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Posted by on Aug 27, 2017 in About Blackacre, Blackacre, Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice System Reform, Forgiveness, incarceration, Justice, Leadership, Leo Barron Hicks, Progressive policy, Progressive Think Tank, Public Policy, social welfare | 2 comments

A New Statue of Limitations

How relevant is a 10-year old criminal conviction to protecting society, punishing the law-breaker, deterring further criminal conduct or rehabilitating the wrongdoer? How predictive of future behavior is a prior offense that spans decades?

These questions are especially germane where the individual in question has paid his debt to society, has not re-offended for multiple, consecutive years and is otherwise a law-abiding, productive citizen. Consider further the blatant bias, questionable ethics and tendency of the criminal justice system to always get it wrong, to punish the innocent and above all, to protect itself.

Many legal actions, both criminal and civil, impose a strict time limit by which action must be taken. Otherwise known as statutes of limitations, these laws stand for the proposition that disputes should not be allowed to grow stale, fester and putrefy. Rather, they should be resolved within a reasonable length of time.

We do not suggest that criminals be coddled or that society be subject to dangerous career offenders. Nonetheless, public and political grievances against those with a criminal conviction should also be subject to a statute of limitations.

For all but the most egregious offenses, after a suitable length of time, with appropriate penance and restitution, along with reasonable assurance that the ex-offender poses no further threat to society, criminal convictions should be expunged, forgotten and forgiven.

2 Comments

  1. What a thought evoking question since there are many sides to consider.

    For instance, all of the founding fathers were convicted en abstencia of treason and sedition, under penalty of death, by the British crown…and how many of them became president later? Never saw there probation or parole logs.

    Also, it seems rather hypocrital since the idea of “paying your debt to society” means that once you have done your time, its supposed to be over. Instead its held over peoples heads forever now that computers are involved.

    And then, of course, it depends on who you are as well as how much money you have. Fred Smith (Fed Ex founder) has accidentally killed people twice while driving, no court, no conviction, but then he is a member of Skull and Bones (like his buddy George W. Bush. That being said, G.W.B. ran a car off a bridge with Ted Kennedy and that barely got a police report!Many of historys greatest authors have been arrested and imprisoned.

    So is a conviction relevant in the future? That may depend on the “future”. What I mean by that is what work is being done by the person convicted to contribute to the long term good of other people? Fred Smith employs thousands, as does G.W. Bush. Teddy was a Senator forever and his rich family creates thousands of jobs. Writers works last for generations, and we know what the founding fathers created.

    But for an everyday person who never gets in trouble again, it should be irrelevant as well, since the debt was paid. That would be like paying your credit card off and getting another bill later that says “pay this now just in case you charge later”. After all, you once had an account balance.

    Bottom line to me, as a control factor its either a dissuader or a catalyst for change, depending on the person. Some evolve beyond it and it doesn’t matter. Others use it as a crutch for why they failed later. Still a personal choice, ambition, or lack thereof.

    • Love the credit card analogy. And the points you made about our founding fathers and the arbitrary nature of forever stigma is spot on. I also agree with the crutch factor you referenced. Thanks for the deep and insightful commentary.

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