The question this begs is this: At what point does one’s actions become unforgivable?
The founder of the Crips gang, Stanley “Tookie” Williams has gone on (in prison, admittedly) to become a prolific writer and a strong voice against gangs. Needless to say, many are working on the hope that he can live out the rest of his natural life, even if in San Quentin.
Standing against that are the courts, a huge background of silent public opinion (maybe not caring, as the rulings now seem pre-ordained?) — and The remembrance of what his actions have caused to the communities, either directly or indirectly.
So the question is: Can a man’s past make forgiveness impossible?
I’m not talking to the ya-hoos who say “the guy is the same as he always was;” what I wonder is whether certain actions in the past can make it impossible for a man to be rehabilitated?
In short, can you honestly say about someone:
Yes, judge, I know the man has done his work. He has repented of his act and begged for forgiveness. He has also used his time in Jail to make himself an intelligent, useful person to society. I (or the people whom this had begged forgiveness to) have indeed forgiven him for the crime, understanding that sometimes people can change for the better.
However, I cannot allow him to be set free. For you see, the actions this person did were so heinous that the proper punishment is to keep him away from society forever. Consider his actions and you will agree that his past action(s) preclude any other choice.
That comment about having forgiven the person was included for a good reason. I’m trying to remove all traces of hatred in the person’s judgement, the point being that: Is the past stronger than the present?
Now, in the case of Stanley “Tookie” Williams, that case is possible. After all, his dressing the gangs in Blue allowed for alliances of gangs across the city and nation; add in the drug trade and you have developed a massive power for evil. One that, even unplanned and unforeseen, seems to be enough to damn the man who started the whole thing.
Yes, I know: an extreme example. With other cases, I have to wonder. After all, the prison system is supposed to be about rehabilitation, isn’t it? Otherwise, you might as well grease the wheels to the electric chair and make of it an assembly-line type of contraption (Kill the guy, clean up in half-an-hour, ready for the next criminal) because if we’re going to keep people behind bars for life, what’s the use of having them there for their natural life?