Real Justice Preserves Consequences

Posted on January 12, 2016 in Justice

Real justice can only exist

Two weeks ago, friends of mine asked me to edit a letter written to a county parole board. The letter articulated their case against the release of a person who pled guilty to second degree murder of one of their family members nineteen years ago.

My friends said in the letter that the convicted murder hadn’t renounced the crime or demonstrated remorse. Based on the offender’s behavior in prior parole hearings, my friends have a reasonable fear that, if released, the offender would pursue retribution.

“Doing justice” is clear to me in this case—if no “correction” has happened after nineteen years in the correctional system, then parole should be denied. The risk of repeat offense is too high. Exposing the victim’s family and the community at large would be an injustice.

But what about “loving mercy”? Is it even an issue here?

The Bible says it’s God’s will that none would perish, but all would come to repentance. His mercy is available to all who acknowledge their sins for what they are—even convicted murderers—and ask for the forgiveness Jesus paid for with His life.

They receive an eternal “not guilty” verdict.

So, let’s say this convicted murderer had a change of heart. That he demonstrated remorse and repentance. That he received and professed Christ. What then?

The reason to extend mercy to anyone is to restore relationship. There are multiple stakeholders in this case, and all must be protected. Can someone who had the capacity to kill an innocent victim ever be trusted?

The greater the offense, the steeper and more difficult the path to rebuilding trust.

Real justice can only exist when the consequences of wrongdoing are preserved. Otherwise, mercy has no redeeming effect.