General Question

gooch's avatar

Would you rather see a guilty man go free or an innocent man go to prision?

Asked by gooch (5689 points ) August 18th, 2008 from iPhone

I served on a jury recently and was asked this question by an lawyer.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

36 Answers

augustlan's avatar

Ooh, that’s a toughie. Is this an either/or proposition? If so, it’s even tougher. On the one hand, if the innocent man was important to me, or society as a whole, I’d hate to see them put in jail. As for the guilty going free, what are they guilty of? Minor drug charge? I’m ok with him going free. Murderer, or even worse child sex offender? No f’ing way.

eambos's avatar

Guilty of what? What kind of sentance will the innocent man serve?

Couldn’t both render the same outcome? I mean, if there are two suspects, only one is guilty, and the guilty one goes free, won’t the innocent go to jail or vice a versa?

marinelife's avatar

No question. Guilty man go free. That is the entire basis of our justice system.

gooch's avatar

At he time I was just told to answer the question with a simple choice no explaination required… Later the trial went on. The case was a 68 year old man had supposedly raped a girl 48 years earlier when she was 15 years old an he was 20 years old. He is now a very important person in society and a founder of an organization which helps abused children.

xxporkxsodaxx's avatar

Wouldn’t both of those things happen at the same time so you wouldn’t you see both Like if an innocent man went to prison then wouldn’t a guilty man go free? So in turn it wouldn’t matter which you preferred.

gooch's avatar

@eambos In my question the penality for the crime commited was not disclosed at the time, but later I find out the crime, and the penality in my state is death.

crunchaweezy's avatar

Guilty man go free, he sure doesn’t want to go back there.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Guilty man go free. I mean it sucks that hes getting off free and all, but id much rather see that, then someone who’s done nothing wrong have to do time.

crunchaweezy's avatar

Eventually the guilty go free anyway, unless it’s a life sentence.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@crunch or death like gooch said it was in his state

Adina1968's avatar

I would rather see a guilty man go free than send an innocent man to prison. If you are guilty and “get away with it” Karma will get you in the end.

Bri_L's avatar

guilty man go free. no guilty man is every free from himself.

tinyfaery's avatar

Chances are the guilty man will be convicted of another crime somewhere down the line. It’s horrible to think of an innocent person in prison; it has nothing to do with justice.

girlofscience's avatar

Guilty man go free.

aidje's avatar

http://www.lewrockwell.com/anderson/anderson222.html

“While we might look back to the signing of the Magna Charta in 1215 as the beginnings of what are called the Rights of Englishmen, perhaps the most influential document in the history of our law was (I emphasize “was”) William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, published between 1765 and 1769. As Roberts and Stratton point out, Blackstone believed that the law should be a “shield for the innocent” and that the purpose of law (and government) was protection of innocent people (and their property) from predators – and from the predatory state.

From Blackstone’s vision came the view of “innocent until proven guilty,” and the protection of rights for those who were accused. From Blackstone, we are given the famous quote: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer.” Indeed, the concept Rights of Englishmen has been absolutely vital to the very idea of liberty in this country.” [emphasis mine]

aaronou's avatar

In most cases, I think all of us would have to say guilty go free. However, there really is no way to fully determine your answer without circumstances, so let’s add some and see what we might choose.

Suppose the guilty man were some sort of homicidal maniac, like say the Green River Killer. Perhaps it is not so much that society would choose to set him free as it is that he is free because he has not been caught.

And suppose the innocent man is indicted for a misdemeanor of petty theft, which, if convicted, would have the man spend somewhere between a few days to a year in prison.

By setting the guilty man free in this case, then will not innocent lives perhaps be preyed upon if this man continues his murderous rampage? It then becomes a question of the lesser of two evils, right?

Just a thought.

augustlan's avatar

@aaronou: My thoughts exactly. It’s all relative.

wilhel1812's avatar

Guilty man go free. Give him a new chance. just like that story in that book the bible.

wildflower's avatar

Guilty man go free. If there isn’t enough evidence to convict, you shouldn’t. The decision shouldn’t be based on the nature of the crime or the accused person, but on evidence and evidence alone.

susanc's avatar

Blackstone overrides. There is no relativity here. The whole basis of our legal system, as marina says, is that guilt must be established beyond the shadow of a doubt.
I love the idea expressed above that the guilty will be caught next time or that karma will get them. Let’s hope so. But even if not, we can’t be locking people up just in case they’re guilty. Have you people not been reading the papers about guantanamo? abu ghraib? good lord.

ezraglenn's avatar

guilty free for sure.

aidje's avatar

@wilhel1812
When I read “that book” (before getting to “the bible”), I thought you were referring to Les Miserables.

wilhel1812's avatar

lol, i haven’t read that one yet :p

aidje's avatar

@wilhel1812
To be honest, I haven’t either. I just heard a really good radio dramatization. :-)

scamp's avatar

Guilty go free. What was the outcome of the trial, gooch?

gooch's avatar

Guilty man sentenced to death by judge after we found him guilty. He raped her and beat her then shot her three times then left her for dead. Got him many years later even though he tried to make wrong right through his later life of helping other abused girls.

scamp's avatar

How horrible! It must have been very upsetting for you to sit through that trial..

sccrowell's avatar

gooch,
Talk about “Coldcase!” I hate to ask this question as I believe I already know the answer. Why did it take 48 years, to bring this guy to trial? More importantly, did the young girl survive her horrible(sp) ordeal?

gooch's avatar

@sccrowell she did survie the ordeal is married and has children. Many reasons it took so long…mostly evidence & family status

sccrowell's avatar

Thanx, gooch!

justus2's avatar

@gooch my answer to the question first is 100% guilty man go free. Also I would like to know his name, if he helped out a lot of abused girls through his life later on then I would like to see if we can find a story on it

daytonamisticrip's avatar

Guilty man free. I’d find him and set him straight.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. As much as I would hate to see the guilty get off, the severity of the offence notwithstanding, I would hate to see someone loose time out of their life they can’t get back because of a mistake. The system is not perfect but using a gill net to trap everything when you are just trying to catch the cod is overkill to me.

Hibernate's avatar

erm .. I’d rather see the guilty one go free . He has time to deal with his actions but since he is already trying he should be given this chance .

Zaku's avatar

I would rather a guilty man go free, of course.

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