Punishment, money and legal order : an analysis of the emergence of monetary sanctions with special reference to Scotland
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This thesis is a study of monetary sanctions, in particular the fine, set in the broader context of the relationship between punishment, money and legal order. The purpose is to analyse the way in which money enters into penal relations. The thesis is divided into two main parts, the first of which begins by identifying a paradox in the structure of contemporary, sociological explanations of punishment. This paradox may be rendered thus; why is the fine much used but little studied? Why do contemporary sociological accounts endeavour to explain the penal system with little or no reference to the most commonly used of all penal sanctions, the fine? A number of factors accounting for this paradox are suggested, but most important of all, it is argued, the paradox reflects a broader, cultural estrangement of punishment from money. By this is meant that money is unable to fulfil our cultural expectations of what punishment ought really to be like. The nature of this process of estrangement is explored via an analysis of why, in serious crimes like rape, fines are seen as inappropriate sanctions. It is argued that this process of estrangement captures both an historical process and a contemporary reality. Historically, money was once used to deal with the full range of crimes and offences. However, for reasons which are explained, this relationship has been shattered. In the modern penal system, punishment and money are estranged. The phenomenon of estrangement is clearest only at a certain level of the penal system - that level at which grand claims for its legitimacy are debated and discussed. Beneath this, the system relies on the fine in an increasing number of crimes and offences. The second part of the thesis uses concrete, empirical data, gathered by a variety of methods, to explore the place of the fine in the contemporary Scottish criminal justice system. The explanation is carried out in the light of the more general themes developed in the first part of the thesis. By analysing official data, it is shown that fines are now used in fairly serious crimes, particularly the property ones. The thesis then turns to an examination of how a group of sentencers, sheriffs, use the fine. This analysis is conducted by using data collected by the interview method. The thesis concludes by considering the significance of its findings for the contemporary sociology of punishment and for our understanding of modern penal practice.