(Original post by em_ily31)
Either I’m misreading completely what your second point is saying but my point was – whoever it is, whatever they earn, whatever the crime = equal punishment, and equal means the same right? They charge a poorer person say 60 quid for a parking ticket, they charge a richer person 60 quid for a parking ticket? Isn’t that equal?
I understand your point about it being relative, but that doesn’t support your previous comments about it being fair. Its not ‘fair’ to charge one person one thing and another different.
Equal surely does not mean the same in this context. For example, imagine we lived in Singapore where flogging is still a legitimate punishment for many crimes. A punishment of, say, 6 strokes might have a
equal effect on a woman and a man, but indirectly
it is probably going to have a far greater effect on the health of the woman. Your appeal to 'fairness' does not really carry any weight because in actual fact what is fair is what has the same practical effect.
However, I would object to the varying of fines depending on wealth for the following reasons:
1. One of the important functions of punishment is its communicative element - it conveys to the public a message about how seriously
the crime is viewed. Were we to vary punishment depending on personal circumstances the public would become easily muddled as to how blameworthy the behaviour was in the first place.
2. Fines are at the bottom of the sentencing ladder in the UK. They are not really meant to be a severe finanancial penalty, rather they are a way of conveying the censure element of the punishment. Here, the main detriment to the offender lies in damage to his reputation rather than financial hardship.
3. If we go down the path of varying punishment according to personal circumstances we get into very murky territory - already this job is done as far as is possible (without intruding too much on the principle of proportionality in sentencing) by the plea in mitigation that will be delivered by the defendant's counsel before sentencing.