Thirty endnotes with an approximately equal number of bibliographic references are appended.


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