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Tynt

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Redemption… Rehabilitation… Forgiveness… Does everyone deserve it?


       “When rehabilitation works, there is no question that it is the best and most productive use of the correctional system. It stands to reason: if we can take a bad guy and turn him into a good guy and then let him out, then that’s one fewer bad guy to harm us. . . .
Where I do not think there is much hope is when we deal with serial killers and sexual predators, the people I have spent most of my career hunting and studying. These people do what they do because it feels good, because they want to, because it gives them satisfaction. You can certainly make the argument, and I will agree with you, that many of them are compensating for bad jobs, poor self-image, mistreatment by parents, any number of things. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to be able to rehabilitate them.”
 ~John E. Douglas


From the moment I wake up in the morning, until the time I lay myself back in bed, my days are filled. My bedroom has become my sanctuary; the place I breathe and schedule my “me time.” I read, listen to music, cuddle with my kids (yes that is for me J), brainstorm blog subjects, write, and last - but definitely not least - go through my DVR recordings, to catch up on shows I couldn’t see live but thought might be interesting.

A few nights ago I watched an episode of the “Dr. Phil show” that I recorded. This one in particular, was about the Ashley Toye story. This episode made me go through an array of emotions that ranged from disgust, rage, sadness, compassion and bafflement! Here’s my recap of the story in a nutshell… In 2006 two teenage boys, Alexis Sosa and his 14-year-old nephew, Jeffrey Sosa, were beaten and tortured for more than two-and-a-half hours, before being shot to death; their bodies were later set on fire in a burning car. All 10 suspects were teenagers themselves, including then 17-year-old Ashley Toye. At her trial, Ashley decided to not enter a plea deal as she figured she was a minor with no priors and … was pregnant (by the ring leader of their little sick “click”), which she thought would bring her sympathy from jurors. Inevitably, Ashley was later sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole. She got the maximum punishment for her role in the murders, which included carving symbols into the boys’ backs with a knife. Now - six years later - the United States Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life in prison without parole for murder, without a sentencing hearing that takes into consideration their age and development. Ashley and her lawyers are looking at this ruling as a possibility for a review of her sentence and the longshot-hope of having it reduced. In the show, Ashley’s divorced parents and siblings were present, along with The Sosa family (although they took the stage during different segments; never together). Along with that, we had footage of Ashley’s interview (behind bars), recounting the events of that night and how she doesn’t feel she is responsible for their deaths (although she participated in torturing them). She feels as though she shouldn’t be incarcerated for the remainder of her lifetime. She finished her interview by asking forgiveness of the victims’ family, specifically so that she can better cope, and be able to move on… I waited and waited to hear her apologize sincerely to the family, following her request (although the apology should have preceded it) but… nothing… the tears were about her own selfish concerns (her circumstances) and not about the pain she caused others by her actions…
I was simply baffled. My first thought was that her perception (after-the-fact) isn't any better than her forethought. How dare she ask the victim's family for forgiveness so that she can cope better?  She said she is not the 17 year old she was back then. No, she is not. She is a 23 year old girl that still hasn’t learned a thing. She still has her life, unfortunately they don’t… And they don’t because she assisted in their killings, and now they are gone. 

Redemption… Rehabilitation…

Anyone can demand and seek redemption but not everyone will put forth the effort needed or even have the understanding of what it takes to redeem yourself; or to deserve rehabilitation. Prison is just as much about punishment as rehabilitation. But rehabilitation is not possible without following through with your punishment. Even if we know for a fact that certain people, if released today, would never commit another crime, we still have to make sure they are punished – accordingly - and pay the consequences for their actions. If prison was only about rehabilitation, than I believe half of the prison community in the US jails ought to be sent home.

There are different types of crimes that range from petty to significant atrocities. Petty criminals that turn into repeat offenders or violent offenders will seek redemption if they wish, but will definitely need rehabilitation through counseling while serving their time - their punishments. Prisons need to be able to offer reformations and assist (from within) the inmates in preparing, starting and settling back into normal lives once out of the four walls of the jail.
I believe that crimes like those committed in sudden anger and heartbreak…those we like to call crimes of passion; don’t need rehabilitation. Those types of crimes can be perpetrated by people like you and me, who suddenly got pushed over the edge. In that, it didn’t allow time for their “boiling blood” to cool down and they snapped… Certainly, the person who takes a life under extreme emotional distress or extraordinary intoxication can be saved.... Do they need rehabilitation? Again, my answer is no… They may want redemption (if they wish), however; there definitely needs to be consequences to be held accountable for.     
Now for serial killers and related type murderers, (psychopaths, attachment disorders, and cold-blooded killers, etc.) my answer is no, no, no and NO! I do not believe they know what redemption means… and I certainly don’t think they can be rehabilitated. Can they possibly be reprogrammed through the use of medications, brainwashing and/or surgery? Yes, maybe so. But that isn't rehabilitation.   So as I said earlier, prison isn’t just about redemption or rehabilitating criminals, but mostly about making sure they serve the punishment that fits the crime they’ve committed. So for me, the common thread running through all types of criminals is that they all need to pay a certain price. And this last group of criminals I just mentioned - I strongly believe that whatever a jury of their peers or a judge deems appropriate as punishment – they need carry out that punishment (or sentence) to the end of its term…

So to go back to Ashley Toye, is she remorseful? I didn’t sense any of that! Does she deserve a lesser sentence? As far as I am concerned, she may be rehabilitated, but she still deserves punishment for the horrific crimes she assisted in.  Does she deserve a life sentence? After watching her interview with Dr. Phil, more than ever I say YES. The life sentence for her part in the murders of two teenagers seems appropriate. Let me explain… Everywhere in the world, there are good, decent people that turn around and do “bad” things… I also believe in my heart that no one should be dismissed as unredeemable because there’s always going to be someone out there who will see you in a different light. This is usually due to the relationship you once had or now have… so my point is, that when we look at people for who they are and not what they did we will always find some good in them, however; if the individual is not genuinely remorseful, sorry for their actions - but merely sorry they got caught - then no. I think there's no hope for redemption, rehabilitation or leniency! The genuine sociopath, however, is far too lacking in basic empathy for me to believe that they can truly be fixed. Unfortunately, the genuine sociopath is quite able to make all the right noises to persuade others of his remorse and good intent for the future...

Forgiveness… Moving on…

I believe forgiveness is a wonderful act, it has different spectrum as it can range from having to forgive someone for something as trivial as forgetting to return a call and forgetting ones birthday…to having to forgive someone that has left protracted damaging sequels that has left you emotionally handicapped (heartbreaks, betrayals, lies…). And all the way to what I personally consider the ultimate of all forgiveness, which is when you are able to forgive someone for taking love ones away from you in an unnatural, painful, sadistic and brutal way… I often hear about people that are able to forgive and that are even willing to meet and help the perpetrators… and I commend them for that!
Forgiveness means that we do not harbor resentment stemming from actions we did or someone else did. Forgiveness means that we are not dependent upon how someone else chooses to behave to map out our own course in life. Forgiveness also means that while you forgive someone for their trespasses against you, be they great or small, you also remember that you are not obligated to forget. To forgive means that you are no longer troubled by what happened in the past and that you have moved on.

I would like to think that I have evolved enough as a person to embrace forgiveness..... But to be honest, I wouldn't be able to do that in this extreme situation. I, like the family of the 2 slayed Sosa teenagers, would not be able to forgive because there is NO way I could understand and hear out the justifications, and the reasons why… or their motives for killing my child, killing my brother…even if their mind wasn’t 100% right. I don’t even think I would be at odds with my values; I know that in time, my anger would be calmed, my sadness settled, and my desire for retribution would pass. I would also have to leave forgiveness to those who can and trust in their fair decisions but for me a lifetime in jail will never equal the willful murder of someone…


Sometimes accepting an apology is just a pill too hard to swallow. That said, I would be able to move on knowing that they are paying the price for their actions…


RosieSandz
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