People get arrested every day. Accused criminals get found guilty and convicted every day. Convicted criminals get released from jail and prison, and start the road towards reintegrating into society every day. People play the lottery every day. Some of those players win every day.
So it stands to follow, every once in a while, someone with a criminal record is going to win playing the lottery. Every once in a while, a former felon is going to win a large payout. Such was the case with Timothy Poole in central Florida, as detailed in this CW39 NewsFix story among others. It was quickly found out he had served time for a sexual abuse offense some years prior, and was released in 2006.
There is, of course, no law against playing the lottery due to criminal history. Nor should there be. Yet some people think Timothy shouldn’t be allowed to keep the money because of the nature of his crime. The only way I’d possibly take the side that the winnings should be forfeited, is in cases where the winner was still on probation or parole and had a specific prohibition against buying lottery tickets or even gambling in general as a condition of release. Even then, it’s a stretch, as I’d question why the hell such a condition was there to begin with.
It is unrealistic to sentence more than the worst offenders to either life without possibility of parole or death. Not to mention, it’s a violation of their Eighth Amendment rights (in the US). So, at some point, the vast majority of individuals convicted of crimes will be released either from confinement, or even from parole or probation to unsupervised life in the free world. State lotteries, casino gambling, and many other things are part of life in the free world.
The stark reality is that Timothy did his time and his debt to society is paid; it’s not unlike paying off, say, a $10,000 credit card balance. It’s unfair to him to say just because he’s now $3 million richer from playing the lottery that there’s suddenly a larger balance due on that debt. It would be like a credit card bank deciding years later after one gets a large windfall, that one suddenly owes another $5,000 in interest for a debt paid off years ago. Most people would be outraged at this, and rightfully so. It’s the same principle here, except there’s a lot more than $5,000 at stake.
I’m not condoning what Timothy did years ago. Sex crimes are some of the most heinous. I’m not going to get into any details of the crime itself because it doesn’t matter, the sentence is discharged and I’m not even going to get into Timothy’s proclamations of innocence; if it develops into more of a story I may revisit it later. What I am going to get into is this: those who feel Timothy wasn’t sentenced properly should take it up with the judge who presided over his case, and/or the prosecuting attorney(s) who handled it. If that doesn’t work, vote them out, vote out the people who appointed them, hell, vote against every incumbent still around from 2006 if that makes you feel any better. But today, Timothy’s a law abiding citizen until proven otherwise, and to go after the $3 million that he won honestly playing the lottery is attempted theft. And I think you know by now how I feel about thieves.