Law & Order episode on 5/11

Law & Order has had plots that can challenge various social conventions. Plots involving racism, gay marriage, nazis, abortion, etc. And the show is always quite interesting but sometimes carries a predictable bias towards political correctness.

The 5/11 episode had me wondering what the conclusion was going to entail.

The basic plot revolved around a 9 year old murder for which evidence was accidently discovered. The evidence led the police to a man who had been leading an exemplary life and was known within his community as a very moral Christian man. The man confessed that he did commit the murder 9 years prior before he became a Christian.

At this point, I mentally groaned. “Oh no. Now we’re going to see a man who is going to attempt to hide behind his Christianity to avoid punishment, or we’ll find out that he has actually been living some kind of double life, etc.” But the show didn’t go down those kinds of avenues. The character actually stood up for what was right, and owned up to the crime. He was willing to take the 30 year jail sentence that would come.

The plot turned when his church sought to have the case dismissed. Obviously, he was a very different man than the one who committed the crime. The defense lawyer sought a dismissal of the case based on the good conduct of her client and the argument that if jail is about rehabilitating people, it was unnecessary.

It raised an interesting point. What’s the purpose of jail in today’s society? Is it only about rehabilitation? I think a lot of Americans would think that is the primary function. Of course, it is also about getting criminals off the streets so that they can’t cause any more harm. Neither of these purposes applied to the character in the show.

But I think there is also a valid element in punishing crime. Regardless of whether or not a person can or will be rehabilitated, crime should be punished. And in the Law & Order plot, that was touched on. The prosecutor was making the argument that no religious conversion can bring with it a pass on murder. A person has accountability not only to God but also to the state.

I think the argument is valid. And in the plot of the show the judge agreed. The Christian man was going to be held over for trial.

The prosecutor then asked the defense attorney if the Christian man would be willing to put his faith where his mouth was. Would he plead guilty for the crime that he knew he had committed? Did they need to go to trial at all? The man did exactly that and went to prison for 30 years.

Finally. A decent portrayal of Christian morality. That’s exactly what should have happened.