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.