Sgt. Osvaldo Hernandez of New York City has ended his second tour of Army duty in Afghanistan but is unable to become a police officer because he pleaded guilty 8 years ago to charge of illegally possessing a gun, which he had bought for self-defense, the New York Times reports. He has been supported in job quest by his commanding officers, by his parole board, by the Queens district attorney and by the judge who sentenced him but restored his civil rights two years ago. He was pardoned by Gov. David Paterson.
Because a city police officer must “never” have been convicted of a the felony, the city's position is that a pardon doesn't matter, that redemption doesn't matter, that a single mistake does indeed define a person, says Times columnist Clyde Haberman. “At the end of the day,” Hernandez said, “the question is: Do people really not change? Are you marked with the scarlet letter for the rest of your life? Is there no forgiving? Are you guilty for life?”