There are certain crimes you hear about and think, "I hope they lock that animal up and throw away the key." That was certainly many people's reaction to James Degorski's crime. He was convicted of murder for participating in a 1993 robbery that ended in the massacre of 7 people at a Chicago restaurant. Fast forward to 2002 and it seems that Degorski became the victim of a crime behind bars and for his suffering he was recently awarded a half million dollars.
In a civil lawsuit bought against his jailers, he accused a guard of punching him and breaking his cheekbone and eye-socket right after his arrest for the murders. The jury felt he deserved $500,000 for what he had been through.
But this begs the question, what about what his victims deserved? What are their lives worth? In 1993, Degorski and an accomplice shot and stabbed two restaurant owners and five workers at Brown's Chicken and pasta during what police call a botched robbery. They then stacked the bodies in a walk-in freezer. That vicious act netted them $2000. All those lives for $2000.
Not surprisingly, relatives were bristling at his windfall. "If broken bones are worth a half-million, then how much are seven lives worth. This just doesn't feel right," said the sister of one of people murdered. It's hard not to agree with her, but fact of the matter is, even criminals have certain protections under the law.
When you think about his heinous act, it's difficult to accept that such a monster still has rights. But he does. And, he should. We can't strip people like Degorski of their civil liberties without doing the same to other people behind bars.
Hopefully heartbroken family members can find solace in the fact that he may not get a dime of that cash. Prison officials can try to seize it to cover the cost of his imprisonment. Now if that's not justice, I don't know what is.
Do you think Degorski deserves to keep the money?
Image via Timothy Pearce/Flickr