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What Repentance Actually Looks Like

Sentencing in criminal cases often devolves into a wailing confession by the defendant about how sorry he is.  Some of our readers have seen this year after year.  My own experience is that the defendant is plenty sorry he got caught and that he and his lawyer couldn't bamboozle their way out of getting convicted, but that's about the extent of it.  If defendants had any actual misgivings about their behavior, they wouldn't have undertaken it to begin with.  (This is borne out by the sky-high recidivism rate  --  about two-thirds, if I'm not mistaken  --  showing that they're not sorry enough to refrain from going right back to doing it).

Maj. Nadal Hasan, the Ft. Hood terrorist and mass killer about whom I have written frequently, has a refreshingly different attitude.  He hasn't been convicted yet since, among other things, he persuaded the United States military to turn itself into a pretzel with three years of litigation about whether he had to shave his beard.  Hasan eventually bullied the government into allowing the beard.

The trial is now set to begin on August 6, assuming no more facial hair problems.  It seems likely that Hasan will be convicted, and (obviously) then sentenced, since there are oodles of evidence showing his guilt.  When sentencing rolls around, it seems likely that, for once, we're going to see an honest rendition of how "sorry" the defendant actually is.  This story notes that Hasan has given an interview in which, among many other delicious things, he starts off by apologizing for ever having signed up to be a member of the Great Satan's army:

"My complicity was on behalf of a government that openly acknowledges that it would hate for the law of Almighty Allah to be the supreme law of the land," the 42-year-old Army psychiatrist said. Hasan then apparently asked if this was a war on Islam. "You bet it is," he said. "I participated in it."

Ladies and gentlemen, in many ways this trial will be tragic and awful, but in some ways it's going to be a hoot.

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