Sunday, August 01, 2010

Scarlet C Fades with CORI Reform

Well obscured in the artificially dramatic casinos-bill scuffles, yet another far-reaching and long-overdue reform emerged from the Deval Patrick tenure. The vicious, life-long branding of convicted criminals got its modulation in CORI reform.

For details on the Criminal Offender Records Information law passed in the late-night session yesterday, you can dig deep near the bottom here, get the background here, or read a real-people coverage here. What's news and what's right is that conviction records will be much more limited — to potential employers in particular — and the former offenders get a shot to be productive, tax paying, and all those other stereotypical American traits.

How odd that in a nation of alleged individuals, self-made citizens, low class distinctions, and no culture of deference, the reality for those convicted of crimes has been far too different from those ideals. Instead, like a country of scolds and martinets, far too many of us wish and would enforce perpetual punishment. That other ideal of paying one's debt to society somehow submerges under schadenfreude.

Enough with the nastiness that would permanently ruin the lives of those mistaken enough or sometimes unfortunate enough to earn a conviction! The prison, probation, fines, loss of job, and often more should have been plenty of punishment.

Let's get religious about it and think that nearly universal concept we often call the golden rule. I actually prefer the Talmudic expression of it — That which is hateful to you, do not do to another.

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