On any given day I am apt to fall on this or that side of the equation in life as it relates to forgiveness but this is the best discussion of it I have ever seen in 15 years of walking in and out of prisons 3 to 6 days a week and 70 years of life. The best summary is: The Grosmaires said they didn’t forgive Conor for his sake but for their own. “Everything I feel, I can feel because we forgave Conor,” Kate said. “Because we could forgive, people can say her name. People can think about my daughter, and they don’t have to think, Oh, the murdered girl. I think that when people can’t forgive, they’re stuck. All they can feel is the emotion surrounding that moment. I can be sad, but I don’t have to stay stuck in that moment where this awful thing happened. Because if I do, I may never come out of it. Forgiveness for me was self-preservation.”
There is a second part to this equation. Over the years, I have known many male and female kids that have never gotten to the starting blocks of life and who in moments of rage unchecked by self restraints that are a part of normal upbringing commit acts that no normal person would do end up in prison. This is a life sentence where the only exit from prison is a passport in the form of a toe tag.
I think the saddest part of the equation of forgiveness in prisons is that these kids will find in prison what they did not find in life. A lifer that will raise them to maturity and give them everything they never got at home if they are lucky.
Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?