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Unpublished Paper
The Judgment of Political Corruption
ExpressO (2012)
  • Harry Adams

Criminal justice systems sometimes treat public officials who commit political crimes (like bribery) more leniently than private citizens who commit street crimes (like burglary)—even when the harms of the former crimes and criminals are greater than the harms of the latter. The misdeeds of politicians, in fact, are often not labeled as crimes or addressed by the criminal law, but are often addressed by administrative law or administrative bodies run by fellow members of those who've committed such misdeeds. This article examines these possible double standards by providing an analysis of political corruption from a critical legal perspective: in section I, it provides conceptual guidelines to show how corrupt politicians and policies should be judged (detected and recognized) more clearly, in accordance with their harmfulness and wrongfulness; and in section II, it provides practical and jurisprudential guidelines to show how political corruption should be adjudicated (enforced and punished) more firmly, in proportion to the benefits and burdens that corrupt officials wrongly garner for themselves and foist upon others, respectively. After considering the "disrupted balance of benefits and burdens" model of punishment, I conclude by arguing that, if this model is valid, it should be applied to political offenders no less than street offenders.

  • political corruption,
  • adjudication
Publication Date
September 10, 2012
Citation Information
Harry Adams. "The Judgment of Political Corruption" ExpressO (2012)
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