Crossing the Line
Crime Wave in Legislature or Just Better Prosecutors?
By HENRY STERN
That is a question that can reasonably be asked in view of the current spate of indictments, trials and convictions of elected public officials, primarily state legislators. The increasing number of prosecutions, however, is not just today's news. In the last seven years, 32 state level officials have been the subject of criminal proceedings. The ratio of defendants to the entire population of the legislature is comparable to street criminality in some neighborhoods.
Why? Does the field of public service have a particular attraction for white collar criminals? Or do ordinary men and women, previously presumably honorable, succumb to temptation when substantial public funds are available for them to spend or allocate without their having to carry guns or commit crimes of violence?