Last night my husband were watching an episode from the 8th season of the X-Files. Granted, this season is filled with mostly ho-hum episodes, most of which work to establish a relationship between Scully and Doggett. But there is one episode in this season which I think shines for a very simple reason: it deals with an ethical/moral question that most of us don’t even consider.
This episode, entitled Redrum, goes backwards in time and focuses on a prosecutor who is accused of violently murdering his wife. The true murderer, however, is a revenge-seeker – it seems the prosecutor convicted his brother on a “third strike” drug dealing charge by suppressing evidence that would have exonerated him. The prosecutor blithely states “well, he was dealing drugs anyway, right?” and the brother informs him that the boy had cleaned up his act, gotten a good job, and was leading a good life.
Obviously, we can’t ignore the fact that the lawyer has committed an immoral act by suppressing evidence, and to a smaller degree by making the assumption that it would be ok because surely, this two-time convicted drug dealer was still a drug dealer. People who commit crimes can’t change, right?
This is, of course, untrue. People who commit crimes change all the time. Yet there is a propensity amongst law abiding citizens to assume that criminals will forever and always be recidivists. I am guilty of this type of prejudice myself, and I make this mistake without even thinking about it. If I find out someone has committed a criminal act, I will view them differently, judge them. Had I been Athena, Orestes might have been cursed for all time.
All this was prompted by an article I read on CNN.com yesterday about a newborn baby who was taken from the hospital, and from the parents, because the father had pleaded guilty to rape and sodomy twenty years ago in
I understand the desire and need for the state to protect children. I find it quite necessary, and I am glad to know that in some places the system is keeping track and taking action when they think that a child may be in harm’s way. But this sort of preemptive strike seems a bit unfair. Twenty years is a long time. Not knowing the details of the prior conviction, I can’t be a proper judge of the matter. But it seems like it might have been better for the state to simply monitor the family rather than take the child away from it’s parents.
Realistically, if the state is going to take away a child born to a former sex offender, they should tell that sex offender that should he/she try to have children, the child will be taken away. If they are going to be this firm about it, why doesn’t the state remove the reproductive capabilities of the offender? Of course, the state can’t do either of these things, because it would be unconstitutional. But you would think taking the child away would be just as unconstitutional.
Again, I don't know all the details aside from what was stated in the article. But I hope America starts to be real careful about these types of things, before America stops looking like America.