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What do you think?

Poll #625852 What is more important?

What is more important?

The innocent go free
The guilty are punished

Note: I do mean this in the black and white manner that I've just put forward, there is an explaination below.

A few thoughts on the matter
I've had this conversation with a few people before, a lot of people seem to think that it depends on quite what the situation is, a mass murder should not go free just because an innocent man may be imprisoned. I've heard the "think of the people that the murderer may go on to kill" argument, however try this on for size, how would you feel if you were wrongly imprisoned (or in some contries killed), you'd done nothing wrong but you have in fact been "stitched up" for real. If the innocent is punished, there is no gain, and the real murderer may go on to kill more.

Then of course comes the "well what's the ratio required?", what if the 1 innocent was you?

If the innocent are punished then an entire society is guilty of being an accomplice to the punishment. Does the sentance get watered down for 100 people watching a murder just because 100 people watched it rather than 1?


In the case of violent crime, if the guilty are not punished, how free are the innocent, really?
Why do I have to choose between them? I'd like it if the innocent went free and the provable guilty were prevented from doing it again.
Because no court system is infalable, mistakes are made, but which way should they err?
OK, after a little thought, I chose "The innocent go free".

My reasoning:

If a guilty person is tried and found innocent, then he has escaped punishment. The criminal investigation will probably continue, and may turn up evidence that proves that the guilty person really did commit the crime.

If, however, an innocent person is tried and found guilty, he is being punished unfairly, and the real guilty party has still escaped punishment. In other words, two injustices have been committed, not just one. What's more, since a person has been found guilty, no further investigation into the crime is likely to take place, so the real culprit is more likely to continue to evade justice.

August 2010

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