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May 6, 2021

"What’s Really Wrong with Fining Crimes? On the Hard Treatment of Criminal Monetary Fines"

The title of this post is the title of this interesting new paper authored by Ivó Coca-Vila now available via SSRN.  Here is its abstract:

Among the advocates of expressive theories of punishment, there is a strong consensus that monetary fines cannot convey the message of censure that is required to punish serious crimes or crimes against the person (e.g., rape).  Money is considered an inappropriate symbol to express condemnation. In this article, I argue that this sentiment is correct, although not for the reasons suggested by advocates of expressivism.  The monetary day-fine should not be understood as a simple deprivation of money, but as a punishment that re-duces the offender’s capacity to consume for a certain period of time.  Conceived in this manner, I argue that it is perfectly suitable to convey censure.

However, the practical impossibility of ensuring that the person who pays the fine is the same person who has been convicted of the offense seriously undermines the acceptability of the monetary fine as an instrument of censure.  Minimizing the risk of the fine’s hard treatment being transferred to third parties is a necessary condition for the monetary fine to be considered a viable alternative to lengthy prison sentences.

May 6, 2021 at 02:17 PM | Permalink


I would not have a problem with fines for crimes as long as they are non-violent and on a sliding scale of provable income. I also think a great idea for now is bond for non-violent inmates to go home, get a start on their life instead of sitting there for 15 years doing nothing. Waste of money and their lives (if they have a positive home to go too) Drug sentences are ridiculously high, most with no evidence (Yes in the USA the Feds think it's okay to charge people with drug amounts that another arrested person claims to have seen you with (for a lighter sentence, hence "Unreliable statements") and then the person has to prove their innocence? Which is next to impossible, so off to prison they go for decades. -Unconstitutional? -YOU BET YOUR A**
How is this policy still going on in America and no one has done anything about it? "Ghost Dope"

Posted by: Randy Cowan | May 6, 2021 6:35:08 PM

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