I often feel that three skills are missing with most folks I find entangled in the legal system: (1) An inability to anticipate the consequences of actions. They seem truly confused to be held accountable for breaking laws, injuring people, destroying property and are genuinely confused about how they got where they are. Admittedly too many have grown up with little "rearing" or genuinely caring, or honorable adults to help them, but however it comes about it is an invitation to disaster.
(2) They have serious limits on their ability to control their impulses. If they have a stupid thought it gets implemented with no pause for clarity or caution and too often this is viewed as a good thing, meaning they are not afraid. Of course, that is the exact opposite of the truth, since if they were truly without fear they would not fear stopping to count the cost, to themselves, to those they love and to their community.
(3) They often have a hard time accepting responsibility for their own actions. Part of this is a lack of instruction in the community's values. Everyone was horrified when a young girl was murdered by wild gunfire at a convenience store where she had gone with her dad to buy candy. The look of absolute destruction on one of the shooter's grandfather's face was painful to see, every bit as horrid as the face of the child's family members, except the victims family was not washed in shame. The shooter has a dozen reasons why they "Didn't mean it." And wow many times will we asked, "How could they?" Most frightening is this: if these young people can not accept responsibility for their actions, how can they ever seek redemption?
In the end those seeking a short-cut to success, wealth, respect, whatever find themselves in an infinitely harder place for themselves and great pain for those they love and who love them. And for some of us watching, the biggest surprise is how long some folks can keep cutting corners, cheating, stealing, lying and intimidating before the inevitable happens: death or incarceration.
All powerful and merciful God, have mercy on us. AMEN