Does BP's settlement of criminal charges with the federal government do enough to deter and punish? Law professors talk about that question in this video, with one calling it "a drop in the bucket" given BP's deep pockets, the extent of the wrong doing, and the death and destruction caused by the BP spill in the Gulf. Public Citizen puts it this way:
We’re stunned. This settlement is pathetic. The $4 billion penalty is equivalent to just a fifth of the company’s 2011 profits. The point of the criminal justice system is twofold: to punish and to
deter. This does neither. It is a weak-tea punishment that provides zero
deterrence to BP or other companies. Consider that after the 2005 Texas
refinery explosion that killed 15 people, BP pleaded guilty to a
criminal charge and paid a fine. Now, after a 2010 event that killed 11
people, BP is again pleading guilty and paying a fine. Zero deterrence. Although the government is right to pursue manslaughter charges against
two individuals BP employees, the settlement is inadequate to address
BP’s repeated criminal conduct. The government must impose more meaningful sanctions. Nothing in this
settlement stops BP from continuing to get federal contracts and leases.
BP will earn more in annual federal contracts than it will pay in
penalties as a result of this. That’s appalling.
BP still faces civil penalties under the Clean Water Act.