[PW] more on paying one's debt to societyh

cowan at ccil.org cowan at ccil.org
Mon Apr 27 09:58:16 PDT 2015

Mark Halpern scripsit:

> if what the criminal did was to incur a debt,  why
> may he not, by paying off that debt, regain all the rights and  privileges
> of a law-abiding citizen?

Do you still think this is absurd when the penalty is a fine?  If you pay
your (non-points-creating) traffic ticket, why *shouldn't* you regain all
the rights and privileges of a non-speeding citizen?

> (And a side issue: how does serving  time in
> prison pay his debt?)

What counts as satisfying a debt always depends on the will of the
creditor and of society.  If these are the same, so much the simpler.

> It seems to me that it's a very modern idea; I'd be surprised to  learn
> that it was older than the 19th century.

With respect to the punishment of imprisonment, it probably isn't, since
that was only put into serious practice in the late 18C.

John Cowan          http://www.ccil.org/~cowan        cowan at ccil.org
Man has no body distinct from his soul, for that called body is a portion
of the soul discerned by the five senses, the chief inlets of the soul
in this age.  --William Blake

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