Did you know that innocent people are routinely put in jail?

We had a discussion in class that brought this up and I thought I would share. If you are innocent until proven guilty then why the heck do they lock you up while your trial is going on? This means that there are a lot of innocent people in prison. I’m not protesting just asking…maybe it should be guilty until proven innocent. Just a thought.
Hmmmmmmmmm! :wink:

Because then people wouldn’t return for trial.

The whole point of bail is to make sure that the defendant returns for trial. If s/he doesn’t come back, then the bail amount is forfeit.

Zev Steinhardt

Jail is not the same as prison. Most people in jail are not yet convicted, all the ones in prison have been convicted. I think that all of us would do well to remember that people in jail often have not been convicted of a crime and insist in better conditions in jails. Jails are needed not just to make sure people show up for trial, but they are used to hold people being processed before bail is even set. Misunderstandings, misidentification, lies, abuse of the system can land one in jail easily enough, why would that mean that we should change to guilty till proven innocent? Too often jailhouse violence is dismissed as an issue because, who cares it is just a bunch of criminals beating each other up or getting what they deserve from the police/guards. Many truly innocent people die in jails.

And many guilty people don’t go to jail.

I don’t know how the American system works, but in Australia it is up to the Magistrate or judge to grant bail depending on the seriousness of the charge and the likelihood of the person to skip.

It is worse when someone is stuck in jail with no charges laid.

New Zealand needs to be ashamed.

For a lot of things. :stuck_out_tongue:

Oh I flaunt the dirty knickers and you want to bring on the whole hamper? :slight_smile:

The concept of presumed innocence and burden of proof is only applicable within the legal proceedings. Outside of these, the balance of probabilities can be applied. For example, a doctor accused of murdering a patient could hardly expect to continue working, just because he/she is presumed innocent within the courtroom.

You know that is bollocks legally. Ok in reality it works that way, but it does NOTHING to protect the innocent.

I thought the police (in the US at least) didn’t bother with jail for minor crimes and when they caught you just gave you a slip that said ‘heres your court date’. Like if you are drunk and disorderly or something like that they just say ‘be in court on X’. For a felony like armed robbery its different though naturally.

You have the right idea Wesley Clark, but not a good example. Something like “drunk and disorderly” would usually send you to jail so you can sober up and bail out in the morning. But a lot of simple, lesser misdemeanors will have you RORed. Released on Own Recognisence. This varies greatly by department though.
I know a county that will book just about everyone. Mainly because it’s a pretty rural county and I guess they have pleanty of room. But every little crime gets booked. The city I live it, tries it’s best to avoid booking people for misdemeanors. To include driving on a suspended license (with knowledge) - a second degree misdemeanor. They’ll write you a court date and then leave. They’ll tell you not to drive your car once they leave, but they’ll also make it clear that they’re not going to stick around and babysit you.
The city right next door will take your ass to jail and impound your car for the same crime.

To the OP. You need to keep a couple things in mind:

  1. Jail is not the same as prison
  2. We can’t just throw random people in jail. There needs to be probable cause.
  3. Just because someone is found innocent later, or charges are dropped or whatever, doesn’t mean they didn’t do it. So you can’t look at findings of “not guilty” and claim that all those people were innocent. These people just weren’t convicted.
  4. Yes, occassionally some totally innocent people have to spend a couple hours in jail. But it doesn’t mean we have a “guilty until proven innocent” system. People have to be processed.

How do you propose we change the system? I think it works rather well. Except I think there are way too many criminals in jail solely on drug related convictions. Other than too many vice-crimes, I think the system isn’t all that bad.

My BF at the time and I were taken hostage in Norfolk VA by the man who had raped a woman in the hotel in which we were staying.
He released us after we were identified on Paul Harvey-aproximately 9 hours later.
As requested, we showed up at the police station in Norfolk to give our statements the next day.
Now, as this was in 1973 and we looked like ‘hippies’, the detective in charge of the case decided that we were “Footloose and fancy free” and had us held as material witnesses to a felony.
As we were booked on Thursday and Friday was a holiday, I got the dubious pleasure of spending four days in a Virginia jail.
Thankfully, the judge that we appeared before on Monday was the (and I quote here) “The liberal Jewish Judge” or we would have been held until the arraignment.
Theoretically, the perp could have been released on bail while we still sat in jail.

In PA the District Magistrate has a good deal of latitude regarding whether or not you are RoR, or sent to County lockup. The conduct of the accused determines this, too. A police officer friend tagged a guy for DUI, after the fellow wrecked his car. They drove him down to the Magistrate’s house for arraignment (rural PA at 3 AM). The Magistrate decided to RoR and was filling out the paperwork while the defendant and the other officer waited outside. Suddenly, the Magistrate heard something. The fellow was taking a long, steaming whiz on the front wall of the house. Instead of RoR, he went to Lancaster County prison. :wink:

One of the main points we (the class) were making was that it already is guilty until proven innocent.
The teacher asked us; why people lose their freedom in jail if they are innocent?
Then somebody said that we should have a new word to describe something between guilty and innocent.
Then at the end the teacher said that the word is; presumed innocent, which has a different meaning than innocent. :slight_smile:

JAIL is not PRISON, I got it.

I don’t think you do have it. Kindly expound on the difference between jail and prison. I’m all ears.

Prison is long term and jail isn’t.

In a jail you could be there for a few hours or for over a year but probably not ten years. Some jails may house juveniles, men and women all in the same building (not cell).
Prisons are made for the most serious offenders and sometimes violent offenders. All the people in prison have been convicted of their crime(s). The people in jail are awaiting conviction or an acquittal.

Duh, of course… THAT’S why you get to move your thimble out of jail on the third monopoly turn, even without rolling doubles. :smiley:

Never made the connection before - don’t think I’ve ever really thought of the difference between J and P, come to think of it.

Everybody in here’s innocent. Didn’t you know that?

Before a person can be detained for longer than 48 hours, there must be a showing by the State of probable cause that a crime was committed and the defendant committed it. Although this is usually done by the simple filing of a complaint by the prosecutor, it is still a measure of protection against being held when you are presumed to be innocent.

I think this is the essential point. An accused person is entitled to a presumption of innocence during legal proceedings. This means, among other things, that the burden of proof falls on the prosecution and the accused can be declared “not guilty” simply because the prosecution failed to discharge that burden, with no need to establish actual innocence.

This presumtion of innocence is popularly (e.g. in the OP) rendered as “you are innocent until proven guilty.” But this is a rather sloppy way of expressing it. Some people are guilty as hell long before guilt is proved, and even if it is never proved. Such folks are still entitled to a presumption of innocence during all proceedings. And this presumption of innocence during proceedings obviously does not allow an accused person to (successfully) say “Hey, I haven’t been proved guilty, so I must be innocent - release me.”