Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?
The New York Times – The Jan. 6 issue of The Times Magazine features an intriguing story from Tallahassee, FL, about parents Kate and Andy Grosmaire whose deeply held religious faith led them to forgive the man who murdered their 19-year-old daughter in March 2010. The killer was no stranger to the Grosmaires; he was their daughter’s boyfriend, Conor McBride, who shot Ann Margaret Grosmaire in the head after the two had been arguing for hours.
This story, however, goes beyond a heinous crime, a repentant lawbreaker and a typical punishment. While first degree murder in Florida usually carries a mandatory life sentence or, potentially, the death penalty, the Grosmaires sought to have Conor’s sentence reduced through a a concept called “restorative justice” which considers harm done and strives for agreement from all concerned–the victims, the offender and the community–on making amends. Partly as a result of that process, Conor was sentenced to 20 years in prison plus 10 years of probation instead of receiving a life sentence or the death penalty.
Read the full story and consider for yourself the challenging questions presented by “Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?”