Rev. Bonnie Young’s original post stirred some controversy that spilled over to other blogs. Some of the feedback compelled an administrator to make unauthorized changes to the text of the article. I am correcting those changes and re-posting Rev. Young’s contribution as originally written.
Mary Ellen Johnson
By The Rev. Bonnie Young
The processes of criminal justice in this nation are marred by political motives. District Attorney’s offices promise the victims of crime that they are going to process the alleged criminal to the fullest extent of the law to coerce the victim into compliance with their method of prosecution. This is not for the benefit of the victim, the process of justice or for the good of the public at large. They are seeking job security and the possibility of promotion. They are not in the position to guarantee any kind of sentence or judgment as those decisions are not in their hands. The District Attorney is only responsible for presenting evidence that proves there has been a crime committed and that the evidence indicates the person charged is indeed the one who committed the crime. Any other promise made is just a conciliatory statement made to secure an alliance with the victim.
Victims who make it a point to be present and speak out against any policy changes are severely damaged and they are but ONE voice in the conversation, ONE viewpoint in the argument. They have chosen to deal with the pain and anger of their circumstance by spewing it on others. If law makers are to put into effect laws that are in the best interest of their constituency they must consider the opinion of all the people they represent and not just the loud voice that stands in front of them yelling. By allowing this to be the voice of reason, our lawmakers are making victims of us all.
The truth is we ARE all victims. Not one of us involved ever imagined, when we woke up in the morning, on the day of the crime, that our lives would forever change. Not one of us ever expected that on one day in one given hour, everything we were planning, dreamed of or believed for our future would be derailed. We have all suffered trauma, pain, loss, humiliation, anger and hopelessness.
In answer to the lawmakers and victims groups: It is not the responsibility of Pendulum, CCJRC, NJJN, or any other advocacy organization to keep victims organizations informed on policy proposals. It is the job of the representatives and senators to seek the opinion of the public and examine policies that will be in the health and interest of the people they represent.
It is only when we come face to face with ourselves that transformation comes. There will be a time when the voice of the victim will be confronted on the legislative floor….in truth and love…with the intention of showing the destructive actions their behavior has on those around them……and on themselves.
The issue of just punishment has been an argument through the ages. The issue of whether or not we should implement the standard and requirements of rehabilitation has been argued and decided in favor of both sides of the argument. However, if we are a nation founded on the principles of God and the bible, then we must believe in redemption, restoration, forgiveness and healing. Quite honestly there is no documentation that anything else works.
I have written two very powerful articles on the biblical standard for justice. Jesus did not give us a list of sin in ascending or descending order…..all sin and fall short…but he never turned anyone away…..he healed them all so that they might be free to become who they were created to be.
Do inmates who do not have a victim or prosecutor advocating AGAINST them get released sooner? The answer is yes.