No. 269

One day last week while driving down the highway, a car passed me that had one of those “partitions” between the front seat and the back seat. In addition to the driver, a quick glance revealed a lone passenger in the back seat and I knew instantly that this person was a prisoner being transported from one location to another. This is a scene that takes place in our country thousands and thousands of times each year. Inmates are moved back and forth from one jail or prison to another, along with trips to court or other destinations that are deemed necessary.
I don’t have to tell you that the Criminal Justice System in this country is big business. By the grace of God it’s one that I have never been a part of and I pray that it will continue to be that way. I never want to do anything against an individual or society that would even cause a court appearance, much less land me behind bars. There are times however, when innocent people get caught up in the system and they never thought they would be there either.
These thoughts came to mind when I began to dwell on what I wanted to share with you during this visit. At the very core of human nature is something we call “justice.” When we are physically attacked, defrauded or hurt in some other way, we want the guilty party or parties to pay for it. The major corporations of Ford & Firestone know all about the cry for justice and rightfully so. While this is just an aside as a principle, it’s better to take your medicine and suffer a loss in the beginning than to try to cover it up until it becomes an out and out catastrophe.
This reminds me of something that was said by the English author Daniel Defoe, “Justice is always violent to the offending party, for every man is innocent in his own eyes.” Let me say here that I believe in total forgiveness by the person who has been wronged, because of the healing effects of body, mind and spirit. I also believe in “justice” because it is a “deterrent” to others who think they can act totally irresponsibly and get away with it.
The real reason for bringing you to this point is that I want to talk about the “undeserving” victims of a crime. These are the people who are not guilty and have done nothing wrong, but yet they are made guilty by association. Like all communities across the country, from time to time we have ‘high profile’ cases in our court system. When we do, the television news cameras are always there, and rightfully so, because this is their job. But one of the saddest things for me is to see a man charged with a crime, like the sex scandal case we had recently, and the television cameras are rolling as he walks down the street and walking beside him is his dutiful wife who had absolutely nothing to do with it.
You see, she can’t go anywhere without people she knows thinking, “that poor soul” who is married to that man. While it’s not a physical torment, it’s a mental and emotional torment that will be there for a long time to come. While no one has a gun on me to make me say this, that is why Jesus came. To offer forgiveness to those who will confess their sin, repent and go the other way.
In the vast majority of cases, every inmate in our Criminal Justice System has a father & mother, some brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins. In many cases the parents are responsible to some degree for what they did or did not do in rearing a child who became a criminal. But the others are innocent, but while undeserving, they are made guilty by association. This should motivate all of us to be better people. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)