02 January 2008

Criminal Spot Fine Failures

Yesterday, I pointed out a story on how law enforcement isn't going along with attempts to make marijuana possession a citation offense. Apparently, in the U.K. and Australia they have adopted systems like this for minor law breaking (shoplifting, car theft, &cetera) and they are failing miserably.

1 comment:

markm said...

Fines definitely aren't going to work when they are not collectable, and I suspect the average adult shoplifter is shoplifting because he or she doesn't have the money. Fining car thieves has the same problem and worse; low fines are just a "business expense" that they'll steal more cars to pay, and no one carries around enough cash or has a high enough credit limit for a fine that would be a deterrent. So the result is, the thief is released on a promise to send payments, then the cops have to go find him again when the payment(s) don't arrive, and if they can find him he goes to jail like he should have in the first place.

And in an insane system (like I've seen "restitution" work in Michigan), once the thief is released from jail, he's still supposed to make payments that he can't possibly afford from an honest job within his capability - and to make it even more difficult to hold any job at all, the courts take away his driver's license until it's paid off. Even if the guy wants to reform, we've made it impossible to stay out of jail.