Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Fair Fines

The fine as a punishment has many advantages, it is swift, cheap to administer and does not have the labeling consquences of other criminal justice interventions.

However its main problem is fairness. A £1,000 fine is a minor inconvience to a rich person but has a massive impact on someone on benefits.  One way around this is the idea of "unit fines". Essential this results in the level of fine reflecting the income levels of those who are convicted.

The impact of this approach is highlighted by this BBC news story
A Swedish motorist caught driving at 290km/h (180mph) in Switzerland could be given a world-record speeding fine of SFr1.08m ($1m; £656,000), prosecutors say.

The 37-year-old, who has not been named, was clocked driving his Mercedes sports car at 170km/h over the limit.

Under Swiss law, the level of fine is determined by the wealth of the driver and the speed recorded.

In January, a Swiss driver was fined $290,000 - the current world record.

Local police spokesman Benoit Dumas said of the latest case that "nothing can justify a speed of 290km/h".

"It is not controllable. It must have taken 500m to stop," he said.

The Swede's car - a Mercedes SLS AMG - has been impounded and in principle he could be forced to pay a daily fine of SFr3,600 for 300 days

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