Few things are unforgiveable. Aside from that short list which shall not be put to words, because either it is universal or personal, few things take away the individual’s right to a second chance. People make mistakes; some of them are minor like dropping a glass, and some of them are major like committing homicide. Every mistake has consequences. The glass dropper may cut his or her foot. The murderer may spend 25 years in prison. Each of them deserves a second chance. What truly matters is realizing the mistake, learning from it, and knowing you will never make it again.
However, some things truly are unforgiveable. Plus, some people never learn from their mistakes, whether they’re given a second, third, or fiftieth chance. All we can do is look at some evidence, but we can also look inside our hearts. Second chances are given, after all, not taken, and so the decision lies with you.
Learning from our Mistakes
John Dewey, an American philosopher important in education reform, said, “Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.” This can be proven in the case of human infants. As they get older, they try multiple things on their own, such as drinking, eating, and using the bathroom. Mistakes are made along the way, but once it is done correctly, that is how it is done and it is never done any other way.
Once we are older and mature, mistakes happen still, but it is up to us to learn from them. Mistakes have an infinite range of impact, from something as simple and harmless as working on your lay-up skills to something as complicated and egregious as rehabilitating your way out of being a murderer. Mistakes also have an infinite range of possibility. Learning from them cannot be taught. We must realize what the mistake was and render it when repeating whatever we were doing in the future.
What about those who will never learn?
Unfortunately for society, there are a large number of people who make criminal mistakes and can’t seem to stop making them. The Bureau of Justice published a report in 2014 about the rate at which released prisoners commit a crime and go back to prison, called recidivism. The results are astonishing. Over two-thirds of prisoners released between 2005 and 2010 were arrested for a new crime within three years. The amount jumps to over three-quarters for within five years. This means for every 4 prisoners released, 3 go back to jail.
It would be nice to say the crimes they go back for are petty and victimless, but this is not true. Actually, recidivism rates are high for almost every type of crime. Property offenders have the highest recidivism rate, followed by drug offenders, and then public order offenders, and lastly violent offenders. However, even violent offenders return to prison at a rate of 71.3%.
People still deserve a second chance.
The bottom line is that everyone deserves a second chance. Perhaps the circumstances surrounding these chances need to change, in order to protect the public, but mistakes are meant to be learned from. We therefore need a chance to prove that we have learned.
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