We all remember the pain and anguish of 2007, when the housing market bubble burst and caused our economy to take a nose dive. In 2008, we entered the Great Recession, leading to millions of Americans losing their jobs, life savings, houses and retirements. It was the worst crisis we have seen since the Great Depression, almost a century before. Americans soon learned that Wall Street executives were to blame for bringing the country to its knees and not ONE single CEO went to prison for the crimes that led to crisis; but it would appear that’s about to change. On Thursday, the Justice Department announced that it was no longer going to allow Wall Street criminals freely sit back while enjoying their millions of dollars in bonuses, instead, they are going to start prosecuting individual executives.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, was set to announce new rules for federal prosecutors on Thursday at New York University Law School. was to announce the guidelines in a speech on Thursday at the New York University Law School. The Justice Department released excerpts from her speech, saying “crime is crime”:
“And it is our obligation at the Justice Department to ensure that we are holding lawbreakers accountable regardless of whether they commit their crimes on the street corner or in the board room,” she added. “In the white-collar context, that means pursuing not just corporate entities but also the individuals through which these corporations act.”
In the past, the DOJ went after companies rather than individual executives, leading to thousands of Americans rising up and demanding that they change the rules and put the CEOs responsible for the global economic collapse in jail. To rectify their past mistakes, Yates said the Justice Department wanted to “change corporate culture to appropriately recognize the full costs of wrongdoing, rather than treating liability as a cost of doing business.”
According to the Huffington Post, Yates said companies would no longer get breaks for cooperating with law enforcement unless they stop protecting the people responsible for crimes. In other words: The DOJ will no longer make irresponsible deals with Wall Street corporations, like Goldman Sachs, unless they give up every single one of their criminal employees — even if that means their CEO.
Yates also said that Wall Street will no longer be allowed to throw low-level employees under the bus and pretend as if their executives had no idea what was going on.
“We’re not going to be accepting a company’s cooperation when they just offer up the vice president in charge of going to jail,” she told the Times.
It is long past time to put the monied Wall Street elite in jail for their crimes. For far too long law enforcement agencies have allowed these people to get away with robbing America blind. It is their fault that the world was thrown into a crisis and justice has yet to be served. They have been allowed to go on living lives of luxury as millions of Americans struggle with poverty. These executives profited off of our country’s destruction, they literally put us into the poor house and got away with it. It’ll be a beautiful day when we finally see these criminals led away in cuffs and they get to experience a fraction of the loss that the rest of us have felt over the last decade.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.