Does Mark Wahlberg deserve to be pardoned?

Mark Wahlberg owes a debt

Mark Wahlberg pardon opinion
When Mark Wahlberg was 16, he randomly walked up two men on two separate occasions and assaulted them with a weapon – according to reports, in the second incident, he left Hoa Trinh permanently blind in one eye.

Wahlberg now wants a pardon from Massachusetts; a copy of his petition can be found here.

Essentially, he’s saying that he’s still being punished for his actions as a child and feels it’s time for the punishment to stop. In his petition, he feels he’s paid his debt to society.

And an article today tracked down Hoa Trinh who said that Mark Wahlberg did not, in fact, blind him.

In light of all this, let’s discuss the whole rationale for punishment. What’s the point of punishment in the first place?

There are essentially four reasons:


We want stop criminals from hurting other people. The idea is that a would-be criminal balances the opportunity-cost of what he’s about to do.

Would you assault another man purely because he’s a different race than you and – AFAYK – blind him knowing that you might spend your life in jail?

Arguably not.

Would you do it, knowing that you will go to jail for 45 days, get out, become a famous rapper selling your own brand of teeth grills, movie star, multi-millionaire?

Arguably so.

To pardon Mark Wahlberg would achieve precisely the opposite of what this theory aims to accomplish.

Under the theory of prevention, Mark Wahlberg should not be pardoned.


We want to stop criminals from hurting other people. The idea here is that if a criminal is in jail, or otherwise incapacitated, he has no means of hurting others.

Mark Wahlberg is now a multi-millionaire. At this point, it is doubtful he would assault anyone else, lest he risk losing everything in a lawsuit.

This theory of punishment is essentially inapplicable to Mark Wahlberg. He serves as no current danger to anyone.

Under the theory of protection, he should be pardoned.


We want criminals to “pay” for their crimes to society as a whole. Essentially, the theory is that if you hurt one of us, you hurt us all.

  • I am not Vietnamese. In that sense, Hoa Trinh is not my people. In that sense, Hoa Trinh is probably not one of your people.
  • I am Asian. In that sense, Hoa Trinh is my people. However, in that sense, Hoa Trinh is probably not one of your people.
  • I am an American. Hoa Trinh is an American. In that sense, Hoa Trinh is my people. Moreover, in that sense, Hoa Trinh is probably one of your people.

Mark Wahlberg spent 45 days in jail for assaulting two men for no reason. 45 days for blinding someone is too little punishment, but if Hoa Trinh was not actually blinded, then that is probably sufficient deterrent.

Under the theory of retribution, Mark Wahlberg should be pardoned.


We want criminals to “pay for their crimes to their victims. Essentially, we want the criminals to put the world back as it was before their actions.

If a criminal steals a dozen eggs, he should replace those dozen eggs.

Despite having access to monies and resources you and I could only dream of, Mark Wahlberg stated publicly that, while he knows the right thing to do would be to find Hoa Trinh and somehow try to make things right for the man again, he has not done so.

You have to go and ask for forgiveness and it wasn’t until I really started doing good and doing right by other people, as well as myself, that I really started to feel that guilt go away. So I don’t have a problem going to sleep at night. I feel good when I wake up in the morning.

While it is great for him that he feels good when he wakes up in the morning, as far as he was aware, Hoa Trinh was still blind due to his actions.

With that in mind, Mark Wahlberg made no attempt to make Hoa Trish whole again, and is uninterested in doing so. And why should he be? He sleeps soundly at night.

Under the theory of restoration, Mark Wahlberg should not be pardoned.

It seems pretty split down the middle. Except his request for a pardon is one essentially one based on one thing alone: because he deserves it.

This is not a basis for freedom from punishment. But he can tip the balance in his favor.

If Mark Wahlberg wants to be pardoned, he should meet up with Hoa Trinh – who has requested to meet him – and do something to make amends.

This would fulfill the Restoration theory.

Pay for Trinh’s kid’s college fund, pay off his mortgage, etc. Even if it’s just saying: “Holy crap, I was a stupid kid. I’m so sorry” it would go a long way here.

Otherwise, there’s a still an outstanding debt that Wahlberg owes Trinh.

Mark Wahlberg has to pay that debt.

Either by holding on to the stigma of what he did as a stupid kid or meeting up with Trinh as a man and asking for the debt to be forgiven.

But debts have to be paid, one way or the other. That’s the nature of a debt.

Location: staring at the Friday clock
Mood: offended
Music: searching for good times but just wait and see

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