"Neither of us wanted to back down," said Oshea Israel, as Laura Sullivan reports for National Public Radio. "And me being foolish enough to think that I held the most power just because I had a gun. He and I could have been best friends had we just taken the time to communicate."
Israel is referring to the time he killed a man, when he was only 16, and the U.S. Supreme Court is now deciding juvenile crimes cases like his involving life behind bars. The question is: Is it unconstitutional to impose a life sentence on a juvenile?
The issue has a corollary in other types of criminal cases, like drug cases, not just cases involving violent crime.
Although many drug cases do not involve life sentences, the sentences can still be pretty long, and one may argue that the cause of our overcrowded prisons comes at least in part from the sentences imposed on people who are convicted of relatively low-level drug possession and distribution crimes - a result of the nation's long-running War on Drugs.
As Sullivan writes, sometimes even victims' families are questioning harsh punishments, as in the case of Oshea Israel and his victim's mother, a reconciliation that began by "laying a foundation" together, getting to know one another in a two-hour conversation in a meeting that took place in prison.
"I felt like she just offered me her forgiveness," Israel said.
Perhaps it's time that we, as a nation, offer forgiveness on a wider scale.