Schapelle Corby in jail.
Convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby has missed the deadline to appeal a Queensland court’s decision that proceeds from her bestselling memoir be frozen. In basic terms, this means Corby and her family won’t get to share in roughly $300,000 in book profits just yet, and if the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has his way, the Corby’s won’t ever see that fat cheque.
In 2005, Corby, a pretty surfer-chick from the Gold Coast, was sentenced to 20 years in an Indonesian prison for smuggling four kilos of marijuana into Bali. For a while, Corby was the poster-babe for Indonesian injustice. Email petitions did the rounds asking for signatures to send to the Indonesian government to (somehow) right some tragic wrong. Everybody was talking about it—if Schapelle wasn’t on the front page of the Herald-Sun, she was the main topic of water-cooler conversation. And everybody had an opinion. To hear some people tell it, the Corbys were nothing but a family of druggies, known Coast-wide as the go-to guys for all kinds of highs. Others, though, took Schapelle beneath their wings, and raged about how horrifying it was to see an Aussie girl suffering such torture at the hands of barbaric Indonesians. And some people tried to convince you they knew the real story—a friend of a friend bought weed from Corby’s this, that, or whatever. Still, whatever their opinion, few thought Schapelle deserved the hellish conditions of her Indonesian jail cell for four measly kilos.
It’s up in the air whether or not Corby did indeed smuggle drugs knowingly into Bali, but, regardless, she’s doing the time. The proceeds from the book, she says, were to be used to fund her appeals process. Now, here’s where things get tricky. The DPP doesn’t want the convicted criminal making loads of money based on her status. But why, really? Who does it hurt? Corby believes she has a chance through her appeals to get out of jail early, so why can’t she take advantage of a gossip-thirsty book-buying public who snapped up her memoir (co-written with journalist Kathryn Bonella) in droves?
I’m torn on this one. On the one hand, I can understand the DPP’s ruling. If we let this convicted criminal make money from her notoriety, we’ll have to let the rapists and child killers do it, too. And where will it end? But it’s not like Schapelle’s out buying luxury cars. Should criminals with open appeals use their status to financial advantage purely to handle legal costs? I’m trying to see the difference between Schapelle selling her story and profiting, and a SchapelleStock-type music festival that might be held for her to do the exact same thing. And that happens all the time. How great is the difference, if it’s all in the name of justice?