Turning the Page

Another new year is upon us. I’m not going to reflect on the many successes and failures of 2016; although I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention that our biggest highlight was the birth of our son! (With four older sisters, good luck, boy.) Nor will I mention my resolutions for the new year (second attempt at one, btw). Instead I’m just going to mention my hope for something that I have no control over other than to pray for it to come to fruition.

I’m talking about the opportunity for my best friend from high school to get out of jail. I’ve written about him before, so just click here if you haven’t read that entry. Much like Winston Churchill I will never give up on the hope that he will some day rejoin the free world, but some days are harder than others to maintain the hope. However, I learned of a law proposal in Pennsylvania which may help him out.

Please read about House Bill Number 2135. This may be his ticket to freedom. I certainly hope it becomes so, if no other legal alternative presents itself. (The above link is to the state website, I recommend clicking on the memo for  a brief explanation and your choice of either HTML, pdf or Word version for the bill.)

I used to be a pretty staunch “law-and-order” kind of guy. I was pro-death penalty; pro-life imprisonment and the like. Time has changed me. So has my faith. Although the Catholic faith does permit the use of the death penalty in the most extreme circumstances (and my friend was never in threat of the death penalty due to well-written and thought out Pennsylvania statutes), the Church does frown upon its use and prefers mercy. And, no, not the kind of mercy in Joffrey Baratheon’s mindset. But even in looking at the history of the Church, and the whole Judeo-Christian history, those who kill can become instruments of God. Just look at Moses – who in this day and age would easily be convicted of involuntary manslaughter, worse if his attorney was less talented than the DA. Clearly Moses had a purpose which, had he been punished with death or a life sentence without parole, he would have never attained.

There’s a Catholic saint, Saint Maria Goretti, who was murdered while resisting an attempted rape. Her killer reformed himself while in prison and was actually present at her Canonization. Sure, quick “justice” or being “tough on crime” may seem more appropriate to many, but this is a beautiful end to a terrible story. Without mercy and the chance to repent, those languishing in our criminal justice system will never repent.

Not only that, but those in prison for life without parole (as is Brandon), will only ever be a burden on the taxpayers. By keeping the life without parole sentence (i.e. death by incarceration) we aren’t making those who commit crime pay, we are paying ourselves. Give them the chance to reform, return, and offer true restitution through their contribution to our society.

Yes, there are some truly wicked men and women who will never repent, and will always be a threat to society, or even just a small fraction of society. But give the parole boards a chance to hear them out and make the best decision on whether or not to let reformed criminals return to society and become contributors. Shouldn’t that be part of the Department of Corrections – returning them to society to act as correct citizens?

Perhaps this is all falling on deaf ears. So be it. Like I said, all I can do is pray. Then again, if anyone in Pennsylvania reads this and gets others on board, perhaps there really is more I can do.

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