As a former investment banker and having recently been freed from prison in 2007, I have to agree with much of what you said today. Most importantly, it is the culture of eternal punishment that has developed in this country.
My own situation suggest you are absolutely right to try to avoid prison, since once you have a felony on your record, it is like being branded for life. My own prospects for work have been essentially taken away by what I did and what the system continues to do, as Google can't seem to lower the references to my incarceration and conviction, and any company with an HR department won't even consider me.
As for qualifications, that is also funny, since I have been published in trade and consumer magazines, have the Masters, etc. It doesn't matter. It only makes me overqualified.
I am curious if you have run across organizations for white collar criminals that have found no support and a complete taking away of family (my children haven't had food on occasion because I can't find work, UPS won't hire me, McDonald's and so many others), friends, work prospects etc.... Yes, there should be consequences to peoples actions, but a lifetime of no prospects hurting family, children, etc? I don't think that is what the US population really would want.
I was first interrogated as a witness in 2002 and after 21 or so meetings with the FBI, a wire tap, and the usual threats to family, I heard nothing for 3 1/2 years, until one day they showed up at my ex-wife's door looking for me. The perp walk ensued, lawyers and their expensive (useless) defense, the pleading, sentencing, etc. And all the while, no work, income, devastation to the family, etc. I got out to no prospects, the joke of half-way house, and programs that are menial and insulting. All to say, almost 10 years into this and I am still suffering from the decisions and consequences. I don't believe those in industry understand that it isn't just a couple of years and some time playing tennis at a minimum security prison in the US. Your life will be destroyed, completely.
June 2, 2011
Prison for life, as a free man
I received an email yesterday from Lorne Caplan, who gave me permission to republish it with attribution. I've edited it slightly: