Cold case files?

I am seeing more old murder cases dragged out of the cold case file, and dudes charged for murder for a killing 20>30 years ago. Now they even have a TV show based on this.

I am a bit concerned about whether or not this is right . Not legal mind you, I don’t care about the “statute of limitations” for this, that’s not my point.

Let us take a case, similar to one that happened out here. 20 years ago, there was apparently a murder in a fit of passion/anger. Both the suspect and the victim was under 20 at the time. From what I know the suspect has commited no crime since, certainly no violent crimes like this. So let’s take this as our “ferinstance”. A young man, say 19, kills a freind in a fit of anger. Somehow the crime is concealed, and the killer repents, and suffers guilt for 20 years. Then later, new scientific techiques of DNA evidence are introduced, and they now find enough evidence that the killer can be arrested.

But why?

This bring out the idea of what the purpose of imprisonment is. is it for punishment? Revenge? Rehabilitation? Making sure that the criminal does not repeat? I have always thought it should be the last two- rehabilitation, and keeping the criminal from more crimes. In our sample case- we have kept the criminal from repeating, and we have had rehabilitation. Why pursue him?

Upholding the standards of the community. Holding everyone to the same standards. Justice for all. That sort of thing.

Some people believe the purpose of prison is to punish. So in your sample case, he should be pursued to be punished for his crime.

What do you think the murdered person’s family would tell you was right? That the murderer has gotten away with it for so long that he should be able to keep getting away with it forever? I doubt it. We pursue murderers to affirm to each other that we provide justice for all. The victim is crying out from the grave. That sort of thing.

Asking for revenge rather than rehabilitation is less chivalrous, but more in tune with what society see’s as a fitting response to crime.

Revenge and attonement is completely acceptable within the framework of justice. There are stakeholders that all have to interests and the proper punishment must be fair to all. It is fair that society wants assurances this individual will not repeat his offense (rehabilitation). It is fair that the victim or his family will want him punished - incarcerated or even put to death (revenge). It is fair to the offender to be punished in proportion to the serverity of the crime (justice). It is also reasonable to me that one who is genuinely sorry for their crimes should not be punished to the same extent as one who shows no emotion (attonement). This last point ties into rehabilitation imho as regret appears to me to be a form of rehabilitation, at the very least a prerequisite of it.

Taking this oversimplification into account, we can see the situation in the OP, may satisfy one stakeholder (society), but leaves another unsatisfied.

Let’s also not forget, if you are genuinely sorry for your crime, you will spend the years after you are released from prison feeling guilty - so the argument that the offender spend 20 years of time feeling guilty cancels itself out.