Fines for minor offenses can save the state money and deter crime while allowing gainful employment.
Many crimes deserve fines, not jail - TDRI: Think tank says courts imprisoning too many by Manop Thip-Osod
Thailand Development Research Institute researchers have recommended the criminal code be amended to reduce the number of jail sentences and replace them with fines
TDRI deputy director Somkiat Tangkitvanij said yesterday replacing some jail sentences with heavy fines could save the government at least 1.8 billion baht a year on judicial expenditure without undermining the justice system.
Mr Somkiat told a seminar on Alternatives for the Increase of Efficiency in the Judicial Process for Criminal Cases that the Thai judicial process gave too much priority to jail sentences.
Criminal punishment for minor offences such as cheque fraud and defamation should be repealed and replaced by other penalties.
Arbitration in cases in which conflicting parties could reach a compromise should be encouraged, while jail sentences for minor offences should be replaced by fines that correlate with the offender's income, Mr Somkiat said.
From a legal and economic point of view, fines in the Thai criminal code are less than appropriate.
Most penalties for offenders involve a jail term, which results in higher costs for the government.
Prison terms also take those sentenced in criminal cases away from the labour market and it is difficult for them to get jobs again after they have served their sentences.
Consequently, most former inmates end up turning back to crime.
Mr Somkiat said imprisonment, which segregates offenders from society, had only a marginally positive effect on crime prevention.
Fines would mean the transfer of money from the pockets of criminals to the state. The cost of managing a fine collection system was much lower than running correction facilities.
Fines would not limit offenders' ability to get a job. Appropriate fines could discourage offenders from repeating their crimes while the amounts should mirror the severity of the offence.
Mr Somkiat said researchers at the institute had studied more than 400 cases falling into eight different types of crime at the Ratchada Criminal Court and Phra Nakhon Nua District Court, and Supreme Court verdicts in another 150 cases.
The researchers found the courts had not handed down fines very often in cases ranging from gambling, illegal arms possession, traffic law violations and theft.
The Supreme Court handed down prison sentences in all 150 cases it heard. Those convicted were required to pay a fine only when their sentences were suspended, Mr Somkiat said.
The TDRI also suggested that people convicted of minor offences should be allowed to choose between undergoing other forms of punishment and doing community work.
Law enforcement officers should also be encouraged to make more use of the arbitration process, the deputy TDRI director said.
(Source: Bangkok Post, Many crimes deserve fines, not jail - TDRI, Think tank says courts imprisoning too many, 22/02/2011, Manop Thip-Osod, link)
Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) - think tank established in 1984 to conduct policy research and disseminate results to the public and private sectors, provides technical and policy analysis that supports the formulation of policies with long-term implications for sustaining social and economic development in Thailand (See website)
think tank - a company that other companies hire to do research, produce reports on this research (See Wikipedia)
fine - an amount of money that you have to pay because you have broken the law ค่าปรับ
criminal code - the book (or books) that give the details of the criminal laws of a country, such as the maximum and minimum punishments that courts can sentence offenders who commit crimes (See Wikipedia)
amended - changed
jail sentence - the period of time that a person must live in jail (after they have been found guilty of a crime)
replace - to get rid of someone or something, and to put a new person or thing in its place เลิกให้และนำสิ่งใหม่มาใช้แทน
deputy - the person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation รอง
expenditure - spending money
justice - when people are treated fairly and equally (See Wikipedia) ความยุติธรรม
alternatives - different possible choices (here: choices to increase efficiency)
process - a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
judicial process - the series of steps in a court case (in which judges determine whether the evidence says that a person committed a crime or not)
priority - something important that must be done first สี่งที่สำคัญเป็นลำดับแรก
give priority to Y - treat task Y as most important and do first (before other tasks)
minor - not important; small; having little influence or effect เล็กน้อย
minor offences - small crimes (with small punishments), example: traffic violations
fraud - the crime of lieing to, tricking and cheating people to get their money, international deceiving someone or cheating in order to gain an advantage or benefit การฉ้อโกง การหลอกลวง เล่ห์เพทุบาย
cheque fraud - "the unlawful use of cheques in order to illegally acquire or borrow funds that do not exist within the account balance or account-holder's legal ownership. Most methods involve taking advantage of the float (the time between the negotiation of the cheque and its clearance at the cheque-writer's bank) to draw out these funds. Specific kinds of cheque fraud include cheque kiting, where funds are deposited before the end of the float period to cover the fraud, and paper hanging, where the float offers the opportunity to write fraudulent checks but the account is never replenished" (See Wikipedia)
defamation - the offence of writing or saying something bad about someone that is not true and makes people have a bad opinion of them การใส่ร้าย
repeal - repeal a law, ending a law
penalties - the punishments that people must suffer for breaking the law and acting criminally บทลงโทษ
arbitration - the judging and settling of a dispute or disagreement by a neutral party (not involved in dispute)
conflicting - having seriously differences
parties - people, companies, organisations
parties - people or companies entering into a business arrangement or deal
compromise - when each side in a disagreement demands less in order to reach agreement, give up something to reach an agreement ประนีประนอม
encouraged - having more confidence or hope about something มีกำลังใจ
income - money that people receive from work or some other source, used for household consumption and savings
offender - a person who has committed a crime, a lawbreaker ผู้กระทำความผิด
prison - a large jail in which people live during their "prison sentence" คุก, จำคุก, เรือนจำ
jail - 1. a small place with bars (in Thailand in a police station) where people are put after arrest for a crime and which they cannot leave, 2. also has a more general meaning of a place where people are confined as punishment for a crime ห้องขัง
term - period of time ช่วงเวลา
jail term - a period of time a person must spend in jail (as punishment for a crime, a court found that they were guilty, that they committed the crime)
prison term - a period of time that must be spent in prison
results - what is produced in the end by an activity or task
X Consequently, Y - event or situation X happens and then Y happens as a result
inmates - the people living inside a prison or jail (confined)
imprisonment - the punishment of being put in prison จำคุก
segregate - to separate one group of things or people from a larger group, set apart, divide แยกออกจากกลุ่ม, แบ่งออก, แยกตัวออก
segregates offenders from society - take criminals out of society (and put them somewhere, where they cannot hurt other people)
marginally - by only a very small amount
positive - good ที่ดี
had only a marginally positive effect
prevention - the act of preventing something, or things that people do in order to prevent something
crime prevention - proven steps taken by governments to reduce crime and violence (See Wikipedia)
transfer - change ownership to another person โอน
state - government รัฐ
facilities - a specially equipped place and equipment to do a certain activity (for example, athletics facilities) สถานที่และสิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก
correction facilities - jails and prisons
limit - restrict, reduce the number of opportunities or things that someone can do
discourage - to make someone feel like something should not be done ทำให้ไม่อยาก (ทำสิ่งใดสิ่งหนึ่ง)
offence - a crime or illegal activity for which there is a punishment การกระทำผิดกฎหมายหรือข้อบังคับ
X mirrors Y - X reflects or shows Y
mirror the severity of the offence - should match or reflect how bad the crime is
handed down fines - when a court makes a person pay a fine as punishment for committing a crime
handed down prison sentences - when a court makes a person live in prison for a period of time as punishment for committing a crime
gambling - the activity of betting money, for example in a game or on a horse race การพนัน
illegal - against the law ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
arms - weapons อาวุธ
possession - having or owning something การครอบครอง
traffic law violations - (See Wikipedia on traffic, Traffic Code (US) and Highway Code (UK) )
theft - (the act of) dishonestly taking something which belongs to someone else and keeping it การลักขโมย
convicted - having been proven guilty of a crime by a court of law ได้รับการพิสูจน์ว่ามีความผิดจริง proven in a court of law to have committed a crime การกระทำผิดกฎหมาย
suspended - stopped for a period of time (stopped temporarily)
suspended sentence - when a jail term is delayed, the offender does not break the law during a period of time (probation period) and meets the judges conditions then the jail term doesn't have to be served (See Wikipedia)
community - local people, all the people who live in a local area or place ชุมชน
community work - community service, when a person has to do some work that benefits their community instead of paying a fine or spending time in jail, "for example, a litterer may have to clean a park or roadside, or a drunk driver might appear before school groups to explain why drunk driving is a crime. Most jurisdictions in the United States have programs by which the court may require minor offenders to perform work for city or county agencies under the supervision of the police or sheriff's department, often on weekends, as an alternative to confinement in jail. Jail and prison inmates are also typically used for labor either in the jail or at outside work that benefits society, such as in light manufacturing, repair work, office work, on labor camps or farms, on chain gangs or on land conservation projects. This is, however, more properly considered a form of penal labor than community service. At least part of the philosophy behind this kind of sentencing is that providing a service to the community is more beneficial than punishment for its own sake. Through community service, the community sees a benefit while saving the costs associated with incarceration of the convict and having the work carried out by paid staff. It is also thought to be a way to educate convicts on what constitutes ethically acceptable behavior" (See Wikipedia)
enforcement - making sure a law is obeyed and punishing people if it is not obeyed บังคับใช้กฎหมาย
law enforcement officers - police
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