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Crime vs. Sin
A criminal justice agency, specifically the police department relies very heavily on its organization to fulfill its duties to society, which is to protect from crime and to serve justice (Kenney & McNamara, 1999). The justice which is to be served depends on the severity of the offense or crime. Crime is quite a complex subject which can be divided into two different categories: natural crime and legal crime. Only legal crime can be processed/punished by the Criminal Justice System. These are acts which are the direct violation of the law which varies from state to state and country to country (Finnis, 2007). This is known as Mala prohibita, or something which is known as a legal crime which is punishable by the law (Vila & Morris, 1999). Natural crime is something which is not written; it is determined by the society you live in and most of the time it depends on your culture, environment, belief systems and morals -- it is something which is understood as unacceptable in society. Mala in se is what a person "should" know to do and not to do; this is something which is innate in a person (Davis, 2006).
There are crimes which fall under both natural and legal crimes. According to the law, as well as the perceptions of society an example is murder. People consider murder to be a natural crime because it is taking something which does not belong to you; or in theological perspectives, it is committing a sin against God or the gods. Legally, this is a crime and it is punishable by law; in most criminal justice systems it is punishable by death -- which is considered not a crime legally, yet some may argue that it is still a sin. A crime which is considered both legal and natural is rape (Jonathon, 2010). This is an act which can be punishable by law and is also considered a sin. Rape is something which is universally wrong; no matter what society you enter, people know that it is something unacceptable. Adultery, however is an act which is considered a moral sin, yet it is something not punishable by law. Legally, there is nothing wrong with this when both parties are in consent. However, it is a moral sin against your spouse (Jonathon, 2010). This cannot be punishable by law.
A great example which can differentiate crime and sin is the story of Martin Luther King Junior. King was arrested for committing the non-violent legal crime of protesting. This act is considered illegal and therefore categorized as a crime of this physical world (Conlon, B., Harris, S., Nagel, J., Hillman, M., & Hanson, 2008). However, what King did was not a sin; it was in fact something which was opposing wrong-doing, and calling for justice and unity between people. This is illustrated in one of King's well-known letters.
The Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. -- an American Civil Rights Leader - is an open letter which was written during 1963. King wrote the letter while he was confined in Birmingham City Jail in Alabama after being arrested for his part in a non-violent protest which was conducted by the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. King's letter was a response to a statement entitled A Call For Unity. This was in agreement that there are social injustices which the public needed to be aware of, and there was an ongoing battle against racial segregation which should be a matter of the courts, not the streets. King's response to this was through non-violence, yet with forceful and direct actions. Martin Luther King's letter is seen written during his time in jail for public obedience of being part of a protest; however this protest was of good intentions, his aim was to create peace, unity and equality. This coincides with Mahatma Gandhi's philosophies on nonviolence. He believed that there was a need for people to seek truth and nonviolence and it is a fundamental tent in life. This includes resisting injustice, selflessness and sacrifice, emphasizing responsibilities rather than rights, as well as self-discipline; these are all seen in King's Letter from Birmingham Jail (Murphy). Martin Luther King's letter shows integrity, being a piece not for himself but for the public in which he sought out a good future for. The genre of literature is more captivating in Martin Luther King's letter, being a public letter; it had more impact on people in his fight using non-violence. Even though King was treated unfairly and unjustly, he still kept his calm and approached the manner in a non-violent way.
"While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas" (qtd. King). This line shows the reality in his situation, and it directly speaks to the public, making the letter written specifically for viewing. It emphasized that he is directly speaking to the public, and that he is longsuffering for them; which in theology is considered a good or a right thing to do -- thus the opposite of sin. This creates more impact on the readers, when they feel that a piece of writing is specifically written for them, and is directed at them. Martin Luther King is seen to be suffering because of racial discrimination, being a minority, and not fully receiving rights which are freely given to others. Here, King is seen to take on his responsibilities over his own self-interest. Because he saw the needs of others, he put them first before his own needs. Indeed, he was punished for violating the law, yet the purpose of his action was not to cause anyone distress or to hurt anyone in any way; it was the complete opposite.
"It's ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts" (qtd. King). This line by King shows that he indeed suffered from discrimination, and that what he is fighting for. Fighting for injustice is something which the Criminal Justice System aims to do, yet what King was doing was not something which was written by the law; it was more for divine justice. He saw that there was a need for awareness when it came to the unjust treatments African-Americans were facing in the courts, and this was part of his mission; to raise awareness within the public, but he does this in a peaceful manner. King saw injustice, and he resisted against it in a nonviolent way, just as peace-promoters such as Mahatma Gandhi had said is important (Kazdin & Kendall, 1998). Martin Luther King was aware that he was in jail because he was involved in a non-violent protest which caused a disturbance to the public; something which is punishable by the law.
"I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights" (qtd. King).
King knew why he was there, yet he did not state that it was right. He believed that he was there because of injustice, yet he was not complaining nor condemning anyone; this is seen as selflessness and sacrifice. He did not fight the Criminal Justice System, nor did he say that it was wrong for them to imprison them; he was aware that he broke the law. He also did not let this shake his faith and he still pushed through with keeping his eyes forward, concentrating on his overall objectives. Martin Luther King showed greater and more passionate motive for the crime he had committed. King sought out to create peace and justice for the African-American community; he believed that it was in everyone's right to receive equality.
"But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here" (qtd. King). King strongly believed that there was an ongoing injustice in the system which needed to be corrected. This motive was powerful enough to let him continue his faith and good hopes that this injustice will be someday corrected. Again, King is seen to focus on the injustice and resist it. Martin Luther King was seen to defy man's law and participated in something which was considered to be delinquent, even in its non-violent form (Kazdin & Kendall, 1998). King knew that beyond the law of man, God had different plans for him. He compared himself to the works of the apostle Paul who was also sent to jail for acts which were seen as violating the laws of man.
"Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages…[continue]
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