What Makes “Rehabilitated”?

Have you ever asked yourself, “What makes ‘rehabilitated’?” Recently, I have been asked by a couple of free world people how to trust that someone is rehabilitated after a criminal conviction. It’s an important question, but it comes with a complex catch… My counter question is, “Where do your values lie? That’s a grounding point for how you trust someone’s rehabilitation.” For many, some crimes are far more redeemable than others. For instance, I had someone from the free world this week casually justify a murder of a “bad guy” and staunchly condemn a sexual based offense. Whether it be a burglary, identity theft, murder or a sex crime, if you truly believe in justice, absolutely none of them can be given any room for acceptance in any regard. In prison, the most narrow minded, vile people enjoy the ability to stratify categories of crime. This cannot be a practice that a civilized, law abiding society is willing to accept. EVERY crime tears at the fabric of that society, not to mention the individual traumas incurred by the victims of those crimes. If all crimes are equally bad (and I believe in my sense of rehabilitation that they all are), then what is just, fair and equitable to satisfy the correction for the social good?

In a the shortest possible answer I can come up with, it boils down to an equation… A perpetrator’s humility equals a change in thinking and behavior. That change is then the catalyst for the repair of that torn social fabric, culminating in a forgiveness by society and an acceptance of that repaired fabric. With any part of this equation missing, justice will be also. Humility is nearly the one exclusive ingredient for change. Change from crime to desistance is absolutely mandatory for the social repair. And society must be willing to see all crime as bad and all efforts to rehabilitate as the opening for forgiveness. Without humility, without change, and without forgiveness, justice will be the elusive and continuous pipe dream it currently is in our country. What crimes are too much to forgive? Great question… ask a prison skinhead gang member and they will lay out the stratum. Or, be civilized and recognize the humility and rehabilitative efforts of all people who’ve committed a crime. We can’t undo the making of a victim, but the sentence is the effort of the state to bring justice. When the person sentenced finds humility, that might just be a reason for forgiveness.

by Rory Andes

Forgiveness of a crime can be just as complex as the motivations for it…

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