Punishment Vs. Restitution

Dave Killion — June 5, 2011

A Chicago man with over 50 traffic violations and a history of drug abuse has pled guilty to killing two British men in a hit-and-run two years ago. His sentence? After agreeing to pay an undisclosed amount to the widows, Ryan LeVin will serve two years house arrest at his parent’s oceanside condominium. Some folks are less than pleased –

Given that LeVin’s sentencing guidelines called for up to 45 years behind bars, some legal experts say the case seems to be an unsettling example of checkbook justice.

“It is an unbelievably light sentence,” said Michael Seigel, a University of Florida law professor and former federal prosecutor. “It is very disturbing.”

Given that the amount of restitution is undisclosed, I don’t know how Professor Seigel can find the sentence unbelievably light. More importantly, the actual victims in this case have been made whole, which was an unlikely outcome had the court been concerned more about punishment than restitution. What happens when the opposite is the case?

By comparison, a South Florida driver who pleaded guilty to a similar hit-and-run crash with one fatality was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison and ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution.”

That sort of consequence may prove more satisfactory for folks like Professor Seigel, but as a libertarian, it’s clear to me which end result has better served the victims.

Comments

G says

Good article. Ultimately, justice is about restitution and not punishment. Restitution to those affected by initiation of force should be first and foremost. However, with manslaughter comes an interesting predicament – is restitution truly possible? I don’t know the answer to this question but it clear to me that as much restitution as possible to those affected should be first.

I often wonder why we don’t have more personal liability insurance for activities than just driving a car…

— June 5, 2011

Ms. Killion says

woah, you just blew my mind!

— June 28, 2011

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