The Earth fights back

CEO jailtime

Apparently, Samuel Waksal — the ImClone Systems CEO who was busted for insider trading — didn’t get to go to the jail of his choice. He asked to go to Elgin, a federal “prisoner camp” in Florida so cushy that Forbes magazine dubs it “Club Fed”. Instead, as Forbes reports, he’ll pack off to the Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institute in Minersville, Pa.:

The biggest downside of Schuylkill: Unlike other freestanding, low-security camps, Schuylkill is attached to a more menacing, medium-security facility. While the prison camps where white-collar types usually end up look like college campuses, medium-security prisons look like, well, prisons. Inmates at the low-security camp are often required to work in the medium-security buildings, surrounded by guards, barbed wire and more serious offenders. There, the former ImClone Systems (nasdaq: IMCL - news - people ) chief executive is likely to be washing dishes and sweeping floors for pennies an hour.

The big debate is, of course, whether jailtime actually prevents corporate malfeasance. Some say it doesn’t; these guys are so in love with their power that they could never imagine it’ll happen to them. One interesting solution? A professor at the University of Maryland’s MBA program sends his students to prison for a “scared straight” session — where they get to feel what it’s like living behind bars, and talk to CEO jailbirds.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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