Sunday, November 3, 2019

Lessons Learned From Injustice


In life, many face undeserved treatment for mistakes made by others.  Truth does shine on occasions after a great deal of suffering to the innocent party; others remain victims until death. An editorial and article in the Peace Weekly give us the story of Yun Vincent who was imprisoned for twenty years for a murder that recently a serial killer in prison for another murder, confessed.

The editorial mentions the lessons learned from this incident. Work done in correctional institutes is again attested to by the words of a man who suffered unjustly for 20 years. He entered the community of faith during the time in prison which enabled him to make it thru the twenty years.

He was imprisoned in 1989 with the sentence of life in prison. Many are the names of Catholics who were with him during those years that gave him strength and welcomed him into the community of faith. They listened to his complaints of injustice, helped him financially and when released found him a job.

The first lesson is to realize how important the ministry of correction is in the testimony of Mr. Yun, who was helped to live those years by his faith.

The other lesson is how often the legal system is not able to filter out poverty and ignorance of those they are to judge because of discrimination.

The second trial has yet to be conducted, the confession of the serial killer, the police investigation, and the testimony of Yun and the prison guard's testimony, clearly indicate that there was a big hole in our judicial system from 30 years ago. The question that can be asked is the ignorance, brutality of government power something of the past?

Support for prisoners, those released, and helping to prevent the punishment of the innocent victims are all part of the corrective ministry. This incident should reflect on whether the law is too harsh for the powerless and socially weak and whether on the other hand the powerful are indifferent and make light of the law.

Vincent Yun in a recent interview with reporters: "While in prison I thought often of a retrial but since I had no new evidence those close to me advised against it. God has entered the picture and I will have a new trial. If everything goes well I will try to live a life for others."

"While under examination they questioned me for four straight days without sleep so I confessed. I was afraid of the death penalty. I asked for another examination of the evidence but was refused. At that time a lawyer would have cost me 15.000 dollars, the money I  didn't have so they gave me a lawyer who only saw be three times in all and at the trial, he hoped that all would be done well."

It's easy to see how blind spots and prejudice were involved in this case. We let culture, personal habits and discrimination control our thoughts and behavior often to the harm of others. It is difficult to empathize with another,  walk in their shoes and open ourselves up to seeing what is before us and not only what is in our heads.

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