I’m not much of a golfer and perhaps that is why I have always been enthralled by the golfing courtesy called the Mulligan. Taking a Mulligan following a terribly wayward shot is a tremendous blessing. It allows one to make needed adjustments and demonstrate that there is something better in you than what your playing pals have just witnessed. Of course as a Christian I view the Mulligan as a type of grace, a saving grace, that has a redeeming quality. Well, the sports world has recently witnessed a chance at redemption writ large in the career of Michael Vick. Vick, the phenomenally successful Atlanta Falcons quarterback was convicted of running an illegal and morally repugnant dog-fighting business and apparently participated in all the cruelty to animals and brutality associated with that hideous enterprise. Well, following his conviction and incarceration Michael Vick was extended the opportunity to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles and has been hugely successful in leading the Eagles into this year’s NFL playoffs. From incarcerated felon to indispensable play caller.
But, alas, the success of Michael Vick in exercising his second-chance Mulligan is far from typical. In fact, the entire Criminal Justice System (only one component of which is incarceration) and its lack of success in curtailing recidivism and returning offenders to productive lives, if not exciting pigskin plays, is dismal. How to maintain law and order, protect the public, punish offenders, and rehabilitate those who are salvageable is not a trivial problem. Michael Gerson addressed the issue in this op-ed which appeared in the Washington Post. I believe you’ll appreciate his insight on second chances.