To harm is human, to forgive is divine

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Ming C. Huang is the director of the Prison Fellowship in Taiwan. The prison fellowship gives counselling to various prisoners. They also look after victims and their families and try to fully reintegrate them into society . Of particular interest is that they give counselling to those on death row. This gives Ming a rare insight into prisoners that others may have completely given up on and provides a more accurate understanding of the individual issues and mindsets of each prisoner.

Ming emphasized that there are two types of murder case. Some are planned, some are 'murders of passion'. Momentary or temporary lapses of control, due to despair or uncontrollable rage, between girlfriend and boyfriend, husband and wife, and so on. Unlike repeat offence criminals such as burglaries and drug offenders, these type of one off rage murders, have very low reoffending rates. The point being these cases are often gigantic errors, with horrible consequences, but not based on evil intentions. Furthermore, people who commit any crime are less likely to reoffend the better their education is. The reoffending rate for released inmates with Master's degrees is close to zero, degrees 6% and diplomas 14%. Thus the education and the type of crime affect your likelihood to reoffend. Education can train your patience, it can form your moral character.

The Chen Chin-hsing case

Of the 300 death row inmates that Ming has given guidance too, a particularly notable offender was the infamous Chen Chin-hsing, executed for the murder of actress Pai Ping-ping's daughter, amongst others.  Having spent much time with talking with Chen Chin-hsing, Ming gained much perspective on the case for which he gave us some insights:

The case had aroused the anger of the population, with people left, right and centre calling for his death. Even the people inside the prison were full of hatred for him, due to his suicide attempts and the resulting problems for other prisoners (lockdowns etc). However, Ming found that Chen Chin-hsing was able to change, because he was moved by certain actions and compassion towards him by his former hostages, the South African military attaché McGill Alexander and his family.

First, was the compassion during the hostage situation; the whole of Alexander's family had all began to pray as they were tied up and scared, with the police surrounding the house and firing messy stray shots.  Two of the hostages had already been injured by reflections. Chen Chin-hsing was waiting for the police to enter with a gun under his chin, ready to shoot himself. One of the official’s relatives shouted at him not to kill himself, to think about his wife and family. Chen Chin-hsing was moved and confused by this. He thought surely they should want me to shoot myself and let it all to be over. Yet, they were telling him not to take his own life. Second, was the 12 year old daughter in the hostage family, Christine. Whilst Chen Chin-hsing was on the phone, Christine drew a picture of a cross, encircled with a heart and the words ‘I Love God’ along the middle cross section. She then gave the picture to Chen Chin-hsing. He wondered why Christine was not scared of him, his heart jumped, he was shocked by her bravery and how she wanted to help him. Third, after all they had been put through, the official’s wife showed forgiveness by going to hug him and let him know that if he changed his ways, God would accept and take him in.

Finally, before the Alexander family returned home, they were given permission to visit Chen Chin-hsing in prison. With them they brought a bible. Despite the judge telling them not to bother, that there was no point in giving him the bible since this sort of criminal wouldn’t read it. The Alexanders nonetheless they gave him a red bible, which is now with Ming at the Prison Fellowship’s office. All the way up until the very day he was executed, he was still in the process of reading this holy book. The final passage he reached was Psalm 27, where underneath he wrote the date 1999.10.6 evening - the night of his execution.  He had made marks on passages 1-8 and 12-14 (see photo). Ming intends to give this bible to Chen Chin-hsing’s son when he becomes 18 years old. The compassion and love showed by his former hostages moved Chen Chin-hsing and helped him to fully understand his remorse.

huangmushi_bible

(Photos: Marie Delaplanche)

Psalm 27, by David:

1 A psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation-- so why should I be afraid? The LORD protects me from danger-- so why should I tremble?

2 When evil people come to destroy me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.

3 Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will know no fear. Even if they attack me, I remain confident.

4 The one thing I ask of the LORD-- the thing I seek most-- is to live in thehouse of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD's perfections and meditating in his Temple.

5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in hissanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.

6 Then I will hold my head high, above my enemies who surround me. At hisTabernacle I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the LORD with music.

7 Listen to my pleading, O LORD. Be merciful and answer me!

8 My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me." And my heart responds, "LORD, I am coming."

9 Do not hide yourself from me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper. Don't leave me now; don't abandon me, O God of mysalvation!

10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.

11 Teach me how to live, O LORD. Lead me along the path of honesty, for my enemies are waiting for me to fall.

12 Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I've never done and breathe out violence against me.

13 Yet I am confident that I will see the LORD's goodness while I am here in the land of the living.

14 Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.

(source of Psalm 27 translation: Biblica)

Last modified on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 17:34
Nick Coulson (聶克)

I was born in sunny Torbay on the south western coast of England's green and pleasant lands. I'm prowling the streets, parks and ruins of Taiwan hunting for absurdities and studying the sociology of the underground. Furthermore with our nomadic arts and action space "The Hole" we attempt to challenge rigid and alienating structures.

出生於英國西南部,海邊的天堂為Torbay。目前在台灣的街上,公園,廢墟尋找世界之荒謬與世界之美,努力盡量在各方面跳脫框框。透過我們的游牧空間「洞」我們不斷地用藝術與行動來挑戰早已僵化的體制。

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