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Past transgressions

 
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I may have posted something similar to this years ago, but I just read a comment that triggered a memory.  I worked in a heavily regulated field of service when a gentleman in his 40’s applied for a job.  The state barred his being hired because there was a felony on his record.

He had done  a full 5 years in prison.   For whatever reason, I researched his background.   He was convicted of breaking into a number of stores. This happened on the night of his high school graduation. Nothing was stolen.  When arrested, he was very drunk. His record was clean since prison….that was about 20 years of a clean record.  He was able to obtain a letter of support from his minister, his attorney, the prosecutor, and the owner of each store he had broken into. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I think he got a favorable letter from the local judge.  

I sent this information into the state, and they refused to clear him.  Maybe 7:00 on a Friday night I call the state office in the Capitol.  I am expecting an answering machine, instead the department head answers the phone. The department head takes the expected route. He is sorry, but he has to follow the regulation.  So, I asked him, “When you were 18, did you ever do anything that could have landed you in prison if you were caught.”  The phone goes silent. Then there is loud laughter.  

A couple of weeks later I received notification the regulation had been changed.


 
John F Dean
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It just struck me this might be a head scratcher for some. The break ins happened in a small county….during a heavily contested, very dirty, election for states attorney…with the kid having the wrong last name.  His real crimes were bad judgement and bad luck.
 
master steward
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There's an action for that: forgiveness

There's at least one major religion that includes the concept in a well used prayer - something like, "forgive us our trespasses..."

Not to mention that other not quite so old expression, "For every rule, there is an exception..."

Certainly, there are situations where rules are good and important, and there are others where flexibility is important. My son cannot legally drive our car for insurance reasons. The rule is really weird, because it's hooked to a technicality. His girlfriend can legally do so, except she can't drive a standard (although we should give that another go... )  However, if it's an emergency situation - for example he's driving someone to the hospital who needs critical care, a different rule will cover him within the same insurance system. The first rule was to prevent people from cheating the insurance system by letting high risk people drive a vehicle registered to a low risk owner/insurer. The second rule says that if someone's bleeding/dying, you get a pass!

Building flexibility into rules is hard - clear cut is much easier to write. But I think flexibility - all that "grey area" stuff - is the reality of dealing with humans, and is critical to developing a fair and just society.

I'm glad you went to bat for the fellow, John!
 
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I worked for many years (20+) as a juridical officer, I remember a gentleman at the office window one night, looking for his teenage son.  After asking a few questions, I found the juvenile and several others were caught (of all things) drinking Beer!  So I offered to walk him over to the police department, while we walked I told the father to please keep in mind that, his rules at home were indeed his rules, but to remember back to when he was 16, and that his son had not been placed under arrest, the kids were not hurt, were not driving, or in the hospital.  He stopped walking, his mouth fell open, then said that understood my point.

I turned him over to the duty officer at PD, and said one last thing to him, "Please explain to your son, that if he plans to drink while under age, DON't do it in public where he may be seen by an officer"

After that I had a nice quiet night on duty.


Peace
 
gardener
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Location: Cascades of Oregon
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I am so thankful that cell phone cameras did not exist in my late teens and early adulthood.
 
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Robert Ray wrote:I am so thankful that cell phone cameras did not exist in my late teens and early adulthood.


Haha!
Me too!!!
 
Deane Adams
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I'm thankful that I was never caught as a teen!!!

Peace
 
pollinator
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Location: West Linn Oregon, USA zone 8b
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Thank you John for making a difference in this person's life, but not just for him, it sounds like this helped the county relax their rules, which no doubt has made a difference for a lot of people.  I'm thankful that in my state, OR,, at least in the tri-county area here of Portland metro, there are things in place to make exceptions to certain charges from one's past if they've done well since then.
 
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