To jail, or not to jail...?

Theres a news story from Alabama I think… Ill make it brief as most of you probably already know about it. An young man was imprisoned aroun 18 years of age. He is now 31 and has been found totaly innocent. However a judge sentences his to remain in prison for life because he tried to escape 3 times. The state has a 3 srtikes and your in for life rule.

How that this judge not account for the fact that he was falsely jailed thus leading up to his escape attempts? Does anyone agree with the judges decision? I imagine no one in thier right mind could so I ask now, how does one man get to make such a decision that is so clearly opposed by the masses?

Loosing faith in our judicial more and more each day. First OJ, now this, whats next?

Attempting to escape from lawful custody is a crime, and for good reason. The law allows for him to be imprisoned for life, and due to reactionary anti-crime attitudes in recent years, probably requires it. His best hope for freedom is a governor’s pardon.

This is a classic example of how our judicial system can go wrong, especially when people decide that defendant’s rights aren’t all that important. The continued erosion of the Bill of Rights (in the name of the War on Drugs) is, IMO, as much to blame for this guy’s situation as anything else.

If he was innocent then it can only mean that his incarceration was unlawful and he was entitled to regain it, unless he used violent means to do it which would then be offences in their own account

I must preceed this by saying that I have no legal training, and no knowledge of the law in this case.

It would seem, as casdave said, that if the man was incarcerated unlawfully, would his attempts to escape actually be breaking the law. It could be likened to someone being kidnapped and trying to escape. If he did not commit any other crimes when escaping (injuring someone, stealing something etc) it could be argued that he was just trying to regain something taken from him.

If the state is keeping you in prison unlawfully, is it still a crime to try to escape?


Just because he ended up being innocent doesn’t mean he was unlawfully imprisoned. Obviously at the time a judge or jury found him guilty of a crime. Later on evidence must have been found showing him not to be guilty. He attempted to escape lawful incarceration three times. Personally so long as he didn’t violently attempt escape I’d probably just let him go.


I think you’ve been watching way too much TV casdave because your brain must have been fried like a burger for thinking that one up. Or did you just get a C- in the sarcasm lessons offered by waterj2?

There’s a difference between being erroneously incarcerated and unlawfully incarcerated. I suspect this person’s incarceration was erroneous but not unlawful.

An unlawful incarceration would be if the police arrest you for no reason, or hold you for more than 72 hours without arraignment, or continue to hold you after having been acquitted or after dismissal of the writ of indictment. That would be unlawful. This person was convicted by a court of law and lawfully imprisoned consequent to that conviction. The fact that the conviction was eventually overturned doesn’t make the prior imprisonment unlawful, but merely erroneous.

While this sounds harsh, consider the consequences if we went the other way on this issue. Every person who, whether rightfully or wrongfully, believed he was innocent of the charge for which he has been convicted would feel licensed to attempt to escape. The risk of injury to prison employees, other prisoners, and citizens is too high.

IMO, if his escapes did not unduly endanger anyone, he should be pardoned of the escape offenses by the governor, or at least have his sentence commuted. I suspect the only reason the judge hasn’t reduced the sentences is that the state’s “tough on crime” three strikes law prevents him from doing so. Another example of how fixed sentencing laws can be unfair.

Blame the Georgia legislature for this one; ultimately, it’s their fault for passing such a harsh and inflexible criminal sentencing law.

I could be completely wrong about this but I think that either the US Supreme Court or one of the state Supreme courts ruled that being innocent did not entitle you to a new trial.

I think the case was as thus: guy is convicted of raping and killing a woman. Dozens of appeals later, he gets a DNA test that proves he wasn’t the killer, but the court ruled that just because he was innocent didn’t entitle him to a new trial, because no reversible error had been found in his origional trial.

As I said, I could be completely wrong about this. It’s just something I remember having heard at one time. Maybe one of you guys could set me straight???

The problem is that the DNA test doesn’t prove that the defendant is not the killer. At best, it proves that he didn’t have sex with the victim. The standard, once a conviction has been had, is irrebuttable proof of the defendant’s innocence. A lesser standard, while possibly more fair, would further clog already clogged courts with largely baseless motions to set aside verdicts. The court, in ruling on a motion to set aside or a motion for a new trial, must consider whether the new evidence is of such probative value that no rational jury, in possession of that evidence, could possibly have convicted the defendant, and this standard only applies if the evidence was not available to the defense at the time of trial. These rules are as much to protect the integrity of the judicial system as to ensure fairness for defendants.

We can debate the merits of these rules – and in fact I suspect they will be debated in some legislatures – but the situation is never as simple as it seems. The judicial system is not intrinsically 100% fair. There are lots of compromises to service the number of competing interests, and sometimes those compromises seem hard to swallow.

One of the Supremes(Renquist?) said that innocence was no bar to upholding a conviction. IIRC, the issue in that case was an appeal that was filed after a deadline had passed, ad the court refused to hear the case.

But I could be wrong.


Were going to lock this guy up for life? While thousands of worthless wastes who have commited unspeakable acts walk? I dont care if the guy tried to escape everyday of his sentence and took the life of a cop each time he did. He had every HUMAN right to do so. He was held captive buy someone for no reason for what was it twelve years? Im sure he stated the fact several times that he was in fact innocent and his guilty verdict was a mistake. They threw him in the slammer anyway. So what is a man to do? Sit back and allow twelve years of his life to waste away while he is locked away in an institution with the real low life scum for which he was mistaken for? I think not. This is the first Ive heard of this story so I dont know all the details but what Ive heard from you fine people it sounds to me like the guy should be released and the incompetent judge and jury who performed this travesty should all be flown to the fartherest planet from the sun where they will be forced to feast on the remains of the dreaded Forlax plant for a thousand horrifing years. Ive already said too much.

“There is no spoon…”

You’re right, spooje. I read something about that just yesterday.

Correct me if I’m wrong Arcain_Norcon but you seem to indicate that if a man is lawfully but wrongly incarcerated, he has “no moral limitations” (that is my words in your mouth) and can to waste cops in the attempt to escape each and everyday. What bilge water! If that is a HUMAN right then call me an orangutan. An injustice committed against him does not entitle him to commit injustices to rectify the situation.

The law was not broken by putting him in jail, even if he is innocent, but the law was broken in attempting to escape. Escaping form a Federal prison is a felonious offense and felons generally belong in jail. Should the judge excuse the escape attempts or the Governor pardon him? I suppose that depends on his behavior the past twelve years. If he had a violent pattern of rape, fighting, and rioting et al then he should probably stay where he is. If he was well behaved, then his escapes could be pardonable.

The situation is not so simple as just Freeing an Innocent Man.

How does OJ connect to this again?

“If he had a violent pattern of rape, fighting, and rioting et al then he should probably stay where he is. If he was well behaved, then his escapes could be pardonable.”

If this, if that, it was only twelve years right? I dont suppose you would know anything about his behavoir while he was incarcerated? If so Im sure we would all like to learn of it.

Now, I did not literally mean he should be able to kill a cop every day.
I was being figurative. (fig’yer•e•tiv) 1.using words out of their literal meaning to add beauty or force.
-Im beautiful and forceful-

I should think however that the Man should be able to fight for his freedom?

Put his shoes on. What would thou do?

Allow me my own words.

… You should probably try to stay away from being figurative(oh wow I didnt know what that meant :rolleyes: ) If you want to be taken seriously.

Since I’ve been in the other law and order threads advocating strict justice, I just wanted to weigh in here and say this guy needs to be let out.
I personally DO feel that he has every right as a person to try and free himself by whatever means is neccesary. I do not see him owing this country or it’s laws any higher loyalty than his own life. Especially when the country and laws have taken away his right to “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…”

If I were falsely imprisoned, you better believe I would be trying my hardest to get out. What would your arguement be to convince me otherwise?

I was met with a little disagreement on another thread when I commented that law did not equal right and wrong. I think this is another great example of that.

Arcain, I hope you go into a prison and get raped by a hundred men on a daily basis.
Oh no…I wasn’t being literal. What I meant was I’d like to buy you a lolipop. :rolleyes:
I’m of mixed feelings of this. Guilty doesn’t mean he did it and Not Guilty doesn’t mean he’s innocent. Never has, never will. That he was locked up was clearly a mistake…but an unavoidable one. They thought he did it.

Juries are there to process imperfect information from imperfect sources and render an opinion with almost no legal expertise to their name. Despite this, the system does work quite well. What wouldn’t work well is judges second guessing every jury decision and determining if it’s the correct one. We have to have trust that they’ve chosen correctly, despite the fact that sometimes they don’t.

So the guy legally went to jail. In his situation, I don’t know what I would do. Perhaps I too would try to escape. I can tell you that I’d be pissed. I’d be even more pissed if they continued to lock me up after my innocence has been proven.
But, and this is the key part, how I feel, how he feels, how the public feels is irrelevant. The law is the law. I don’t know what the law is. I don’t know if the judge followed the law. I’m not going to argue it. I’m going to say that even the most unpopular laws must be followed until they can be changed. You have a problem with this, change the law!

“Arcain, I hope you go into a prison and get raped by a hundred men on a daily basis.” -Enderw23

Whos to say I am a straight male? I could be a hetrosexual female or gay male? I just might enjoy that. As for the lollipop I prefer grape but any will do.
thanx sweety

How would you apply this to the civil rights movement in the 60’s?

It was only by breaking unjust laws that they got changed.
I understand your (unstated) fear of the breakdown of the system if we always just cherry picked laws to follow, but when you are getting screwed like this, you have to act. You only get one life to live. I’m sure “the good of society” looks a little less important when that means you live your life in a 6X6 cell for just because a mistake was made.