Felons should not profit from crimes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Every day violent crimes are committed all across the U.S. The criminal justice system is supposed to protect the victims of these crimes and ensure that the criminal is given swift and just punishment, but there is a loophole in our current law that allows convicted felons to profit financially for the crimes they committed.

Even as I write this editorial there are several violent offenders on death row in Alabama reaping a financial reward because of their horrific criminal actions.

Currently two death row inmates, James Trawick and Daniel Siebert, who committed some of the most violent crimes a person can imagine, are now selling drawings, letters and essays describing their crimes on internet auctions sites for large sums of money.

While it is hard to imagine anyone paying money for these sick thoughts, we live in a world that has many disturbed people.

The fact is these two felons are profiting off the crimes they committed against helpless victims.

The victims and their families are not only forced to sit back and watch these criminals make money off their wrongful deeds but are subjected to living the horrible nightmare of their tragedies all over again.

This is not the criminal justice any of us have in mind when we want to see dangerous people punished for their crimes.

I have introduced legislation that would end the trafficking of this evil fame for a financial gain.

While the United States Supreme Court has ruled that you cannot restrict the free speech of a convicted criminal, it did say that under the U.S. Constitution you can eliminate any profit made from the free speech of a felon.

My bill, also known as the &8220;Notoriety Act&8221; would provide that all profits from the sale of any items, including books, movie rights, paintings and other personal items, from which value has been enhanced as a result of the crime of the inmate would be paid to the victims for restitution.

The law would also provide for any profits made above the restitution owed to the victims and their families would be paid to the court system to cover the costs incurred during the felon&8217;s trial.

The criminal justice system was designed to punish and not reward those who have harmed others.

This legislation will make sure that the rights of victims are made a priority over the financial gain of criminals.

State Rep. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) serves District 49. He can be reached by e-mail at mailto:camjulward@aol.com