If one is a regular reader of criminal sentencings in The Maui News, there is a recurring theme in some of them that is quite disturbing.
Many of the defendants in the most serious of crimes contend they made "poor" or "bad" decisions or "bad choices" that landed them in the courtroom.
That explanation begs questions: Is the repeated rape of an underage girl merely a "poor decision?" Is beating someone senseless a "bad choice?"
Or are these merely code words in the criminal justice system that really mean, "I don't have a conscience and have absolutely no moral judgment?"
Does one really have to make a conscious decision not to rape a little girl? Is pulverizing another human being just one of many equal choices that one makes in life?
You do not need a degree in psychology to realize that the correct answer to both of those last questions is a resounding "No!" The definition of sociopath includes "lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience." (Source: Dictionary.com.)
So, as these perpetrators step back and study their victims and coldly study the choices they made dealing with them, society should coldly study them and ask: "Can we impart a conscience to these criminals?"
In short, what is the proper sentence for someone who feels no empathy for his victims? Is there hope for rehabilitation?
In any event, we hope judges are not buying this "poor decision" defense when they consider sentences. Society has to be protected from people with no consciences.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.