In ALG Blog

Photo: Ched Evans by Jon Candy (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The modern criminal justice system is based on the idea of finite punishment. Social reintegration is the natural follow up. But while this idea is popular in the abstract, concrete cases of post-conviction living often bring out the worst in people. In cases where the offender is a celebrity who serves his sentence and then returns to a life of glamour, fame or even simple happiness, complaints inevitably ensue. Some profess to worry that celebrity ex-cons will be poor role models; others that victims will be revictimized by their attacker’s prominence. But there is surely some envy at play as well: “why should this person who broke the law live a better life than me when I’ve followed the law?” people might ask. While there is some validity to these feelings, they should not be confused with a description of justice. The overriding purpose of sentencing is to rehabilitate offenders and facilitate their reintroduction into society as productive citizens, not to ruin offenders’ lives until a sufficiently large pound of flesh is extracted. Leah McLaren explores this issue in the Globe and Mail.

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