Numerous rants on this site can be found regarding the “justice” system in this country. Case in point we have the following court ruling in which a woman was prosecuted for selling counterfeit Cisco equipment:
A Virginia woman was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for leading a “sophisticated” conspiracy to import and sell counterfeit Cisco Systems networking equipment, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
I’m not going to complain about the charges or case itself but the punishment placed upon the perpetrator. This woman was nailed for selling counterfeit equipment which you can argue grants a legitimacy to Cisco’s claim of damages so I understand why she was made to pay restitution. What I don’t understand though is the rest of her punishment:
In addition to the prison time, Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia also ordered Chun-Yu Zhao, 43, of Chantilly, Virginia, to pay US$2.7 million restitution and a $17,500 fine.
The emphasized parts are the source of my confusion. As this woman wronged Cisco I can see why she would be made to pay restitution to the company but I see no reason why she should be thrown in prison and made to pay a fine to the government. In this case prison makes no sense since the supposed purpose of incarceration is to separate dangerous people from the rest of society. Somebody dealing in counterfeit goods is not a danger to society as no act of violence has been made. She didn’t assault or murder anybody, she simply committed acts of fraud.
Then there is the fine. Why should the government receive any money in this case? The courts are already paid for using tax dollars so a claim of funding can’t be legitimately made. The woman in no way wronged the government or “society” either so why the Hell do they get any cut from the ruling? It’s because our “justice” system is simply another funding mechanism for our government.
Some people may ask why this kind of thing bothers me. The reason it bothers me is because it creates a conflict of interest. Courts are argued to be impartial arbitrators whom can peacefully solve disputes between two entities. This impartiality is jeopardized when the government (who own the courts) receives money based on their ruling. In such cases a situation is created where the government gains if a guilty verdict is decided and therefore it’s in the best interest of the government to proclaim judgements of guilt.
When the government stands to receive $17,000 from a fine why would they entertain any idea of the accused being innocent? If the accused is ruled to be innocent the government receives nothing but if the accused is ruled to be guilty the government receives money. How can any claim of impartiality be made in such a system?