Skip to content
August 3, 2020 / Congau

A Felon

Once a felon, always a felon. The past can never be deleted, and what has once been recorded in the book of history, will remain there forever. You may wish it were otherwise, that your felony were converted into a mere crime and when you had suffered your punishment your record would be cleansed, and nothing had ever happened. That was the idea, wasn’t it? When the damage has been compensated, your debt to society has been paid and you are on even terms with mankind. Not so. Whatever your punishment was, time behind bars or a hefty fine, it didn’t undo what was done.

We like to believe in that illusion. It is too frightening to think that a misstep can never be corrected, and it’s comforting to imagine the rewinding of the past by a simple judicial device. The earthly power of the court must be a magic power, since it is actually able to create justice, mend what is broken and set the world aright. We know that a broken vase is smashed beyond repair but think innocence can be restored for a price.

No one can convict and no one can acquit another human being. The court only decides the criminal status of a person towards society and spell out the punishment that the law happens to stipulate. Society has found ways, good or bad, to deal pragmatically with its problems, but it has not the power to change reality or undo what is done. There can be no justice in a justice system, and guilt or innocence is not the result of a bargain.

But although nothing can be undone, it is not our duty to remember. A felon may remain a felon, but we don’t have to think of him as such. It is not the business of a human court to morally condemn, and we are humans too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: