No Bail and God's Law

In Jesus’ and Old Testament times, the law was clear. If a person took something, then they not only needed to return the item, but also make restitution to the tune of four or five times the value of the object stolen. For example, Exodus 22 notes that if someone steals an ox, then restitution is five oxen.

Jesus seems in favor of applying this law should any of his followers steal an ox. However, it appears that if any of his followers has an ox stolen from him, then that follower should forgive the debt.

Today, bail has become an issue. Should bail be charged when a crime is committed. Or, should bail be forgiven? As a society, what do think we should do?

Bail is not restitution. That is not the purpose it serves.

There are legal remedies that include restitution, in both the civil and criminal contexts. But bail is meant to ensure that people show up to court - not as a punishment, which is particularly relevant since bail is imposed before the accused is found guilty.

Bail is merely a surety given to ensure someone appears at trial, not a punishment.

Perhaps you refer to fines assessed as part of a criminal sentence and/or restitution ordered as part of a criminal sentence.

Bail isn’t something charged when a crime is committed.

Everyone (I thought) understands this. It insures that a person shows up to pay the price of any crime. Yet, is forgiving this first step reasonable? Or, should they pay a commensurate price for the crime for which they are being charged?

new bail laws? limited to oxen or are there other ways to buck the system?

There is a significant dichotomy between the first part of your post, and the last.

Bail reform isn’t about forgiveness, just as bail has nothing to do with paying a price for a crime.

Remember, there is more than one definition for ‘forgiveness’.

Perhaps it would be best to change the wording to should we, as a society, be tougher or easier on those who commit crimes/infractions?

Bail is imposed long before any determination of guilt.

Obviously. I think we all learned that in Kindergarten.

This is a religion forum thread, and I am trying to focus on forgiveness or leniency versus a stronger retribution. It is an interesting dichotomy. Today, particularly in New York and California, there has been a strong push for no bail, and also the push to reduce what used to be felonies to simple misdemeanors. There is very little punishment for some crimes now (compare that to the offender being obligated to pay five times the amount taken). On the other hand, Christ did teach his followers to forgive debts and offenses.

Should this be kept on an individual level, or should society/government as a whole become lenient (forgiving) towards offenders.

I understand your premise. I’m just saying bail reform is not a good example.

As a whole.

I have ALWAYS thought that justice should be tempered with mercy. My belief thus is not drawn from a religious viewpoint, though various religious figures through history have shared that view.

That viewpoint encompasses ALL aspects of punishment, including prison, fines and restitution, but forgiveness of restitution should solely be the victims prerogative.

It would be interesting to know what our system actually is. Things have definitely changed since Old Testament times!

What I find interesting is that the Old Testament was not simply “An eye for an eye”–i.e., an ox for an ox, but commanded restitution for what today we might call ‘pain and suffering’.

Along comes Jesus whose position seems to be, if you were the one imposed upon, forgive; if you were the one doing the imposing, pay the full price.

I see how that works between individuals, but can that also work within community/society?

:slight_smile: Perhaps not, but it is still an example of how we apply a price for a person to go free after being charged with a crime, rather than forgiving/eliminating the penalty (or whatever other term works better).

Interesting article at the National Review that is relevant to this topic. It was written in the aftermath of Tennessee’s execution yesterday of Nicholas Sutton and the concerns the topic of mercy.

I agree when restitution is solely between individuals. However, what if the crime was against a larger segment of society? A simple example might be vandalism or destruction (even arson) of a public building or park.

First off, why should we care about Gods law from the Old Testament?

That’s a good question. Perhaps bail should be set according to ones ability to pay?

Your Old Testament examples are unrelated to bail. The OT stuff is restitution. Bail has nothing to do with restitution but insurance.

I would have liked clemency in a case such as this. The reason I am against the death penalty these days is quite practical–it is actually less expensive to keep an inmate in prison than to execute him. One thing I am very thankful for is his redemption. With so much to regret, I am glad he also had reason to be proud and gain respect for himself.

This is probably the poster child case were commuting a death sentence would have been warranted.

Unfortunately, the Governor probably looked on granting such a commutation as political suicide.

Mercy shouldn’t be a political issue in this situation, but realistically it is.