Who Vouches For You?
Who Vouches For You?: A Radical Crime Law Proposal
The legal system used by most ancient societies was usually close to A-sues-B-for-cash. But in the last few centuries, states added “crime law,” wherein the state investigates, sues, and imprisons “criminals.” These centrally-run one-size-fits-all bureaucratic systems don’t innovate well or adapt well to individual conditions. And even though most of your “constitutional rights” are regarding such systems, they seem badly broken.
In the ancient world, a stranger who came to town could be trusted more if a local “vouched” for them. We still use vouching today in bonded contractors, in open source software, in organized crime, and in requiring most everyone to get an insurer ready to pay if they cause a car accident. I propose requiring everyone to get an insurer to vouch for them regarding any crimes they might commit. If you are found guilty of a crime, you must pay a fine, your “voucher” must pay if you don’t, but then pays to punish you according to your contract with them. This fine in part pays the private bounty-hunter who convinced the court of your guilt. Competing bounty-hunters obey the law more than public police, as they find it harder to maintain a blue-wall-of-silence.
To lower your voucher premiums, you might agree to (1) prison, torture, or exile, if caught, (2) prior limits on your freedom like curfews, travel restrictions, ankle bracelets, and their reading your emails, and (3) co-liability wherein you and your buddies are all punished if any one of you is found guilty. In this system, the state still decides what behaviors are crimes and if any one accusation is true, and it sets fine and bounty levels regarding how hard to discourage and detect each kind of crime. But each person chooses their own “constitutional rights” via their voucher contract, and vouchers acquire incentives and opportunity to innovate and adapt, by searching in a large space of ways to discourage crime.
Some key details:
Judges and juries can retain discretion to consider case details when setting guilt or fines.
If fines vary with wealth or income, then the rich don’t get a free pass to commit crimes.
We could subsidize premiums, or offer a public option, to poor ex-cons for which we feel sorry.
Other poor ex-cons might have to work for a while at isolated ships or mining or logging camps.
The unvouched must be punished severely, not via fines, to make violations rare, as with license plates today.
Maybe each person wears RFID of voucher-client ID (VCID). Maybe violators are “outlaws” not protected by law.
It is enough to know VCID to charge with crime, no need to physically detain them.
Key criteria for being a voucher is showing that can pay fines.
Vouchers are held to contracts until clients find new vouchers.
Maybe contracts worse for clients over time if not renewed, to cover revealed-criminal scenarios.
Maybe contracts do not cover pre-existing crimes or plans, for which prior voucher pays.
Clients can switch at will, though co-liability partners must switch together.
Maybe first-to-file bounty hunter can prosecute first, or first to have bet market estimate good chance to win.
Courts would remain skeptical of both sides’ evidence, and faking evidence is a big crime.
Bounty-hunters access to evidence varies with contract-specified client privacy levels.
Bet market estimates of fines given privacy levels set extra fine factors paid by clients with high levels.
As immigrants & tourists must be vouched, it matters less if immigrants cause more crime.
Parents must get vouchers for kids, so “majority” age could be when kids can choose them on own.
Maybe solemn voucher signing ceremony, after pass test shows that understand contract.