Punish or make the most of it?


A big question:  shall we primarily punish or shall we make the most of it?

Yes, we want to deter from crime, but paying for the costs should be a good deterrent. 

And revenge is not a worthy motive.

Why would someone want to punish someone else?  To get them to behave better.  But couldn't we do that through education and through having them be responsible for paying money for their crimes?


Those who act to damage the society should pay for it, but not just from a punitive point of view.  If they cause damage, they should be legally obligated for the rest of their lives to pay 20% of any earnings until the debt with interest is paid off.  The damage would include all the costs of incarceration.   This obligation could not be cleared by declaring bankruptcy. 

All court costs, including that of the judge and any support costs, will be charged to the convicted.

But how can they pay for it or indeed even stay out of prison if they don't increase their money making potential? 

All prisoners and any convicted, whether incarcerated or not, will engage in educational programs, both for skills and for “life” education, which cost will be charged to their account.  They will be required to do those if they want the privileges that are provided for inmates, including TV and anything beyond what is bare humanitarian benefits.  This would not be unfair since they have the ability to provide those benefits for themselves at their discretion – they are not “entitled” to them.  The inmates could  have their expenses offset by their earnings, including enterprises that are run from the prison.

Only the violent would be held in prison, those who are actually dangerous to others.

Cost per year of imprisonment:  $47,000 (See Average Cost To House Inmates In Prison.)   Obviously, we need to look for the possibility of something cheaper (or even, heavens to Betsey, profitable). 


As with weapons, the loss of a life is a serious, serious thing.  Loss of a license is only a minor penalty compared to the potential.  Driving while drunk is a choice. 

How much is a life worth?  Is it a worst theft than stealing $100,000?  Shouldn't the penalties be substantial for stealing another's life?

All bars should be required to have a sign that, on the way out, reminds people that they should "call someone else or get a ride from a sober person if you or a friend who will drive have had more than the number of drinks listed below, as that is the level for impairment of reflexes and of judgment.  The choice to get home some other way or to drive oneself is significant and to be considered carefully.  If you drive, you imperil another's life and limb - and, therefore, there will be a large penalty.  We must stop this at the source.  Your choice.  Choose well.

                                                 How Many Drinks?

                                                                   Impaired   Legally Drunk
                  Male - hard liquor, normal mix
                  Femalehard liquor, normal mix

The loss of license, except for driving back and forth to gainful employment, would be required in all cases.

The initial fine should be a permanent lien, including interest and, if possible, a currently levied collection against current assets, even a lien on a vehicle, would take place.  Not allowing one to pursue gainful employment would be counterproductive.  All liens would be secured to the extent possible if it were an illiquid asset.  The initial fine should be the larger of a minimum of $10,000 or 10% of one's assets (with a limit of a fine of $1,000,000).   Also the offense would be raised to the level of a crime that would cause one to be a convicted felon, with the loss of voting rights.  A rehabilitation/training program would be required, and if it is not taken, the penalties would be doubled.  The rehabilitation/training program would also include a "life basics and values retraining, and would be paid for by the criminal. 

A 2nd conviction would double all the penalties plus allow for incarceration if the judge believes the person is out of control.

Singapore has the idea:  High penaltied to cause prevention, even such things as this: Persons drunk in a public place may be fined, or can be imprisoned up to three months.  Drunk driving is at least $5,000 or 6 months and loss of license, doubling and tripling as you do another offense and then another. 

California doesn't "get it":  Fines up to $1600, jail from 96 hours to 6 months and license suspension for 6 months - not nearly enough of a deterrent!  The proof that penalties aren't harsh enough: 200,000 arrests yearly for DUI.  If the above suggestions were implemented, the number would go down to 10% of that, especially after the horror stories of being convicted get out. 

Punish?  Do it with productivity and save the costs of incareceration!