Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
The halfway house for at-risk ideas

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.



Sale of indulgences

Pay for minor crimes before you commit them
  (+8, -21)(+8, -21)(+8, -21)
(+8, -21)
  [vote for,

In mediaeval times, the Catholic church (bless them !) used to sell "indulgences". These were a pre-paid pardon for sins; i.e. if you intended to commit a venal sin, you could buy an indulgence in advance. Then, when you sinned, you could confess and be forgiven without having to perform a pennance. Whey don't we revive this for minor crimes which are dealt with by fines, like speeding, parking offences, and littering ?

This is how it would work. You go to your local court and pay a fee. This would be quite a lot larger than the normal penalty for the offence. You get a receipt. Then when you commit the crime, your indulgence gets cancelled. You lose your money, but you don't get a criminal record.

At any time, you can cash in a still-valid receipt and get your money back, minus a small administration fee.

This is good because:

1. The state gets the money up front, which of course it will immediately spend on worthy and socially-useful projects (as opposed to financing the greedy, bloated luxury lifestyles of corrupt career politicans, which would never do).

2. The state actually gets more money, and admin overheads are reduced. Less effort in chasing people to pay fines.

3. It reduces criminality and reported crime.

4. It makes people more thoughtful because they know in advance just how much it's going to cost them if they commit a crime.

8th of 7, Jun 19 2002

Pre-Paid Overdue Fees http://www.halfbake...id_20Overdue_20Fees
[phoenix, Jun 19 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Income-based Fines http://www.halfbake...ncome-based_20Fines
[phoenix, Jun 19 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]

"Get Out of Jail Free" Card http://www.halfbake...il_20Free_22_20Card
[phoenix, Jun 19 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]


       The organised crime fraternity do this a lot. It's called corruption.
sild, Jun 19 2002

       Sild: Once again, Private Enterprise shows Government the way froward ...
8th of 7, Jun 19 2002

       So if you're rich, you can speed as much as you like and not have your license taken away? Wow, allowing rich people to buy favorable treatment by the legal system is such a good idea. Sadly, it's already baked, and it's called expensive lawyers.   

       And reducing criminality and reported crime by not reporting crimes that are committed cannot be considered an advantage. If the police never investigated murders, that might reduce the murder rate but wouldn't make it much safer. This would increase law-breaking, not reduce it.   

       This deserves so many fishbones, and I have only one!
pottedstu, Jun 19 2002

       Ditto! (Slim Pickens, Blazing Saddles)
DrBob, Jun 19 2002

       "One law for the rich, and another for the poor, which prohibiteth them equally from taking bread and sleeping under railway bridges.... "   

       So rich people do better from this idea than poor ones. No change there then; except maybe not so many lawyers. And any court case involves not one but two sets of lawyers, one of which has to be paid for by public funds.   

       Pedantry moment "If the police never investigated murders, that might reduce the murder rate ..." No, the murder rate would be the same, or even go up.   

       Since people are still going to speed, litter and park on the double-yellows anyway, why not just cut the hypocrisy and streamline the system ? This is only intended for non-violent, non-property crimes. OK, if it feels better for you, speeders still get a penalty point on their licence. And the next indulgence is more expensive, on some sort of sliding scale.   

       Use the extra money to pay for a few more proper police officers, instead of this stupid ersatz "Community Warden" idea.
8th of 7, Jun 19 2002

       This one's been here and gone a couple of times. Just about as bad an idea as they come. I know there's a variant of it still here that suggests people be allowed to pay library overdue fines in advance.   

       I don't need to point out that the intent of such punishments is to prevent laws from being broken. Therefore, allowing people to pay in advance for permission to break the law is somewhat countereffective.   

       FIshbone, if for no other reason than I'm Lutheran.
waugsqueke, Jun 19 2002

       //why not just cut the hypocrisy and streamline the system//

Because the laws are generally put into place or sponsored by the rich lawyers (check out the profession of your local MP). Allowing them to effectively write in their own exemption from the law would increase hypocrisy not decrease it.
DrBob, Jun 19 2002

       I was about to 'bone this, but I realised that I already had. Pity, it deserves another one.
angel, Jun 19 2002

       I'm in my 30s and have never had but one speeding ticket (stupid, daydreaming moment). I have a friend who is 48 and has never had a speeding ticket. I can see allowing one *free* speeding ticket/indulgence for every 10 years that you go without a ticket (or any moving violation) or causing an accident. I think a system should be in place to reward the good/safe drivers (other than insurance breaks). But, I'm fishboning this b/c there is no requirement for people to *earn* the indulgence, which I think would be necessary. But making them earn it over a period of time---as opposed to paying for as many as they want in any time period---, there would be no difference betw. rich/poor.
runforrestrun, Jun 19 2002

       If the Catholic church once did this, doesn't that mean it's baked?
beauxeault, Jun 19 2002

       8th of 7, leaving aside your point about the money going to government (the wrongness of which you have already tacitly admitted)...   

       //2. The state actually gets more money, and admin overheads are reduced. Less effort in chasing people to pay fines. // Perhaps not. Do these 'indulgences' come into effect before or after the accused is found guilty? If before, then this is a rejection of the presumption of innocence, which is strongly protected in most democracies. If after, then no saving is made at all because the criminal justice procedure needs to be followed. All that will change is sentencing.   

       //3. It reduces criminality and reported crime. // Not at all. Since a crime has to be reported in order to invoke the 'induglence,' there is no negative effect on the level of reporting. "Criminality" is a nebulous concept and cannot be quantified (if at all) by the number of crimes committed.   

       //4. It makes people more thoughtful because they know in advance just how much it's going to cost them if they commit a crime.// Wrong. People already know how much each of their criminal actions can potentially cost. People are still muredred in Texas and people still speed in England & Wales even though both these jurisdictions have clear pubishment systems.
calum, Jun 19 2002

       Pubishment! No wonder murder and speeding are so popular in Texas and the U.K., respectively.
beauxeault, Jun 19 2002

       Since some (but not all) things are crimes for good reason, allowing someone to buy their way out of an offence in advance would lead to greater social acceptance of detrimental behaviour. I'm relatively sure there are reasons for the legal system other than state fundraising (and lining the pockets of lawyers).   

       Besides, aren't indulgences generally regarded as one of the ways in which the Roman Catholic Church lost the plot a bit?
-alx, Jun 19 2002

       so, what yo're saying is that rich people can keep their records clean and allow themselves more freedom by pre-paying for it. ofcourse!
loke, Jun 19 2002

       I only spell things wrong to keep you lot amsued.
calum, Jun 19 2002

       UB, I saw muredr, too, but I didn't want to rub it in.   

       calum, there are worse things to do with one's time. Your efforts are appreciated.
beauxeault, Jun 20 2002

       How much do I pay for theft of money?
Shadow Phoenix, Oct 29 2007

       I'd give this a bun, 8th, but I'd hate to ruin a perfectly good 2.5 fish.
MikeD, Mar 24 2010

       Go ahead, make our day ...
8th of 7, Mar 25 2010


back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle