One class of criminal has seen an unintended benefit from the September 11 terrorist attacks, reports The Business Journal of Pheonix: white collar criminals.
Federal criminal prosecutions of white-collar cases are down 27 percent nationally since 2000, according to Syracuse University research.
That study also shows national security and terrorism prosecutions are up 608 percent and immigration cases are up 127 percent since 2000.
The Syracuse study projects more than 38,000 federal immigration cases will be prosecuted nationally this year, but fewer than 7,000 white-collar cases.
A white collar defense attorney interviewed by the paper said federal investigators working white collar crime and other cases were reassigned to counterterrorism after 9-11.
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, an independent research organization at Syracuse University, reports that white collar criminal filings for July 2007 were 10 percent lower than the previous month and were the lowest they have been in two decades after its analysis of Justice Department enforcement data.
As The Washington Post reported last month, this shift away from one class of prosecution for another is not new at the Justice Department.
From 2000 to 2006, for example, there were large drops in the number of defendants related to environmental offenses (down 12 percent), organized crime (38 percent), white-collar crime (10 percent), bank robbery (18 percent) and bankruptcy fraud (46 percent), according to Justice Department statistics provided this week to The Washington Post. Money-laundering prosecutions related to drugs were also down nearly 25 percent, while the number of drug cases overall was stagnant.
There were simultaneous jumps in prosecutions related to immigration (up 36 percent), weapons cases (87 percent), official corruption (15 percent), and, most dramatically, terrorism and national security cases (876 percent). Indeed, Justice Department funds devoted to counterterrorism programs in Washington have tripled since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Justice Department's spokesman, Peter Carr, said the changes in prosecutions are an indicator of the Bush Administration's priorities as well as the threat the United States faces from another terrorist attack like 9-11.