Monday, April 20, 2015


We were recently shocked to learn that Aaron Hernandez, the football celebrity, would be receiving life imprisonment without possibility of parole after a conviction on a murder charge.

In addition to his personal freedom, Hernandez sacrificed millions in contracts, endorsements and salaries.

How could a guy that, literally, had it all, throw it away for a stupid angry act?

Indeed, this sort of stupidity seems epidemic in our country. We have about 4.4% of the world's population, and 22% of the world's prison population, giving us the highest incarceration rate in the world.

How is it that our country, whose citizens enjoy freedoms unprecedented in world history, can find themselves so often incarcerated. Are our laws out of control? Do we punish far too many people? Do we create a system of recividism?

Maybe, but I think this speaks more to our foundational framework than it does to our justice system. Our framework does give us freedom to do, quite literally, nearly anything we want to. It is designed to let us get away with whatever our own moral compass does not forbid. And, the justice sytem is there to pick up the pieces when human nature takes over and a person's moral compass lets them delve into areas of behavior that society has decided are detrimental to us all.

In short, our system is designed so that the vast majority would follow the dictates of decency, while the laws were designed to bring consequences to those that exploited their freedoms.

But, with more and more people losing an understanding and a sense of morality, more and more are in need of the correction that the law brings. Without an understanding of right and wrong, the real freedoms we have can lead someone to start to think they can do whatever they want without consequence.

Therefore, I think someone who "has it all" might find it even easier than those of us that don't to think they really can do whatever they want and do it without consequence. After all, they've been able to do whatever they want before. Why wouldn't they be able to keep doing whatever they want?

There seems to be a fine line between the freedom to do whatever we want and the consequence of a life in prison.