The bigger the crime, the less time

In 1969, there were 502 convictions for tax fraud. Such cases, called “white-collar crimes,” usually involve people with a good deal of money. Of those convicted, 20 percent ended up in jail. The fraud averaged $190,000 per case; the sentences averaged seven months. That same year, for burglary and auto theft (crimes of the poor) 60 percent ended up in prison. The auto thefts averaged $992; the sentences averaged 18 months. The burglaries averaged $321; the sentences averaged thirty-three months.

1969. From Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States