View Poll Results: Is it worse to punish 1 innocent person, or to allow 10 guilty to go unpunished?

Voters
10. You may not vote on this poll
  • Punishing 1 innocent is worse.

    5 50.00%
  • Allowing 10 to go unpunished is worse.

    1 10.00%
  • I want the ratio to be different than Blackwell's.

    1 10.00%
  • There is no correlation between level of evidence and wrongful conviction.

    2 20.00%
  • Betty White / Your Mother / TB's mother is a hamster and his father smells of elderberries

    3 30.00%
Multiple Choice Poll.
Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Random Friday Question 5.0

  1. #1
    Consul The Burninator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The Great Garden State
    Posts
    8,787

    Default Random Friday Question 5.0

    <This topic was recommended by another poster -- if there is a question you'd like to see in a Friday question, PM me.>
    <Dear sympathetic moderators: can one of you change the typo in poll option 3? "Blackwell's" ==> "Blackstone's"? Thanks >


    A British jurist once said: "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." For your googling, this is known as the "Blackstone Ratio." The idea is that in a court of law, if the bar of evidence required to convict someone is set lower, some innocents will end up convicted of crimes they did not commit, but fewer guilty people will go free. Conversely, if you set the bar of evidence higher, fewer innocents will end up wrongly convicted, but more guilty people will go free.

    So the question: is it worse to imprison 1 innocent man, or to allow 10 guilty men to go free?

    Next Random Friday Question
    Previous Random Friday Question
    Last edited by The Burninator; 03-24-2017 at 01:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Philosopher н-υ-п-т-ε-я's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    in my body of course
    Posts
    2,181

    Default

    If you have enough money the law can protect you by bringing the right (almost always expensive) lawyer who knows all the loopholes in the law, to get you "not guilty"!
    Quote Originally Posted by Avicenna
    That whose existence is necessary must necessarily be one essence.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rumi
    What you are seeking is also seeking you.

  3. #3
    Philosopher cofc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Back to Oz.
    Posts
    5,021

    Default

    One is too many no matter the number that "go free."

  4. #4
    Consul The Burninator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The Great Garden State
    Posts
    8,787

    Default

    Wow pretty much everyone just straight agrees with Blackstone. That's actually somewhat unexpected. Such classical liberalism.

  5. #5

    Meherrin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    In a universe of my own design
    Posts
    4,333

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by The Burninator View Post
    Wow pretty much everyone just straight agrees with Blackstone. That's actually somewhat unexpected. Such classical liberalism.
    In an ideal world, one might have more faith that the justice system would be free of racism, classism, sexism, etc, and that would decrease the likelihood of innocent people going to trial. That might make a shift in the evidentiary standard more palatable.

    But Blackstone's ratio is, to my mind, just a figure of speech. I would not call any system just that incarcerates innocent people, even though I have to admit that under any system, mistakes will likely happen.

    Other approaches to minimise the damage done to the wrongly convicted: make the appeals system easier; automatic re-evaluations of sentences after a certain period of time to see if new evidence has emerged, or new forensic techniques exist that might change the interpretation of existing evidence; changes to sentencing to focus on diversion away from prisons and/or reducing the punitive elements in sentencing so that the rightly convicted are more easily rehabilitated and the wrongly convicted suffer less.

    Edit: and of course, where it still exists, the abolishment of the death penalty. The execution of an innocent person by the state is so abhorrent a possibility that this alone should be argument enough for ending the practice.
    Last edited by Meherrin; 03-25-2017 at 10:10 PM.
    And now I'll tell you what's against us, an art that's lived for centuries. Go through the years and you will find what's blackened all of history. Against us is the law with its immensity of strength and power - against us is the law! Police know how to make a man a guilty or an innocent. Against us is the power of police! The shameless lies that men have told will ever more be paid in gold - against us is the power of the gold! Against us is racial hatred and the simple fact that we are poor.
    - The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti, Joan Baez

  6. #6
    Consul The Burninator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The Great Garden State
    Posts
    8,787

    Default

    IMO, racism and classism and the like are what causes false convictions, not the bars of evidence. Also, it matters what the crime is. For example, you shouldn't convict someone of murder unless there is a high bar of evidence met. But what about ****? What if there is a crime where it is (1) physically quite difficult to obtain evidence, and (2) a culture where false accusations are rare while false claims at innocence are commonplace? In such a case, the bar of evidence ought to be lower.

    So it depends on the crime in my opinion -- and I find it unlikely that the correlation between bars of evidence and false conviction will strictly bear out. Seems like it will depend on a ton of other variables, and that Blackstone is setting up a false dichotomy.

    But that's just me and my illiberal self.

  7. #7
    Consul Rokchick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    -32 degrees latitude, free, safe and warm
    Posts
    9,278

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by The Burninator View Post
    IMO, racism and classism and the like are what causes false convictions, not the bars of evidence. Also, it matters what the crime is. For example, you shouldn't convict someone of murder unless there is a high bar of evidence met. But what about ****? What if there is a crime where it is (1) physically quite difficult to obtain evidence, and (2) a culture where false accusations are rare while false claims at innocence are commonplace? In such a case, the bar of evidence ought to be lower.

    So it depends on the crime in my opinion -- and I find it unlikely that the correlation between bars of evidence and false conviction will strictly bear out. Seems like it will depend on a ton of other variables, and that Blackstone is setting up a false dichotomy.

    But that's just me and my illiberal self.
    A false dichotomy is better than more injustice.
    I always took the ratio to be intent rather than specific. It just means "be very careful not to convict wrongly, and if you aren't very sure, don't convict at all".
    I'm glad I'm not judgemental like all you smug, superficial idiots

  8. #8
    Philosopher н-υ-п-т-ε-я's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    in my body of course
    Posts
    2,181

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rokchick View Post
    A false dichotomy is better than more injustice.
    Justice, which people have different definition on. For example: capital punishment for a murder -for some groups of people- is the only justice act.

    Quote Originally Posted by Avicenna
    That whose existence is necessary must necessarily be one essence.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rumi
    What you are seeking is also seeking you.

  9. #9

    Meherrin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    In a universe of my own design
    Posts
    4,333

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rokchick View Post
    A false dichotomy is better than more injustice.
    I always took the ratio to be intent rather than specific. It just means "be very careful not to convict wrongly, and if you aren't very sure, don't convict at all".
    Exactly. Blackstone is not to be taken literally. What one takes from the statement is that justice must above all protect the innocent. It's not a question of whether one raises or lowers the bar of evidence, it is that one conducts justice such that the innocent are not wrongly punished - whatever that entails. The trick is at the same time doing the utmost to ensure that the guilty are properly identified and dealt with, without convicting the innocent.
    And now I'll tell you what's against us, an art that's lived for centuries. Go through the years and you will find what's blackened all of history. Against us is the law with its immensity of strength and power - against us is the law! Police know how to make a man a guilty or an innocent. Against us is the power of police! The shameless lies that men have told will ever more be paid in gold - against us is the power of the gold! Against us is racial hatred and the simple fact that we are poor.
    - The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti, Joan Baez

  10. #10

    Default

    It's worse to have one innocent person punished.

    The right to due process, innocence before guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt, all are great.

    However the justice system has flaws, many misdemeanors don't even make it to jury and many convicted are coerced into making a guilty plea for a lighter sentence, they feel that even though they are innocent, the evidence against them by way of a police officer's testimony or planted evidence or testimony of a witness would land them in jail, so they opt to settle for a lighter sentence. It's scenarios when an innocent person would rather choose to take a lighter punishment than face the evidence against them, even if the evidence is fabricated.

  11. #11
    Consul The Blazin1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Murica... **** yeah
    Posts
    7,669

    Default

    That one innocent person was guilty of something, feed him to the lions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Baron D'Holbach View Post
    You should quote yourself. It's like liking your Facebook status or high-fiving yourself in the mirror.

    It's what I would do if I didn't have to keep mine exactly how it is for madsquirrels and erazer.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •