To jail, or not to jail...?

I think a revision needs to be made on my response. A tweeking if you will. While I would certainly like all laws to be followed, that ain’t gonna happen. People break them all the time. As I said, if I were the person in jail wrongly convicted, I might seriously consider escaping too.

But, as a judge, I wouldn’t have that luxury. I am a member of the judicial branch and as such my job is to interpret the law. If I can do that to the favor of the person who has been wrongly imprisoned for 12+ years, I might do that. What I won’t do, what I cannot do, is make up new law. I cannot ignore the law. I cannot purposely misinterpret the law to suit my whims. I cannot bow to public pressure either.

Any of those things would result in the breakdown of our system, IMO.

“Any of those things would result in the breakdown of our system, IMO.”

Is this not a sign of the system breaking down already?

Gotta agree with Freedom2 here. What innocent man would sit idlely in prison. Who among you would? Prison is a horrible place, and no innocent man should be confined there. This judge should be whupped upside the head.

Even though this is one hell of an improbable scenario (oh let’s say 1:20,000,000 against it happening) I’ve thought about this before. I were sent prison falsely I would damned solitary confinement and do everything within my power to achieve that end. If the warden threatened to release me into GP, I would attempt to start a riot. (This, of course, would be a very illegal act and one subject to punishment.) I would probably start shouting the most vile racists slurs and insults before being released into general population. Something along the lines of “An innocent man has no place among these blank blanking blanks. How could you blanks live with these smelly stupid blanks.” I think that would get me solitary … or shirked 100 times. I would risk death for solitary. Why? Because an innocent man could not, at least I could not, tolerate the enforced company of criminals. Maybe some could, I could not. I would work from solitary with my lawyers to achieve my freedom.

I doubt escape would be a judicious choice. What does an escape convict do? Can’t get a job. Can’t buy a house. Can’t do much else but look over his shoulder for the cops. Most escaped convicts are truly guilty and they would live the life of crime without compunction—but would a truly innocent man want to become a criminal? I doubt hiding and sponging off relatives would be a feasible option. Outside of the movies, escaped convicts don’t track down the real killer while alluding the bounty hunter. Maybe I could flee to country without extradition, I hear Brazil is a nice place for this, and set a free but meager life. I would rather stay and fight for my innocence. That what I would want to do if I were an innocent man falsely jailed.

My question to you is what do you think a truly innocent man do after he escaped from prison?

Why would an innocent man in prison care what happens and what the authorities might do ?

The system has clearly failed him on the most serious charge there is.

If all the infrastructure and legal mechanism cannot get it right in the innocent mans opinion the he may feel that he might as well take his own chances.

Logic has not worked for him, neither has reasoning, that was where the trial failed and then when he finds out there is actual proof that serious doubt on his conviction you think this person is going to sit there and be rational ?


I can’t believe this thread has gone on so long without anyone bringing up The Shawshank Redemption.:slight_smile:
I would just get out of the county. I would get another identity. I’m pretty smart, I think I could pull it off. At least, I’m sure that trying that is preferable to jail.

If I knew who had put me in there, I might be a little vindictive and pay them a visit first. Other than that I would get out of Dodge.

I don’t know about the movie, but the Steven King novella was set some time ago, beginning in the fifties and going to the seventies, I think. In any case, getting a new identity ain’t is easy as it used to be with computerized record keeping. Not to mention the fact that the character in the book hid money and an identity before going to jail. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, the story is FICTION. :smiley: A damn fine book, BTW, but I wouldn’t believe in its real life plausibility.

I think the “let the innocent man escape” faction are mostly basing their ethics on the situations in books, TV, and the movies. Yeah, everyone cheers for the innocent man escaping and living the good life in South America in a book or cheers the innocent man escaping and tracking down the real killer in a movie, that is storybook cheering, but this would be inappropriate for legal and real life ethical problems. Popular fiction or Hollywood movies are not a very good models for law, order, and justice IMHO.

Oof. To paraphrase a person I don’t even care much about, “The law was made for man, not man for the law.” This exactly the problem with mandatory sentencing, and three strikes laws, and “zero tolerance” policies. They prevent judges from using their judgement to do the right thing.

No kidding. Consider he tried to escape THREE times in TWELVE years. That’s once every 1,400 days of being wrongfully imprisoned. The other 1,399 days he was more than willing to put up with things, but prison has a tendancy to eat away at you and I certaintly can’t blame him for trying.

Man 'o man…

I wasn’t basing my opinion on what to do in this case based on a movie or a book. My comment was sort of tongue in cheek. The second half of my post was unconnected to the Shawshank comment.

It’s actually pretty simple. Illegal aliens who come over here with no money in their pocket manage to do it every single day. The only glitch in the plan I see is your fingerprints. (and maybe America’s Most Wanted:)) So as long as you could avoid getting arrested for something else, I think you could do just fine.

Wrong answer please try again.
I always cheer for the innocent man. I concede that it doesn’t make for good policy to try and catch every exception, but on a personal level I think an innocent man in jail has every right to escape.

On the whole I agree. I don’t want guys driving cars around shooting at each other either, but I think the innocent man thing passes all the tests and makes into reality.

Of course…

I am looking at this from the PERSPECTIVE of the innocent man. Therefore I know many things you and I do not have the luxury of assuming. If you look at this situation from that perspective, everything is still ok.

As the innocent man, I know that I am truly innocent and not just manipulating the system. Acting as the IM, when I escape and the authorities pursue me, I do not set a precedent for institutional exceptions.

(The system is not perfect. Sometimes the guilty go free, sometimes they escape and are not caught)

As the IM, society truly has pushed me into a new set of standards to survive. I can morally (IMHO of course) lie to the authorities in order to live as normal and free life as possible. As the IM, I understand that the system is screwed, and will always pursue me. It still considers me guilty, and needs to keep this assumption to keep itself working.

However…just because society needs me in jail, doesn’t mean it is right, nor does it mean I should willingly go.

I used to live in an apartment in Arlington, VA and there were quite a lot of illegal immigrants in the neighborhood. They stood on the street corner down the way waiting for under the table day labor jobs. They hooked up with friends and relatives, living five to six to a bedroom and sleeping on floors. The IDs they got were vary basic, only made to fool those who were willing to looking the other way in the first place. You couldn’t buy a house with it. You couldn’t get a driver’s license. You couldn’t buy a new car. You couldn’t rent a decent apartment. You wouldn’t have an employment history. And you couldn’t get a decent high paying job. I doubt a technology company would be fooled with a cheap fake ID. Even if you did fool a decent company do you think you’d fool the mother-of-all-evil the IRS? As much as I hate the IRS, I don’t you can have a normal, decent life without “donations.” You’re life on the lam would be full of squalor and poverty. You may gain the freedom from prison walls, but you would not have FREEDOM. Life in jail wouldn’t be very enjoyable, of that I am sure, but life on the lam is equally not what I’m looking for either.

I was looking from the perspective of the IM. Obviously, we have different conceptions of what freedom means. I think it was Thoreau who said, something along the lines of, “You can jail my body, but not my mind.” (Real rough paraphrase.) If the IM escaped and lived on the lam, I think he would be freeing the body but jailing the mind. He would, in essence, be denying the opportunity of exoneration for a prison without walls. The IM who escapes is thinking only about freedom for his flesh.

I would wait for the real thing, baby.

Fair old time to wait though is 12 years ain’t it, especially when you have no idea even if you will be released.

From the op, now he will never be released.

I deal with them everyday in a close way.

Suffice it to say that almost everything else in your post about how you would have to live is wrong.

They all have drivers licenses. The IRS gives them an ID# to pay taxes with. Many illegal aliens pay taxes, they actualy get in more trouble if they get caught working and they have not paid anything. Many own cars, with the title in their name. They might have trouble buying a house, but they all rent. Hell, I rent. I was not put through any checks, my credit was not checked and no references were required. I live in a house in a nice neighborhood.

These guys mostly do this while they don’t even speak english. The guys you see on the corner are mostly new guys, or guys who are not good workers. After they get their feet on the ground and get “plugged in,” they will not be out on the corner anymore.

You may have a point though. Different people might be able to do it much better than others. I could see myself hitting the ground and being set-up somewhere else in the country in less than a month, and out of the country in two or three more. Others might escape and have no idea what to do. The point is, if you were locked up behind bars you would be the one making that decision.
You may not live like a “normal” American, but you would have freedom. Freedom to me is being able to respond to the environment and society you are in. No one in America is truly FREE. We all have some restrictions put upon us. Things may not be FAIR, but you would be a lot closer to living how you wanted to than you would in a 6X6 prison cell for the rest of your life.

Okay, if you’re an expert I’ll take your word for it, but only so far as you’re speaking of illegal immigrants who get a lot of leeway in major metropolitan areas. (BTW, do these immigrants use fake new identities and what’s their status, if any, with the INS?) Escaped felons, our original subject matter, don’t have much leeway outside criminal circles. Unless, of course, you deal with escaped felons everyday in a close way and have inside knowledge of them too. :smiley:

I don’t think establishing a new identity is as easy as you make it out to be. During the early nineties I read a book on the subject, How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found and concluded it would be a difficult task to “disappear.” It was published in 1986 and described, in part, the difficulties of establishing a birth certificate, social security number, and generally getting around computer files and, as I have said before, there are more files on everything a person does now than ever before. That’s where I’m basing my information from. Where do you get your information that a new identity is “pretty simple?” Things may have changed since I last read the book and inquiring minds what to know.

BTW, the book is still in print and can be bought from ( Before someone asks, I was reading the book as research for the erstwhile twenty something novelist manqué in me.

Well, I’d have no clue on the lam, my practical experience being, well, zilch. I’d be back in the slammer in two or three weeks tops, but your time table is quite ambitious. Where would you get your knowledge from to make it happen? I hope you wouldn’t recommend consorting with the cons in yard for suggestions.

Point of curiosity. Does any body know how many felons escape each year and are never recaptured?

Would you really be closer to living as you wanted on the lam? An IM would be innocent because he didn’t do the crime. I’m not so sure an IM would want to live the life as criminal if he were truly innocent. (You’ll have to convince me that an escaped felon could live as a “law abiding” citizen on the lam.) Freedom from the 6X6 cell sounds better on the surface, but is it worth adapting a criminal lifestyle to achieve? Where would a IM wrongly sentenced for rape and murder draw the line? Would he limit his “crime” to the escape only? How about murdering a guard or cop that impedes his run to freedom? Would he limit his crimes to non-violent acts like pick-pocketing or petty theft? Maybe only crimes to assure his new identity like document forgery? If he succumbs to the criminal lifestyle he could only consider himself innocent of the original crime, but he would be a guilty man in other respects. If he were ever recaptured he would have rightfully earned his place in prison. Of course, the criminal life style may seem palatable to our now ex-IM after 12 years of wrongful imprisonment. That’s is some trade for a life on the lam in Brazil, I suppose an IM of weak convictions would take it.