GREEN PARTY OF CALIFORNIA URGES PASSAGE OF CORPORATE THREE STRIKES BILL (SB335)News Release
For immediate release: May 17, 2003
SACRAMENTO - In an effort to protect Californians by curtailing "crime in the suites," the Green Party of California urges the passage of a bill on the senate floor aiming a "three strikes" law at corporate criminals.
Authored by Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), the Corporate Three-Strikes Act (SB335) would make California the first state with a three strikes law for corporate crime. The bill, which passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee this month, now heads to the senate floor.
The bill is modeled on the "three strikes" law for persons, which jails felons for 25 years-to-life on their third felony, no matter how trivial. The GPCA opposes that law targeting people, because it serves as welfare for prison industries and as cruel and unusual punishment against non-violent offenders.
"If this is how California punishes people who commit felonies, it's certainly appropriate for the Enrons of the world," said Carmen Balber, a consumer activist at the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. "California's $35 billion dollar deficit is largely due to the corporate misdeeds of energy companies, including Enron, during last year's energy crisis."
"This is landmark legislation," said Gabrielle Weeks, alternate regional representative to the Green Party of California. "After so many scandals left millions of pensioners with no retirement, it's good to see elected officials stand up for the people's welfare, and say "no" to greedy corporations."
SB335 would ban corporations convicted of three or more felony crimes within a 10-year period from doing business in California. Upon conviction of a third-strike, the state can revoke the charter of a California corporation or revoke the state business certification for out-of-state businesses.
The bill covers corporations, nonprofit mutual benefit organizations, business partnerships and limited liability companies convicted of violating fraud, tax, bribery, extortion, consumer and environmental protection, civil rights, labor, employment, antitrust, political campaign or finance laws.
The bill would curb practices by corporations such as Santa Barbara-based Tenet Healthcare Corporation, now under investigation for charges of Medicare fraud, performing unnecessary medical procedures and gouging the uninsured. Tenet was previously convicted of Medicare fraud for committing patients to psychiatric hospitals unnecessarily and holding them against their will. Although the company changed its name and paid nearly $700 million in fines and reparations, its corporate behavior appears to be unchanged.
The tough-on-corporate crime bill has drawn international news coverage across Canada and England.
"We hope that California leads the way for the nation and the world to keep corporations in check," said Green Party member and Juniper Hills (CA) Town Councilperson Tom Bolema. "Too many lives are being ruined by their reckless profiteering. Corporate criminals need deterrence, too."
Greens are encouraged to contact their senators immediately to support the bill, which goes to an appropriations hearing on May 19.
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For more information:
Article from Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights:
The Green Party of California
Fact sheet about SB 335:
- Requires every company to report its criminal convictions to the Secretary of State, and makes this information available to the public, online. Currently, the Attorney General issues a report of street crime in California every quarter, yet there is no place where the public or anyone else can find information about corporate crime.
- A company with one or two "strikes" against it is required to publicize its transgression with an advertisement in California's largest newspaper, as well as in the largest newspaper in the California city in which the offender is based.
- If a company is convicted of a third "strike", tried in a California court, the company will lose the right to do business in California.