The crimes of a man should be forgiven if he contributes enough to society. There are plenty of people in our society who are contributing little to nothing to our quality of life; and if someone who has committed a crime wishes to repay the community by doing good deeds, they may be doing more for us than the average citizen is.
People make mistakes and sometimes do bad things. But, they can be truly sorry, and can make positive contributions to society. People should have the opportunity to be forgiven and to move on in a forward way. It makes no sense to judge a person's whole life on one bad action, if he does many more good ones later.
I personally think that in most cases, a man can benefit society enough to forgive his crimes. Part of rehabilitating a criminal is making them help those that they've hurt. By "paying back" society for extened periods of time I believe it should be enough to excuse crimes in most cases.
To think that every crime is unforgivable is not only short-sighted, but is in itself a destructive mind set. The one thing that the United States has failed to do in its criminal justice system is answer the question: What do we do with offenders after they have served their sentences and are released into the general population? In this area, we have failed miserably. We make no effort to determine what led to the criminal acts, nor educate the offender in ways to avoid similar situations in the future. We place such a stigma on being an "ex-felon", that often the choice is to remain unemployed, under-employed, or lie about prison and hope not to be caught. These are poor choices. In America, no matter how honorable and constructive a life an ex-felon lives, he/she never is always an ex-felon. Studies of the criminal justice system in America show that over 60% of "crimes" are committed by one-time offenders, and were committed under extraordinarily stressful situations that are unlikely to ever occur again. This dilemma is poignantly set forth in Les Miserables, with Jean Valjean as the reformed ex-felon, and Inspector Javert representing the unforgiving society.
People are capable of change with the right motivation. A man or woman who turns their life around, and makes legitimate and worthy contributions to society, deserves to be taken at face value for who they are now, and not who they were when they committed the crimes.
If a criminal is willing to put forth substantial effort to contribute back to society, as a means of gaining forgiveness, then this should be respected over the alternative of him serving his time in jail, and thus being a drain on the economy. An effort to give back to society shows a significant effort to be forgiven, and to grow as a person.
If you believe that spending time in jail is good enough in order to repay society, than we should also consider the contributions that someone makes to society as equal penance. Saying that you must spend time in prison to make up for what you have done is short-sighted and may cause us to miss out on something worthwhile. People should have to repent, but there should be multiple ways for them to do that.
If someone commits a non-violent crime and takes the punishment, they should be forgiven for the crime if they are able to be a positive influence on the community in which they live. If they contribute to society in a way that helps others, then people should offer their forgiveness to that person. If they can help make things better for those around them, why not let them do it.
I believe that a changed man can be a forgiven man and, therefore, shown leniency for crimes that he committed. But, it would be imperative to consider the crimes that he committed, and measure them against the contributions that he has made. For example, I can't even think of what a person could do with their life to avoid being punished for a rape and murder. But, there's plenty of things that come to mind when I think about the social contributions that one could make to turn around a conviction of theft.
Since people make as much of a conscious choice to do bad as they do to do good, I do not think that choosing to do good compensates for choosing to do bad. Hitler, for example, funded many progressive programs in Germany and was partly responsible for the success of the Volkswagen. That, obviously, does not make the Holocaust forgivable. In other words, crimes can never be undone, regardless of how much good the perpetrator performs, after the fact.
Once a crime has been committed, it can not be undone regardless of what a person does. A man's societal contribution can not make up for crimes committed. There are times when a wrong can just not be righted and when a crime happens, it is one of those times.
I think it is not important at all what someone pays to society, in terms of contributions, when it comes to forgetting or forgiving their crimes. Say that some child molester is a volunteer for his community. He donates food and clothing to homeless, paints the library, holds fundraisers, and is a community hero. But then he is found to have molested many children. I don't think he should be forgiven simply because he did so many great things. It's more important to look at the bad things he's capable of. What if he's dangerous? Who cares what good he's done? A person should always be good and not have to worry about being forgiven.
I don't care if you've done great things for society, if you've done something terrible, you are not justified. I suppose there is a bit of a sliding scale on this matter, as if its just minor crime, then I do think it can be forgivable. However, things such as rape, and murder, no way.
Man's positive contributions to society can't fully erase or gain forgiveness for his crimes, much in the same way that his crimes can't overshadow the good he has done. Anybody who agrees that one can obliterate the other is taking too much of an over-simplistic world view. The only way to deal with this position is to put the crimes in the past, but learn from them so that they are never repeated. A single person can be the most intelligent person in the world, but another could be the Antichrist, and large groups of people are comparatively stupid because of the mob mentality. It's impossible to pain the entire of society with such a large brush. The only thing that can be done is to move on and strive to do good things.
Regardless of ones crime I feel they should receive the same punishment as the average Joe. No one should be above the law and feel they can do as they please. Because they have an high powered position and they know they will get special treatment and probably not a real punishment. We all should be treated equal no man is better than another.
Anything that is criminal in nature cannot be forgiven at all. We can forgive mistakes but not a crime. Although looking at his good contribution in the society, it's possible to reduce his sentence but it won't be fair to the family of the victim if he is completely forgiven.
If it is the case then, everyone will commit a crime and then contribute to the society. A crime cannot ever be forgiven.
Nobody is above the law, no matter what that person has done. If a person is a great footballer for instance, it does not mean he can get away with murder. He has to be punished no matter what as all humans are created equal and are equal in the eyes of the law.
Courts send criminals to jail in hopes that, through societal contributions, they can redeem themselves. This is not an accurate view of forgiveness and redemption. Jesus Christ died on the cross so that all of us who are guilty of sin (everyone) will not have to be condemned, but can live, forgiven and redeemed! No societal contributions will take away a crime, only the blood of Jesus can wash that away.