Mining billionaire Gina Rinehart has proposed a new way to broaden Australia’s tax base – allowing convicted criminals to buy their way out of jail.
In a column for Australian Resources and Investment magazine, Mrs Rinehart says the Government should consider letting non-violent offenders pay to get out of prison – or pay to avoid serving time altogether – because Australia needs more workers and taxpayers as the population ages.” The ABC
It’s true that jailing people places a tax burden on the community, and if we can find a way to keep people out of jail, that’s great. Of course, we don’t want dangerous people roaming the streets, but if the person is no risk, far better to keep them out of jail.
And, if they can afford it, why not let them pay to stay out of jail?
Ok, before you all start jumping up and down with indignation about the rich getting special treatment, I want you to consider what the REAL problem with this. The rich have an enormous advantage anyway because they can afford better legal representation.
No, the problem with this is what constitutes a “non-violent” crime.
Drug dealing, for example, is potentially non-violent. So, after being convicted of selling a large shipment of cocaine to school children, I simply pay my fine and go back to business.
Yes, I’m being ridiculous. Obviously, that would be an exception. We’d surely exclude drug dealers. So what are we left with? Tax evasion? Insider trading? Money laundering? Fraud?
Mm, it seems then that a lot of these crimes would potentially be like the “pardons” the Church sold in the Middle Ages. You could buy absolution for your sins. You could even buy this before you sinned. So potentially someone could make a bucketload of money with, for example, insider trading, and, if caught, just buy their way out of trouble. Removing the threat of jail from crimes like these is like going to the Casino with someone else’s money.
If non-violent criminals are allowed to “buy” their way out of jail, it raises the obvious question: Would we better off not sending them to jail in the first place? And when you say no to that question because we need some form of deterrent, then why should that deterrent disappear for people who have money? Where’s the deterrent for people like Rupert Murdoch not to break the law? He could tell his journalists not to worry about the law, he’d pay their way out of jail.
And then, we wouldn’t have the high standards of ethics that exist in the Murdoch Empire!