Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tabloid Crime and Punishment

Not one to regularly read the tabloids, I found myself on the Metro with nothing to do but peruse "Express", the Washington Post's pop culture spin off. To my surprise, however, there was an interesting article about Amy Winehouse's husband. Apparently, Blake Fielder-Civil, famous only as Winehouse's husband from what I can tell, assaulted pub owner James King and later offered him £200,000 to leave the country and refuse to continue prosecution. Now both men are being brought up on charges of "perverting the course of justice" (Does America have similar pervert statutes?).

My question is, if King agreed to the terms without coercion, what would make the resolution illegal? If the pub owner was the only one unjustly wronged in the assault, why can't determine justice in the situation? His choice indicates he believed himself better off from his attacker's financial compensation than from seeing his attacker detained in prison, and moreover state funds are no longer required to finance the expenses of a prison term. The only person who loses is Fielder-Civil's potential next assault victim, but it's not inconceivable that the financial and social penalties from tabloid exposure would do as much as a prison sentence to deter Fielder-Civil from committing another assault.

1 comment:

Pete Abbate said...

I guess my thoughts on crime would be that it's difficult to determine whether or not there is some coercion involved. And if we try to circumvent the legal system with personal settlements in criminal cases, we do undermine its value at least somewhat. In civil cases, the story is a little different, but in criminal cases that often involve physically harming a victim, I think there might be an obligation to do as much as possible to prevent future crimes.

Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty