Justice or Mercy?

The new Pope talked about Mercy to the faithful in his speech yesterday.  I think that is an interesting topic to look at and one that I ponder from time to time.  I think it depends on which side of the discussion you reside on.  Lets start with Mercy:

[mur-see] Show IPA
noun, plural mer·cies for 4, 5.
compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.
the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing: an adversary wholly without mercy.
the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
an act of kindness, compassion, or favor: She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.
something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing: It was just a mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened.
I would think that from the above definition, if you are an offender you would hope for mercy.  It is like the half full glass and you would look for the goodness of the person if you are the judge.  I would think the new Pope in his way is asking for the people judging the Catholic Church would show mercy and be willing to overlook any past transgressions.  
On the other side of the coin, I think there is a lot of  me that looks for Justice first.


[juhs-tis] Show IPA
the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause.
rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason: to complain with justice.
the moral principle determining just conduct.
conformity to this principle, as manifested in conduct; just conduct, dealing, or treatment.
the administering of deserved punishment or reward. 
This is what the person that has had a crime done against them wants.  The prosecutor in a trial wants justice done to the guilty.  In a perfect world, there would be no need for sentencing guidelines as it would be self evident.  If it was only justice, there would be only the trial phase for guilt and innocence and the guilty would go to jail.  
This morning there was talk on the radio of two teenagers that raped a drunk 15 year old girl. To add insult to that injury, they put pictures of the girl on the net.  In my perfect world, the sentence for the two boys was way too merciful and not enough Justice.  One of the boys was sentenced to one year in a juvenile facility and the other two years.   They will have the Sex offender follow them around for the rest of their life but they would both do at least 10 years in my book.  

In the Military, I served on both sides of a Courts Martial.  I was on the jury on one case and the defense on the second case.  The person in the first case didn't want to go to Vietnam and broke a saucer in the hospital on purpose while talking to a counselor.  He was sentenced to 30 days in the local stockade.  The value of the saucer was less than a dollar and I had serious concerns that the trial showed no mercy.  The reviewing headquarters reduced the sentence to reduction of one grade for the conduct and made the soldier pay for the saucer. 

The second trial I was involved in was for a young soldier that was caught with a bag of marijuana by the CID.  I think it was a set up, but the soldier did in fact purchase and possess the grass.  We went to trial and  our plea was guilty with extenuation and mitigating circumstances.  All the case by the prosecution was not read or testimony was not given.  I took statements from the soldier's chain of command that they thought he was a fine young soldier and they needed him. The court sentenced him to reduction of one rank and fined him $75.00.  The reviewing Headquarters reduced the fine to $25.00.   As the defender, I thought he was given an extreme amount of mercy.  I am sure that many on the jury also thought so but it was the same as a plea bargain.  I think that the CID did in fact conduct a sting and their little net caught a brand new soldier.
So, it is pretty clear that where you sit is a lot of the decision if you want to see Mercy of Justice.  
Oh, by the way, there is a Rapist that also killed my niece in Arkansas that most of the family wants to see Justice done to him.  Had he let her have a little mercy and lived after he raped her, I might feel different.  But in the world I live in Justice is what he needs a big old dose of.

No comments:

Post a Comment