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

Solomons1pal at aol.com Solomons1pal at aol.com
Mon Apr 27 10:30:39 PDT 2015

Answers to various questions:
In a message dated 4/27/15 9:58:23 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,  
cowan at ccil.org writes:

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  
> 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?
No, it's not absurd for a monetary payment to satisfy  society in such 
cases, but I'm talking about serious crimes; felonies and crimes of violence  in 
particular.  I assumed that readers would understand this, but I  should 
have made it explicit.

> (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.
I think that in the case of the crimes I'm talking  about, we do not, and 
should not, regard the serving of a prison sentence as the  discharge of a 
debt, nor regard it as restoring the criminal's civic virginity.

> 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.
What I suppose is quite modern is regarding a released  felon as one who is 
to be accepted as a regular citizen, with all  the rights and  privileges 
of one.

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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