Monday, June 6, 2016

"Don't Do The Crime ...

... If You Can't Do the Time."

That's the famous aphorism isn't it? And, on its face, a sensible enough conviction; we all should be ready to accept the consequences resulting from our actions. In the case of our criminal actions, the courts determine our sentence and we ultimately fulfill that sentence will-we, nil-we., or so goes the theory.

And if we have been convicted of a felony and completed the decreed penalty, still we forever bear the legislative Mark of Cain as we attempt to return to the ranks of "good citizen".

Unless you live in the US state of Virginia (and only committed a "good" felony, of course), in which case you get some of your Constitutionally guaranteed rights (sorry about the video auto-start, blame The Atlantic) handed back to you. For the current voting cycle anyway; no telling what some subsequent Legislature and/or Governor will come up with down the temporal road.

The God Of Abraham may indeed be the vicious, cruel, and vindictive individual He is touted to be in the various editions of His Book, I hold to my more general Agnosticism on that topic too, but I don't think acting so on our own claimed Constitutional Authority is in any way consistent or even reasonably arguable. Unless you choose to argue from a basis of your personal fear and cowardice.

Can we take as a given that laws are, or at least ought to be, written so as to punish those duly convicted of violating them (and reasonably expected to inhibit committing said crime just by consequence of their very existence)? If that truly be the case, why do we think it such a good idea to impose a lifetime penalty as well?

If commission of a given action is deemed worthy of imposition of a period of incarceration (or "only" just a financial penalty), isn't it only honest and consistent with the stated justification for our having Constitutionally Guaranteed Rights (capitalized to drive home a point about the source of said rights) (for the record, I consider rights to be an intrinsic component of the human condition, regardless of any individual's viewpoint regarding how that human condition came into existence) that individual exercise of those rights be temporarily suspended pending completion of the duly adjudicated penalty imposed? If an action taken outside the law deserves a limited penalty, why do we insist on imposing a lifetime penalty anyway?

If you are afraid that some convicted felon might offer a threat to you just by his (or her's; let's not add sexism to your burden of justification too) very existence, maybe the more logical, not too mention effective, method for you to pursue is to increase your individual defenses against anyone doing you harm. Because we all only have to look at incarceration rates to recognize how effective a deterrent criminal laws are, don't we?

I also abhor the petty politicization that Virginia's recent restitution of certain civil rights has taken, but I also recognize the strategic inevitability of that occurring. I just happen to believe that making "good citizenship" an easily achievable standard works to all our better long-term interests as a nation built on the exercise of individual human rights.

What's your excuse?

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