Thursday, November 29, 2007

Poop on His Suit?

According to Ronnie Lowenstein of the Independent Budget Office the dollar amount of a fine does not reflect the social harm inflicted by the fined violation. For example, the same $25 fine applies to sidewalk vendors who refuse to allow inspectors to ensure food is being handled safely and to taxi drivers who wear cut-off shorts.

Another salient observation he presents: In 2002, the city spent $0.22 for every $1 in parking fine revenue collected. For all other fine revenue, the city spent $2.09 for each $1 collected.

False certification of correction of Housing Maintenance Code violations (administered by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development) are subject to fines of $50 to $250.

Parking violation fines range from $25 to $180.

The fine for performing plumbing work without a permit is $250 for the first violation.

In general, the penalty for a non-hazardous Housing Maintenance Code violation is a flat fine of $10-$50. For a hazardous violation the penalty is $25-$110 per day.

Fines for critical violations by licensed food establishments doubled from $100 to $200 per violation.

The Environmental Control Board handles fines for street cleanliness, waste disposal, the cleanliness of the city's water supply; air, water and noise pollution; street peddling; fire prevention and building safety; and the misuse of city parks. These include not following recycling regulations and improper disposal of canine waste. Violations are divided into types A (no action required) and B (corrective action required). The average payment is considerably higher for B violations—$394, five times the average A violation fine of $81.
For some correctable violations of the Building Code and the Fire Code, the respondent has the opportunity to cure the violation within 35 days from the date of the Notice of Violation. If the violation is cured, no payment of the imposed fine is required.

Railroad trespass carries a $10 fine in New York, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The maximum fine for Driving While Alcohol Impaired is
$300 to $500/$500 to $750, according to law firm Grunwald & Seman.

So what is going through city councilman Simcha Felder's mind when he proposed $1000 fines for feeding pigeons? This is beyond excessive. Even if you agree with the ban, the amount of the fine gives pigeon-feeding parity with much more serious crimes such as breaking-and-entering or driving while intoxicated.

While we are on the topic of inconsistency in US penal codes, here are some examples that blew my mind. (From 1910, a lot must have changed since but there is still a great deal of inconsistency.) Or look at this from People for a Fascist America .

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