Crime and Punishment

So there was a hostage situation in the Burgh today. You can read the details here (I have not read the entire article yet). As it dragged on and before it thankfully ended peacefully, I started to think, as I have many times in crime-related situations, can you ever really "come back" from a serious crime?

I know someone who is a drug addict (once an addict, always an addict, and know that I say this without malice or condescension). This person has been in and out of jail more times than I know, starting if not before he was 18, then not many years after. Most charges were drug-related. At least one was for assault or something of that nature. And one or more were related to theft. After a particularly long stint in jail (one to two years; I forget as it has been about four or five years since), this person came out a better man. A changed man. I believed in him and that he finally had overcome this soul-crushing addiction, something he either did not want to or could not do before.

He was a good person to be around. I thought he might end up working with kids as he seemed so helpful, nurturing, and fun with them. But when you commit a felony, well, you are not going to get a job with children. At the time I thought it was a shame. He screwed up, many times, yes, but he seemed to have redeemed himself, so why should he continue to pay the price? Hadn't he done his time?

Alas, within a year, not long after said person received a degree, he ended up in jail on a drug-related charge for another long period. Unfortunately, when he came out of prison that time, the changes were not good. He had become rather negative. Racist. Mouthy. Blamed so many others for various things. Almost never thought he was wrong about anything. And he seemed always ready to pick a fight, even if just verbally. The good person that was once there was now gone. For that reason, I knew it was not a matter of if he would start using but when.

When eventually came, and I will stop that story there. A story that I wanted to tell in a book because four years ago, I thought it would have a happy ending. I wrote many pages of that book in my head, a story that I envisioned would chronicle when and how he came to use drugs (I don't know that part), the struggles he had over the years, and how he came out on top.

Believe it or not, the above tale is almost not the point of my post. But if that story had ended well (and I just don't think it will, which is why I say "had ended" not "ends" well), it could be.

How many chances do you give someone? And if someone commits a serious crime, should he be able to go on to live a productive life (i.e., get a decent job)? If not, then what is the point of his ever getting out of prison? And, maybe, just maybe, that is why some people just go down in flames, so to speak.


I don't have the answers.

But I am guessing not many people do either.


bluzdude said…
Sadly, it's an almost impossible job to save someone from himself.
Facie said…
I know, Bluz. But what if the person is trying to help him or herself? Do you try to cut that person a break? I just don't know.
Jessica R. said…
I have a cousin who has been in and out of drug rehab since he was 15 (he's now 27). Some of my family used to give me a hard time because I wasn't more forgiving after his third attempt and fail and attempt again in rehab and stealing from my grandparents. I'm kinder to him now, but after his now 20th or so attempt to get sober, I'm skeptical. I'll do what I can, but I won't enable. I guess it's sad that I don't know if he'll ever truly get clean. Though I have known at least 3 people who have honestly done it.
Facie said…
Jessica: Sounds like we are going through a similar experience. I have never been anything but nice to him, but that does not mean I have to be where he is going to be (even though this may cause conflict).

I know an alcoholic who has been sober for almost two years now. People can change if they really want to and are willing to give it their all. Otherwise, it it pretty much won't work.

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