The premise of a fine is that someone or something wants you to deter you from an action or a behavior. Take for example, speeding or reckless driving. What a poor person pays in a county is the equivalent to what a wealthy person pays in the same county; however, it may impact the former's livelihood much more (e.G. Ability to pay rent, car payments, etc.). The latter, however, is impacted very little by the fine. I would argue that in this case, the fine is a GREATER deterrent for a poor person than it is for a wealthy person because the real-life consequence is greater. While being wealthy should provide you many privileges, I don't believe the capacity to be more reckless or unlawful is one of them. I would differentiate a fine from paying for damaged property--where you should pay the actual cost of the damages.
The reason consequences for lawbreaking vary is because we have established that the consequence for a violation of the law needs to be similar in magnitude to the violation that was committed. A $500 fine is not going to have the same magnitude when you're super rich as it would when you're super poor.
The capitalist philosophy seem to be so (wrongfully) ingrained in our mindset, people seem to be fine with the fact that a fine is nothing more than the price of permission to break the law. If I'm rich, I can just buy this permission and break it, if I'm poor I can't.
This shouldn't be the point of a fine. It should be a punishment, just like jail, but less severe. The point of punishment if to hurt. If it doesn't hurt at all when you're rich, and can screw you for life when you're poor, then how could anyone think it's fair? To those of you repeating "you just shouldn't break the law" note that we're talking about what happens when you do break the law. That argument doesn't play any role here since both the rich and the poor guys already broke it.
My guess as to why we had this system originally is that income inequality wasn't close to what it is now, and even if it was a bit unfair, they thought it was a simpler system and was close enough to being fair. In today's world, the system is a joke. This is not about free market. A guy who works harder deserves to earn more money, but doesn't deserve a less severe punishment than a poor person when they both break the law.
Fines are punishments.
The same parking ticket, for example, could be a poorer man's weekly wage and wealthier man's loose change. The fine isn't actually offering the same punishment for what is the same crime. This is unjust.
If fines were proportionate to a persons income, they could loose the same percent of their money as another person, so feel the punishment on the same scale. This is fair.
We only have to look at taxes as an example. Taxes are the same percent, if not more, for a wealthy person than a poor person. This system in place works and is a good way to avoid robbing anyone of too much or too little. This makes the taxes fair.
Life is about being fair, if fines become proportionate to incomes, the punishment will be fair.
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Fines are designed to dis-incentivize behaviors that harm the rest of us. A $50 fine may be a crippling burden for one person, and pocket change for another. A wealthy person may (for example) park illegally every day, and continue to pay the fine without changing their behavior. The only way to ensure that a fine is just for everyone is to adjust for income.
If a fine is too light for a wealthy person then it doesn't serve as a deterrent. Fining everybody the same disproportionately affects the poor, how is that justice?
Further, I think MORE needs to be done to insure justice is served, as the judicial system in the U.S. seems very broken as is. The wealthy having the ability to afford the best defense whereas the poor are at the mercy of the system is NOT justice either imo.
If someone is too poor to pay for a fine, they will be sent to court! And if they don't win the court they go to JAIL!!!, if we base fines on income the 28% of people who go to jail because of lack of paying fines will stop. Why would we put people in jail because they don't have enough money
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I work my ass of 7 days week and on holidays. Just because of that, I should pay more if we both commit the same infractions? If you caused $500 dollars worth of damages you should only pay $5? But I have to pay $5,000 because of my financial status? It does not make any sense to me. The punishment of a crime should be based upon the severity of that crime and not based upon color, religion, or financial status!
No matter how much money someone has compared to someone else, they should pay the same fine for the same crime because of the fact they have committed the same crime. Making fines proportional to income makes crime proportional which is unfair. You pay the price for the crime you committed, which is justice regardless of the circumstances the criminal is in.
Some people don't work or have an income but they still have money because of inheritance or their partner works. What would happen to these people? It is not fair that they wouldn't have to pay anything just because they don't have an income. If we keep fines as they are at the moment it means everyone gets the same punishment no matter their income which is fairer overall.
Some don't work and have an income but they still have money because of inheritance or their partner works. What would happen to these people? It is not fair that they wouldn't have to pay anything just because they don't have an income. If we keep fines as they are at the moment it means everyone gets the same punishment no matter their income.
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According to the 8th amendment "Excessive bail shall not be required, Nor excessive fines imposed, Nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. " In US vs Bajakajian the US Supreme Court ruled essentially that 'the punishment must fit the crime'. Specifically "grossly disproportional" fines are unconstitutional, And finally that "a fine would not offend the Eighth Amendment unless it were grossly disproportional to the gravity of a defendant's offense. " So, A $290, 000 dollar speeding ticket for someone who commits a traffic infraction (as we see in Europe) would be unconstitutional in the U. S.
Governments of truly free people have restrictions in place to prevent the government from infringing on their citizen's rights.
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