It could be argued that “Joe Citizen’s” obligation to society is to abide by the peoples’ laws and pay taxes. And if he doesn’t detract in any way, like crime, this obligation is just fine. He’s doing his part. But occasionally there comes a point when he defaults on his obligations to society… he commits a crime. Now, tax burdens of all forms fall on his neighbors to establish justice and the public confidence becomes shaken by his inability to do what’s required of him as a citizen. He has to atone and make it right. And then…

With the end of criminality, with a firm future based in desistance, is it good enough to just say, “See? No more crime. I’m doing my part…”? I argue not. I feel that some level of community service should be a mandate to finalize the end of a sentence (and it should have an end, but that’s another argument). I feel that being able to identify the situations that led to crime and becoming an educator against them should be the new cross to bear. Of course, there are exceptions for those that have mental health obstacles that may prevent them from meaningfully contributing to community service after release, but then again, their criminality needs to be handled entirely differently than it is today.

When the social contract is broken, it’s the right of the community to request a renegotiation. And rightly so, within reason. But simply being law abiding and tax paying is the status of those absolved of a criminal status. To get there, those who have served a sentence have to put just a bit more in the cup of community life and honor their renegotiated social contracts…

by Rory Andes

When you take a bit too much, you have to give a bit more back…

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