Under a law enacted last year, the U.S. Treasury will pay the Sutherlands the $53 million in compensatory damages, plus a 10 percent bonus, in exchange for them transferring rights to the rest of the claim.
It sounds kinda like those companies that offer to buy out your annual-payment lottery winnings or large legal settlements for a lessened lump sum up front. As for whether this is the best thing that happened to them- well, 70 months is a long time, and they couldn't know during that time that this would be the end result. If it had been offered as a deal up front- 5 years, 10 months in prison for $353M when you got out- a lot of people would take that bargain, abuse and all. Hell, I'd take that bargain if it were set up like that: Skip college, start the jail time at 18, get out at 24, and be worth $353M to enjoy snorting coke off a stripper's tits for the next 75 years of your life...posted by hincandenza at 7:20 PM on June 26, 2001
Back on topic... I actually do think that the money can make up for it. Or more accurately, that the money doesn't make it better, per se (although $53M is a LOT of money- for example, imagine donating all of it to Amnesty Interntional, eh?), and I think on the whole they'd always prefer to have the time back sans imprisonment: no prison and a normal life vs. 6 years in prison and a large fortune, well- money isn't everything. But if someone was offered that as a deal up front, so that they knew while in prison that they'd spend exactly X number of years and upon leaving they'd make untold millions of dollars, then yeah- I think a lot of people would do that.
I guess I also want to point out that the human spirit is resilient. I don't know (and frankly, don't want to know) what Sutherland went through beyond the imprisonment, but money or no money, he's survived because people are survivors. It doesn't make it right, but it continues to amaze me how much people can endure, things I can't imagine undergoing. And if anything can help ease the memory, money might. I know that sounds callous, but that money can if nothing else give him leverage to maybe help prevent this sort of thing from happening elsewhere...posted by hincandenza at 11:52 PM on June 26, 2001
I thought I'd made that clear...posted by hincandenza at 10:56 AM on June 27, 2001
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