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Old 03-21-2010, 03:17 AM   #1
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more important: punish the guilty or free the innocent

Say you have a group of people. Half of them committed a crime. Half of them are innocent. You can not tell who is who. You have the choice to punish all of them, or let them all go.

Say you punish them all, then innocent people are being punished for something they didn't do.
Say you let them all go, then you let guilty people go free to commit a crime again.

Now, this comes to the question, is it more important that the innocent go free, or the guilty go punished? Why do you think so?
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Old 03-21-2010, 03:30 AM   #2
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Re: more important: punish the guilty or free the innocent

As William Blackstone said, "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."

This question is hard to answer without knowing the precise circumstances of the crimes, punishments, etc. It's more of a case-by-case situation.
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Old 03-21-2010, 03:41 AM   #3
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Re: more important: punish the guilty or free the innocent

Doesn't matter the crime or anything. Just the general opinion on if it is more important for someone who did something wrong to be punished or if it is more important for someone who has done nothing wrong to not be punished.
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Old 03-21-2010, 03:53 AM   #4
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Re: more important: punish the guilty or free the innocent

Between those two choices, I'd punish them all yo

that Blackstone quote is pretty ignorant in some respects too IMO, what if those ten guilty are serial killers or cop-killers? The innocent outside those prison walls would suffer far more than the innocent inside those prison walls yo, I'd rather keep those ten guilty prisoners inside rather than let them all go free just because there are a couple innocent amongst them. Sure, this sounds mean, but I think those outside the prison walls matter a little more than the people inside, and in time those who are innocent and are determined plus lucky enough to prove their innocence will inevitably go free, so I wouldn't worry too much about them anyway
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Old 03-21-2010, 04:02 AM   #5
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Re: more important: punish the guilty or free the innocent

Quote:
Originally Posted by LuklaAdvocate View Post
As William Blackstone said, "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."

This question is hard to answer without knowing the precise circumstances of the crimes, punishments, etc. It's more of a case-by-case situation.
This.

It would be unfair for the innocent, the guilty will be punished sooner or later.
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Old 03-21-2010, 04:03 AM   #6
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Re: more important: punish the guilty or free the innocent

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Originally Posted by Gooeyswat View Post
Doesn't matter the crime or anything. Just the general opinion on if it is more important for someone who did something wrong to be punished or if it is more important for someone who has done nothing wrong to not be punished.
Of course the crime matters. This isn't a "one or nothing" type of question.

If half of those people were spotted for marijuana possession, I'd opt for freeing them all.

If half were serial killers who would kill dozens upon dozens once released, I'd probably opt for locking them all up. As I said, it's case by case.
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Originally Posted by Prophet of 50 Cent View Post
Between those two choices, I'd punish them all yo

that Blackstone quote is pretty ignorant in some respects too IMO, what if those ten guilty are serial killers or cop-killers?
And what if they weren't?
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Old 03-21-2010, 04:45 AM   #7
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Re: more important: punish the guilty or free the innocent

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And what if they weren't?
If they weren't, it would still be just as stupid to set most of them free

the only guilty I would allow to go free would be those found guilty of things that are relatively minor such marijuana possession, depending on the history of the guilty, I wouldn't let most of them free until they've served out their sentence given down by the law in its entirety

Blackstone's quote is a ridiculously vague and poor quote IMO
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:16 AM   #8
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Re: more important: punish the guilty or free the innocent

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Originally Posted by Prophet of 50 Cent View Post
If they weren't, it would still be just as stupid to set most of them free
Why?

In crimes where you would send people to prison for punishment as opposed to protecting the society, then no, sending innocent people to prison would be moronic. You're merely doing it for punishment.

The only situations justifiable in sending innocents to prison are ones in which protecting society outweighs the fact that innocents are in prison, and the crimes committed were a potent threat to society.
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the only guilty I would allow to go free would be those found guilty of things that are relatively minor such marijuana possession, depending on the history of the guilty, I wouldn't let most of them free until they've served out their sentence given down by the law in its entirety
Given by the law? By law, you can only convict if the evidence shows guilt "beyond reasonable doubt." Since you know at least half are innocent, by law, you wouldn't be allowed to convict.
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Blackstone's quote is a ridiculously vague and poor quote IM
It was said back in the 1800's, do you expect it to apply perfectly to today's standards?
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:54 AM   #9
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Re: more important: punish the guilty or free the innocent

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Given by the law? By law, you can only convict if the evidence shows guilt "beyond reasonable doubt." Since you know at least half are innocent, by law, you wouldn't be allowed to convict.
twas a Freudian slip on my part in typing that due to being in a rush, I meant the sentence handed down by the courts/judicial system, not the law

Quote:
The only situations justifiable in sending innocents to prison are ones in which protecting society outweighs the fact that innocents are in prison, and the crimes committed were a potent threat to society.
which was what I was saying/insinuating all along, if they weren't cop-killers or serial killers, yet were still potent threats to society, I would not set them free, instead I'd have to punish

Since I'm pretty sure this thread wasn't made with the intent of making a decision based on the American judicial system or any other specific one in mind, and going rather by one's own personal perspective, then if it were done by a case by case scenario, I'd be setting those groups of people free, the greater cases I'd be more inclined to punish than set free

Quote:
It was said back in the 1800's, do you expect it to apply perfectly to today's standards?
No, I don't, hence why I said I think it's a vague quote to use in a purposely vague situation like this, not knowing who is innocent/guilty, what the crime is, and what the seriousness of the crime as you mentioned earlier makes it tough to call.
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Old 03-21-2010, 09:06 AM   #10
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Re: more important: punish the guilty or free the innocent

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Originally Posted by Prophet of 50 Cent View Post
which was what I was saying/insinuating all along, if they weren't cop-killers or serial killers, yet were still potent threats to society, I would not set them free, instead I'd have to punish
That isn't what you said. You said anything other than "relatively minor." What constitutes "relatively minor?" You can commit a felony that isn't "minor" without being a threat to society.

You also said if they weren't serial or cop-killers,
"it would still be just as stupid to set most of them free."
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Old 03-21-2010, 09:37 AM   #11
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Re: more important: punish the guilty or free the innocent

Quote:
That isn't what you said. You said anything other than "relatively minor." What constitutes "relatively minor?" You can commit a felony that isn't "minor" without being a threat to society.


I'm going by certain types of misdemeanors which seem relatively minor if it were up to me if it came down to my own personal choice yo, going by some depending on the case, public intoxication doesn't always necessarily mean threat to society, nor does prostitution and some types of vandalism, some of these things are worth a fine and a fine alone if caught doing such things, a more significant punishment would come for repeat offenders if it were up to I and I alone

I thought you would have put two and two together on that one, since you did bring up marijuana possession, and I did agree on that as well

Quote:
You also said if they weren't serial or cop-killers, "it would still be just as stupid to set most of them free."


Yeah, and when I said most, I was referring to those who commit crimes that would endanger society. I don't want to add stipulations to her topic any further, but if I was told to decide whether or not a certain group who were accused of rape deserved to go free or be punished, and I wouldn't have the tools necessary to investigate whether or not these people actually committed the crime, I'd send them to jail in a heartbeat in order to keep those who would be guilty from causing any havoc amongst the public

Perhaps my wordage could have been better, but I'm usually posting rough sketches of my thoughts first and then go in depth, my apologies on that

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Old 03-21-2010, 10:13 AM   #12
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Re: more important: punish the guilty or free the innocent

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Originally Posted by Prophet of 50 Cent View Post
Yeah, and when I said most, I was referring to those who commit crimes that would endanger society. I don't want to add stipulations to her topic any further, but if I was told to decide whether or not a certain group who were accused of rape deserved to go free or be punished, and I wouldn't have the tools necessary to investigate whether or not these people actually committed the crime, I'd send them to jail in a heartbeat in order to keep those who would be guilty from causing any havoc amongst the public

Perhaps my wordage could have been better, but I'm usually posting rough sketches of my thoughts first and then go in depth, my apologies on that
Yeah, that's why I was a bit confused; most crimes committed aren't a serious threat to society. Rape, murder, and sort of thing, I'd send the whole group to prison. In cases of drug possession, petty theft, vandalizing, etc., then no.
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Old 03-22-2010, 05:00 AM   #13
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Re: more important: punish the guilty or free the innocent

I'm not a fan of these abstract philosophical questions that don't actually have much bearing on the real world (although this example is a little more down-to-earth than most). As has already been said though, the question can't be answered sensibly without more context.
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