A Metro Atlanta man was sentenced to 20 years, with 12 years to serve in prison and the rest on probation for the crime of stealing an iPod. 20 year old Shareef Tawwab Hakim was convicted of robbery and aggravated assault after he allegedly put a boy in a headlock and stole his iPod. The fact that Shareef was unarmed during the crime led some to ask if the heavy handed sentence was justified. Terry Shropshire, writer for The Chicago Defender asked one question pertaining to this case: does the punishment fit the crime?
As servant of Christ we can only answer these questions according to the understanding granted to us by the Holy Bible and the words of Jesus Christ. However, we are in no way condoning the acts of the wicked or this violent crime when we state that according to the scripture this punishment was not justified.
Exodus 22:22 If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. 2 If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. 3 If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. 4 If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double.
According to the Bible, if found guilty of theft Shareef would have been commanded to return what was stolen. Considering the condition of the item he may have been required to restore the cost of the item several times over. If unable to pay this debt he would have been forced to work his debt off. And while the practice of working off a debt may seen cruel or archaic we ask you to consider the alternative of 20yrs in prison which avails no one.
Some may argue that it was the violent nature of the crime that brought about the severity of the verdict. However the scriptures clearly address the nature of violent robberies as well which resulted in the same penalty of punishment through restoration.
Leviticus 6:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship,
or in a thing taken away by violence,
or hath deceived his neighbour; 3 Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein:4 Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, 5 Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering.
In this judgment the wisdom of God is manifested, the wicked are punished and the victim has his property restored to them. In today’s society the victim is rarely compensated for his loss and the criminal is sent away to prison with little to no chance of repentance or reconciliation. Whereas the righteous judgment of the Heavenly Father provides a lasting and just conclusion.