Thursday, 4 August 2011

Levi Bellfield's compensation claim

The notion of paying compensation to vile murdering rapist Levi Bellfield is abhorrent, although it's quite possible he has a case, but it's this line in the Mail's story which gets me thinking:
Bellfield’s claim, which adds to the £4million legal bill he ran up trying to escape justice, provoked a storm of condemnation.
Added to this £4 million will be the cost of incarcerating him, hopefully for the rest of his life, which in his case will probably run to around £30K per year. And there's one other cost which is always overlooked: that is the cost of his crimes.

Let me digress for a moment by flagging up this recent comment from Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance, which is one I fully endorse:

Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, on LBC with Andrew Pierce of The Daily Mail, on Tuesday the 2nd August 2011. They discussed whether criminals are being sent to prison for long enough.

Sean says yes and no for these reasons:

  1. Many people are being sent to prison, or threatened with prison for crimes that should not exist and that often did not exist until recently. For example, there should be no laws against the sale and possession of recreational drugs where only adults are concerned. It is wrong to make a crime of doing with yourself as you please. Again, it was scandalous that Nick Griffin of the BNP risked seven years in prison for uttering words about Islam that would once have gone utterly unremarked.
  2. At the same time, many people who are convicted of serious crimes are often let out of prison after derisory sentences, or even before these sentences have been fully served. in prison, they are given comforts or even luxuries that people outside often struggle to buy.

A libertarian response to the perceived crisis of criminal justice is to stop punishing people for non-crimes, and to make sure that those who do commit crimes are not allowed to escape after little more than a slap on the wrist. This may not mean longer prison sentences or stricter conditions in prison. It may mean moving the whole system away from punishment and deterrence, and toward some system of restitution to victims. Thieves should be made to restore what they have stolen, or its value. Violent criminals should be made to compensate their victims in the same manner as in the civil courts. Those who cannot afford to pay damages should be set to forced labour until they have earned enough.

There are obvious problems with a system based on restitution. What about rich criminals, who enjoy hurting people and are willing to pay for their tastes? What about the companies running the forced labour gangs? They would become another corrupt special interest in a country already tending towards a plutocratic police state. But these are problems to be discussed and settled. They do not compare with the existing fact that our criminal justice system does not work, and cannot be made to work.

As he says: "Violent criminals should be made to compensate their victims in the same manner as in the civil courts. Those who cannot afford to pay damages should be set to forced labour until they have earned enough." This is an important issue to libertarians, and an example of how the state takes things over for its own ends, in this case criminal justice. The victim is effectively made to suffer twice; once by the crime and secondly by the state's usurpation of the victim's right of redress and restitution.

Returning to the original case in point, I have often wondered why criminals convicted of such crimes as Bellfield are not pursued for damages through the civil courts by the victim or the victim's family. For all I know there is a legal impediment, or maybe it's never occurred to anyone! Any lawyers out there who can shed some light will be thanked for their trouble.

Back to Bellfield. Let the judge in his compensation case treat him with the utter contempt he deserves and award him tuppence for his pains (and may God visit boils and locusts upon his whorish lawyers), but along with his compensation award, let him be presented with the bill for his incarceration, followed by a writ for damages from the families of his victims. Sure, he won't ever be able to pay more than a pitiful fraction of this, but every single thing he owns should be taken and sold and given to the victims' families, and he should also be put to work in whatever capacity is possible so that at least there is some good wrung from his disgusting, ill-begotten life.

7 comments:

Single acts of tyranny said...

Not a lawyer, so just personal experience, but enforcing CCJ's against people is not easy.

Persons unnamed owe me best part of £1700 and I obtained said CCJ and was awarded £50 a month (no interest) which is paid sporadically, yet my redress (ie warrant sale of seized goods), would cost quite a bit in terms of court and baliff costs, relies on the bailiff being successful and might well not even raise enough cash to cover my costs let alone recover monies owed.

It's not easy.

However, Bellfield does have one commodity which is valuable and sought after. Functioning organs.

In death he could do some good that he never did in life.

Trooper Thompson said...

Would you want an organ from that monster?

Call me superstitious, but not me.

Bucko said...

Not a lawyer either, but as I understand it, it's not supposed to be about money but about justice.
In crimes that don't merit prison, the victim can be made to pay compensation, but when a criminal has been sent to prison, that in itself is supposed to compensate the victim.
As for criminals applying for compo, thats disgusting

SadButMadLad said...

The point is not that criminals shouldn't be allowed to claim compensation, it's that it shouldn't be a "right".

Criminals should be able to claim compensation because there might be something somewhere that is an injustice even to prisoners. Life is a huge big subject and you can never know what might happen in the future. But it isn't a given.

However it should be the exception to the rule. The guideline should be that being a prisoner means you lose the ability to claim compensation for many issues that arise from being a prisoner. So no claiming compo for losing the "right" to smoke or being assaulted by another prisoner.

Trooper Thompson said...

SBML,

I disagree, I think he does have a right to claim compensation if the prison service has failed in their duty.

However, the award should be negligible, and he should be charged for the cost of his incarceration, which would mean any award would be swallowed up by the debt.

SadButMadLad said...

Trooper, I said it's not a "right". Doesn't mean that he doesn't have a valid claim. The term "right" is now used to mean everyone is entitled to everything as a given. It shouldn't be.

In the of Levi situation it should only be valid if there was an expectation that prison officers should monitor special case prisoners like him 24/7 and keep them separate.

Being able to make claims such as the "right" to smoke which was deprived of one prisoner who had cigarettes denied to him due to bad behaviour should not be allowed.

The compensation in any valid case should be commiserate with the person's situation. A prisoner should not get much, if any, and yes any money they make should go towards the cost of their incarceration.

Trooper Thompson said...

SBML,

let's not argue too much over it. We both agree that he shouldn't see a penny of compensation.