From the Guardian comes the story of Iorworth Hoare, a man who won seven million pounds in the British lottery. The problem? He is a convicted rapist:

Mr Hoare is 15 years into a life sentence after being convicted of attempted rape in 1989. He was also jailed for a string of sex attacks during the 1970s and 80s.

He bought the ticket that won him a share of the £21m Lotto Extra jackpot while on temporary release from a Middlesbrough bail hostel on Saturday.

Since his crimes occurred more than six years, his victims are unable to file compensation claims. The culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, does not think Hoare should get the money.
But in an interview today with the BBC's World at One programme, Ms Jowell said: "What we can do in a very specific case like this, is to intervene and say that somebody in these circumstances who is a convicted prisoner can't receive lottery winnings - that those winnings should go instead to the benefit of victims.

"That's the kind of argument we are currently exploring, but I'm not in a position now to tell what the answer to that considered examination is going to be."

Even if Jowell's plan to deprive Hoare of the lottery winnings fails, the government plans to make new laws preventing prisoners from keeping any lottery winnings they might receive during their jail terms. If these laws become "retrospective," Hoare will lose his newfound wealth.

I think the British government is taking the wrong approach to this problem. While the fact that Hoare is now a multi-millionaire while his victims suffer in relative poverty is regrettable, Hoare did nothing illegal by buying the lottery ticket. While it is simple to make the claim that the moral thing for Hoare to do is to give the money to his victims, the only legal basis for them to receive money is through British compensation laws. Instead of preventing prisoners from buying lottery tickets, the government should look into compensation reform, which will prevent problems like this occuring in the future.