Forgiveness and reconciliation can occur among all groups in society. Imprisoned individuals are among the persons that benefit the most from forgiveness and reconciliation in society. Incarcerated persons usually have a problem integrating with society since most of their victims still hold some grudge against them. Even in cases where victims may have forgiven the offender, they are always unwilling to reconcile their grievances, which affects the social wellbeing of the community, the victim, and the offender. As a result, in a tough-on-crime society, policies advocating for forgiveness may be unpopular and politically inappropriate. Accordingly, enhancing forgiveness and reconciliation of incarcerated persons can reduce the level of bitterness towards offenders and enhance unity and social development in a community.
Forgiveness is a complicated process that entails both intrapersonal and interpersonal reconciliation between a victim and an offender. Usually, forgiveness acts as the first step towards reconciliation (Lacey & Pickard, 2015). Forgiveness is instrumental in motivating reparative behaviors and enabling a person to avoid directing resources towards negative emotions, aggression, and cost-inflicting behaviors. The victim’s actions regarding reparative behaviors take three forms. First, the victim can express to the exploiter the damage and loss that he/she has suffered because of their exploitation. Second, the forgiver gets a chance to express the possibility of establishing mutual relationships in the future if the offender commits to refrain from future exploitation. Third, the forgiver has the opportunity to remind the offender of the mutual benefits of past friendly engagements. In this regard, forgiveness can play an essential role in protecting individuals against the risk of future exploitation. It can also enhance the possibility of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between the offender and the forgiver.
As a risk deterrent, forgiveness aims to foster the intrinsic desire to end hostilities between the offender and the forgiver by making the former recognize the damage they caused their victim. It also aims at making the offender value his/her victim. Accordingly, forgiveness aims to establish genuine conciliatory, which can be beneficial for victims and individuals who have been incarcerated. The only challenge in forgiveness is if the exploiter deceives the forgiver, making the latter more vulnerable in the future.
Through reconciliation, the victims establish the fractured relationships that they had with their offenders. This step is essential in enabling disenfranchised formerly incarcerated persons to integrate into society. A conventional method of facilitating reconciliation between offenders and victims is restorative justice (Clark, 2008). This form of justice aims at compensating victims and making the criminal pay for their wrongdoing. Importantly, this justice system plays a vital role in restoring the offender’s status in society. Among disenfranchised incarcerated persons, the societies’ understanding of the price they have paid for their crime can play a significant role in enabling the offender to integrate into society.
Although victims of crimes may disagree among themselves and the community on whether forgiving and reconciling is appropriate, it is commonly agreed that this is the best means of embracing past law offenders. However, in a tough-on-crime society, policies advocating for forgiveness, mercy, and reconciliation are usually perceived as too soft and inappropriate (Stephanos, 2007). Among various ways that society can enhance the rate of reconciliation is by the offender apologizing, compensating for the damage or loss, and serving in community service. Importantly, these actions can motivate his/her victim to forgive and reconcile with him/her.
Clark, J. (2008). The three Rs: Retributive justice, restorative justice, and reconciliation. Contemporary Justice Review, 11(4), 331-350. https://doi.org/10.1080/10282580802482603
Lacey, N., & Pickard, H. (2015). To blame or to forgive? Reconciling punishment and forgiveness in criminal justice. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 35(4), 666-696. https://doi.org/10.1093/ojls/gqv012
Stephanos, B. (2007). Forgiveness and criminal procedure. http://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/faculty_scholarship/920