As already said in Chapter 1, access to money is unequally distributed between individuals in society. In fact, the origins and evolution of money were closely intertwined with the rise and consolidation of class society and inequality. These factors mutually reinforced the development of one another, to the point where it has been said that ‘the origins of money are to be found in the origins of inequality’ (Semenova and Wray 2015: 1), with money playing a key role in establishing, maintaining, and exacerbating inequality and class division in societies (Henry 2004; Martin 2013: 60ff.). Money-based societies are more economically unequal as money is unevenly spread (Dodd 1994: 150), a state of things generated by the institutional system that produces money itself (Ingham 2000: 68). As clearly stated by Semenova and Wray (2015: 2),

To put it simply, as soon as one witnesses the emergence of money, one observes the rise of class society and socioeconomic inequalities. Money, class society, and inequality came into being simultaneously, so it seems, mutually reinforcing the development of one another.

The unequal distribution of money puts a clear and definite limit on the fairness of tariff- and fixed-fine systems. Spanish author Pacheco wrote,

The fine is a punishment of a singular kind, and has little in common with most other punishments established by law. While these cases encumber the person or freedom, which is almost the same person, those affect wealth only, which is something very different. The level of personality is the same for all men, and freedom is similar: wealth is so varied, men’s fortunes are so disparate and diverse […]. Therefore, if a personal punishment, death, custodial sentence, imprisonment, affects all men to an equal or similar extent, a pecuniary punishment is the most unequal that can be conceived, when it is applied in identical measures to two persons of different wealth.

(Pacheco 1856: 414–415) Fairness requires recognition that the same fine may have a disproportionately severe impact on certain offenders. If monetary penalties, like the fine, are set, 80they disproportionately affect those people whose income is limited. A high fine on a poor offender invites default. This means that it can result in imprisonment for an offence for which custody was not considered appropriate. Conversely, if the fine is set low, wealthier offenders can simply pay and go home, without having felt the ‘bite’ of punishment, which decreases fines’ punitive potential. The problem of imposing fines which had to be appropriate both to the offence and to the offender was faced by all European criminal justice systems during the nineteenth century. A system had to be developed to subvert the inequality-inducing characteristic of the unequal distribution of money in society via the adaptation of the fine to the offender’s financial circumstances, but without giving the impression that the court takes a lenient view of the offence. Equality of impact came to be widely accepted as a strong principle of fairness in the calculation of fines. As we will see in the next sections, this change was boosted by the wave of criticism against short-term prison sentences that reached its peak at the end of the nineteenth century.