Is it ethical to sell-off a criminal’s possessions to pay restitution to his victims? You’d certainly think so. After all, he took something from the victims, so he should have to give them back enough money to make up for what they lost. It’s a basic case of making good for the damage done.
When the crime is murder, of course, the victim isn’t around any more, and money can’t really make up for the loss of a life, but as a practical matter, the courts usually award a large sum to families of the victims. All the criminal’s money can be taken, and his assets can be seized and sold at auction to raise money for the families of the dead.
But what if the murderer is a famous murderer, and his only assets are worthless junk that is nevertheless valuable for being the property of a famous murderer? Is it ethical to pay restitution to the families of the victims from the sale of property that is only valuable because its owner murdered those same victims?
In the case of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Norm Pattis doesn’t think so.