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Would it be right to fine some offenders more severely because they are financially...

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cdeeneedham | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:42 AM via web

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Would it be right to fine some offenders more severely because they are financially successful?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:54 AM (Answer #1)

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It is possible to argue this both ways. 

On the one side, it is possible to say that the punishment for a given crime should be the same regardless of who has committed the crime.  We wouldn’t sentence a 50 year-old to a shorter term in prison because he had less of his life left than a 20 year-old so there is no reason to impose lighter fines on poorer people.  In addition, it would simply be unfair.  We would be punishing people more severely because they are rich.

On the other side, we can say that the punishment should hurt all offenders to the same degree.  If a billionaire and I are fined the same amount for the same crime, he will hardly notice it even if it is a large enough amount to really hurt me.  It is, we can argue, inequitable for him to, in essence, get off scot-free.  By the same token, it would be cruel and unusual punishment to fine a poor person their entire life savings for a relatively minor crime.

Thus, it is clearly possible to argue this either way and say "yes, it is right" or say "no, it is not right."

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