Wednesday 22 January 2020

Pay the fine or do the time

I REFER to your editorial 'Seeing sense on jail for debtors' (February 1). I think you and many others have missed a very important point.

Fines are imposed when someone is guilty of an offence. Jail sentences are subsequently imposed if fines are not paid.

Or to put it another way, people who refuse to take their medicine are given a more severe punishment.

Whichever way you look at it, the whole process begins when the original offence is committed. So if people will not or can not pay fines, why charge them in the first place?

Why not ignore their transgressions altogether and deploy the wasted resources elsewhere?

I'll tell you why -- because chaos would ensue.

I also believe that the proposed Fines Bill is a diversion and a complete waste of time.

What happens when someone doesn't do their community work? Fine them?

But then I expect a system of measurement will be devised that will always ensure the statistics look good. Can't have flaws being revealed, eh?

Forget this silly talk about people being sent to debtors' prisons.

In Dickens' day, debtors' prison was for people who could not repay their loans, which in itself was considered a crime. There is no comparison.

Andrew Callaghan

Artane, Dublin 5

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