The system is not very good at being egalitarian, as it has a hard time both being egalitarian and appearing egalitarian. It appears egalitarian when everyone gets an 800 fine for the first DUI. It is egalitarian when judges take into account how much money a person has, if they can work, etc. This is because the point of the fine is punishment, rehabilitation, protecting society, and deterring others. 800 fines do these things differently depending on the person standing there. Judges usually try to do proper sentencing, but often have default positions on certain things.
What if they have a past where they still owe fees and fines? Judges start ordering community service, or jail. "Graduating sentencing" is the idea.
What's lost is of course a moment to figure out what is going wrong. A lot of people are getting driving without privileges charges over and over because they are simply deep in debt and you can't live or work without driving in Idaho. Are they supposed to move away? The system becomes a destructive loop, and a person who was just down on their luck rapidly finds himself unable to move forward.
Paul Ryan, who I generally find interesting but don't think highly of, just put out a new book (you can google it, I'm not trying to help him sell the thing). He wants to have social worker/case managers available for all the folks that need help (among other things, but let's be myopic for a moment).
My thought on hearing that was: whoa, I have thought that same thing for years.
Apparently, we're not the only ones to be thinking this is a great idea, but not a lot of Republicans are pushing for it. And all I see is him being criticized on right and left. I just want to say, it's a great idea. Being poor is exhausting, living in poverty is far more work and more stress than being in the middle class. Having a person who knows what resources are available and can quickly assist a person in doing things would be awesome, particularly if they could do it in that persons office, rather than needing to go to multiple offices and make multiple appointments for everything.