Can a Convicted Felon Win the Lottery? Life moves on after a felony charge. Films like Shawshank Redemption show a beautiful ending of how ex-felons live life in Mexico, although Andy never “really” got out but that’s for another day. But life isn’t sugar-coated as they show in movies. Many privileges and even basic rights like having a job are somewhat restricted from having a felony charge. One of those could be winning lotteries which have attracted negative media attention in the past when ex-felons have gone on to win them. I aim to discuss some of the views and try to logically explain both sides.
Legal Implications of Felons Winning the Lottery
Legally speaking there should be an issue in obtaining a lottery and scooping up the prize from a lottery office, given that they are not incarcerated and still are not serving their sentence. But, if they haven’t served their sentence, in most states in America and countries like the UK, felons have limited rights. (1) So conventional wisdom would suggest no and there are no legal bindings that stop someone from doing so. But, police officers or any person related to the justice system would be on to them when taking up the lottery money, as shown in many heist movies. I haven’t come across real-life implications in my research.
There have been many incidents where a public rage has been seen to erupt.
For example, when a convicted rapist, named Iorworth Hoare in the UK won £7 million. Legally he was allowed to play and participate in the lottery although he was barred from taking the money while in prison. (2) But the incident was received with mixed views. With some people dismissing felons to win lotteries as a whole, some supported the idea as he was not legally restricted from taking part in the lottery and logically debated their view while some making a joke out of it exclaiming that his prison costs should be paid by him and not the taxes of commoners. You can read more of the views, from the references. (3)
Another example of a convicted sexual predator who picked up $3 million in Florida with a scratch-off ticket. Poole is listed on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website as a sexual predator. Poole was arrested in 1999 for a charge of sexually molesting a 9-year-old boy.
He was sentenced to three years in prison after his probation got canceled and released in 2006 after he failed to show at counseling sessions in 2003. Florida state law does not prohibit convicted felons from participating in lottery contests. (4)
Logic and Morality
Is it fair for felons to win a lottery? Morally speaking it’s a slippery slope. On the one hand, the felon has been punished and possibly regrets his or her actions, and then, on the other hand, the felon has committed a crime that not only affects the victim in mental ways but also physical ways and also the people around him or her. Now it is not possible to check how a felon has “rehabilitated” or if they truly regret their actions because it is not possible to go inside heads and decode their thought processes.
At least for now. Maybe in the future, it could be but for now, ambiguity is all we have. So, does it make sense that an individual who has committed an intense crime be able to test out their luck? Logically speaking it completely does. The criminal has not done anything wrong and is abiding by the law. But morally and emotionally speaking this does not make any sense.
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Can A Felon Win The Lottery?
Should any felon participate in a lottery competition?
The chance of winning a lottery is 1 in 45 million. I did not calculate that. (5) But the odds do not seem favorable for anyone, let alone a felon. But you never know until you take your bets. But it goes for anybody that wants to be in a lottery competition and the odds do not seem to be in anyone’s favor. One of the aspects of life where the felon is not at a disadvantage.
My thoughts on if a felon can win a lottery are mixed. From an emotional standpoint, I completely agree with people’s views of snatching every right of a felon right away and put in jail all the time. But felony charges have a myriad of things included. This includes crimes like robberies and drug abuse as well, which I feel should be let go because I thief and an addict can mend their ways but people who have committed even more heinous crimes like rape, and murder shouldn’t be left off the hook.
According to many criminologists who have concluded from data that criminals who have committed intense crimes tend to have more chances of returning to their crooked ways after their release from prison. A person that unstable and with really good luck could do so much harm with that amount of money. But the consequence could be very different as well because a lot of crimes stem from poverty and any crime trends tend to drop off after World War II after which there was a rapid boom. (6) So it could easily be that criminal mends their ways getting so much money at once.
But I feel my moral compass is more on the side of letting the felons play and participate in lottery competitions because one the odds of them winning is almost next to none and second even if they do there could be a high chance that they mend their ways.
With the topics and views discussed above, it is quite clear that felons can legally participate and obtain money from the lotteries if they hedge their bets and there have been some cases as well of such a thing happening. Although there are a few social implications to keep in mind as well, which is quite understandable and comes from an emotional standpoint. So can a felon win the lottery? Well, it depends on their luck.
- Felony disenfranchisement in the United States. In: Wikipedia [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 27]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Felony_disenfranchisement_in_the_United_States&oldid=985585716
- Rapist scoops £7m on Lotto Extra. 2004 Aug 11 [cited 2020 Oct 27]; Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3554008.stm
- Should lottery rules for prisoners be changed? 2004 Aug 14 [cited 2020 Oct 27]; Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/3554936.stm
- Florida sexual predator wins $3 million lotteries. Can he collect? Christian Science Monitor [Internet]. 2014 Dec 11 [cited 2020 Oct 27]; Available from: https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2014/1211/Florida-sexual-predator-wins-3-million-lottery.-Can-he-collect
- 13 things more likely than winning the lottery – Save the Student [Internet]. [cited 2020 Oct 27]. Available from: https://www.savethestudent.org/save-money/things-more-likely-than-winning-lottery.html
- What Happened during World War II? | AHA [Internet]. [cited 2020 Oct 27]. Available from: https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha-history-and-archives/gi-roundtable-series/pamphlets/em-3-is-a-crime-wave-coming-(1946)/what-happened-during-world-war-ii
Robert Gomez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He currently lives in Northern California with “the wifey,” “the kids,” “the dog,” and “that cat,” 🙁 He is also a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row. Felonyfriendlyjobs.org was born to help ex-felons get a second chance in life.