Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Equal justice for all?

The evidence continues to pile up of systematic bias in our justice system:

New research suggests welfare fraudsters are facing a tougher time than tax evaders, despite tax evasion costing taxpayers three times more.

A study by Victoria University shows tax discrepancies cost the Government $1.24 billion in 2014, while welfare fraud cost the Government $30.6 million.

However, tax evaders are far less likely to be investigated, prosecuted or imprisoned, and far more likely to have debts written off.

Associate Professor Lisa Marriott said judges tend to denounce blue collar criminals for the "seriousness" of their offending and recognise the "good character" of white collar offenders.

The reason for this discrepancy in treatment is obvious: tax fraud is a rich man's crime. Welfare fraud is committed mostly by the poor. And rich, white judges sympathise more with people like them - tax cheats - than with people who are not. But it makes a mockery of the justice system, and of the concept of justice. People should not face harsher punishment because they are poor. And people's crimes should not be excused because they are rich.