Wrongly accused of a major crime, morally what are your options?

Lets say you have been accuse and convicted of a crime, something along the lines mass murder while having sex with the governor’s 2 year old daughter. The thing is you didn’t do it, you were always a law abiding citizen. But the ruling comes in, Guilty - the sentence is 20 counts of murder and the sex offense. At a minimum, with good behavior you will serve something like 120 years.

Again you didn’t do it.

Legally there is not much you can do, perhaps appeal, but lets assume such actions have a slim chance of getting you out.

What is your moral responsibility to stay in jail? Is it OK to try to escape and in the process, if needed, kill those who enforce this incorrect decision if it will aid in your attempt of freedom?

I’d say if your chances of ever getting out are super slim, then an escape attempt probably wouldn’t hurt you. Thing is, if you get caught (and chances are, you will), you’ll be locked in a hole so deep, you won’t see daylight for a year. So, you’re damned if you do…

Anyways, I wouldn’t ever kill those who were involved in my prosecution, you would only be adding fuel to the fire. I would need hope to survive, by killing them, that would eliminate my hope.

Escaping, then finding the crucial evidence that exonerates you, you have a change of freedom.

Escaping while killing a couple of prison guards: well, you’ve now committed a different crime, which carries its own penalties, and you’ll spend a long time in jail for it. Besides, they were just a couple of ordinary guys, doing a job that most of us don’t want to do, or even think about, and they have no responsibility for your wrongful conviction.

How can you morally kill a guard in this case?

Sure, try to escape. But you have no moral right to murder people just because something bad happened to you.

Well, wouldn’t that depend on the circumstances ? If they know the only reason you’ve been convicted is that you offended the local dictator, and they are willing to enforce the will of a dictator, then I’d make a point of killing them in an escape. OTOH, if they have no reason to believe you are innocent, it becomes much more of a grey area.

Do you think anyone is going to claim that you have a moral responsibility to bear the punishment for a crime you didn’t commit?

There is an argument for submitting to punishment that you consider injust because it is too severe or because you don’t think the act you were convicted of is wrong, but neither applies if you never did the act in the first place.

I believe that you can morally kill those who are trying to imprison you in this case, although obviously if you can escape without doing so, you are obliged to do so.

I’m uncertain that a case couldn’t be made along these lines. If a person accepts the legal system as generally reliable and beneficial despite the occasional miscarriage of justice, then shouldn’t they be willing to accept the results of that system even if it errs in their disfavor? If a person genuinely believes that society needs a criminal justice system, and they consider the risk of an innocent person being wrongfully incarcerated to be a worthwhile tradeoff, then what grounds do they have to complain if they themselves wind up wrongfully imprisoned? Accepting the benefits of an imperfect system, but not at personal cost, seems a bit like saying, “I’ll take money that I win by gambling; however, I refuse to pay if I lose.”

Escape from the prison bus and then search for the one armed man who commited the crime.

You have to be joking. I don’t wake up every morning and hope my number comes up in the form of not being imprisoned for rape and murder that I didn’t commit.

If anything, the wrongly imprisoned are under a moral imperative to do whatever is necessary (short of harming an innocent) to exonerate themselves (if for no other reason than to redirect an investigation into who actually did it).

Only in the land of naval-gazing ethical theory is it immoral to break out of prison in this circumstance.

If you escape from prison after being convicted of a crime you didn’t commit, I think going down to the harbor to look over warships is going to be pretty low on your priority list.

misspelling-gotchas are my favorite part of the SDMB

Did you mean to add :rolleyes: or :smiley: to your message…?

Who cares about morality in this case? I get sentenced to 120 years, I’m going to try to escape… whether or not I am guilty. It’s not like my sentence is going to get longer and prevent me getting out. I doubt I would be willing to kill someone intentionally to get out, but I will put others’ lives at risk if I have to.

This might make sense from a utilitarian perspective on morality, but it doesn’t from a rights-based one.

I don’t accept a criminal justice system because, on the average, it works out better for most people. I accept it because people have a right not to be harmed by criminals. The criminal justice system is a way of protecting those rights in the least restrictive way possible—by locking up those who infringe upon them.

In the case that an innocent is imprisoned, the system has failed. No people are being protected by his imprisonment, since he wasn’t a danger to them in the first place. And his rights are being unreasonably restricted.

No. If you are a captured POW, your captors will be enemy soldiers. They are enforcing the will of their dictator–one who is violent and evil. You still cannot legally or morally kill them to aid in your escape.

I expressed my opinion in a forum called “Great Debates” and you pointed out a minor spelling mistake - you can put on it whatever face you wish.

That being said:

There is zero chance that, if confined to what is best described as Hell on Earth (prison), one could just suck it up and say, “well, these are the frailties of our legal system! I guess I’m off to the shower for casual sex with the Aryan Nation.”

If wrongly imprisonment, you have one moral imperative: discontinue wrongful imprisonment.

Well, the OP seemed to specifically focus on whether it would be moral to try to break out of prison or not:

I agree that it would likely be more productive (and safer) to seek other alternatives, but that didn’t seem to be the point of the question. Exoneration is not an option.

Now, if you had been snatched off the street by the agents of Evilania and thrown into one of their prisons, where all the guards know that you’re really innocent and just don’t care, then I’d concede that you may have a case for doing whatever is necessary to escape. But in the OP’s scenario, everyone else thinks you’re a murderous sex criminal. They think they’re protecting innocents by keeping you locked up. Practically speaking, the morality your decision to escape or not isn’t “navel-gazing;” these guys have a duty to stop you, and you have to decide whether the end justifies the means.

So is it moral to harm the guards during your attempt to escape, as the OP asks? They’re just doing their jobs, trying to protect the public from dangerous convicted criminals like you. Maybe you’re not morally enjoined from trying to escape, but you may be in for a long wait before an escape plan presents itself that:

A. is likely to be successful, and

B. presents no risk of harm to others.

Would you still accept the criminal justice system if it failed on a regular basis? What if more innocents than criminals were being imprisoned? It seems as though you are suggesting that, all else being equal, a person’s right to safety trumps their right to freedom.

But each prisoner doesn’t get to decide if they’re “innocent” or not. In the OP’s scenario, presumably he knows he didn’t do it. But if it’s OK for him to attempt to subvert the system because he thinks it failed in his case, that opens the door for grayer areas. What if the person did technically commit a crime, but he doesn’t personally think it’s illegal or immoral. Or a case where he doesn’t think he did it, and the truth isn’t clear (despite a conviction) - for example, a date-rate scenario, where he (the prisoner) is convicted, but truly believes it was consensual. What about someone refusing to serve in the military due to religous reasons?

The only two stances that don’t lead to conflicts are the two extremes - either you buy into the system completely, accepting the necessary flaws, and accept any punishment, or you take Why_me?'s stance - everyone can morally reject it and try to escape. How many actual criminals intellectually think their imprisonment is justified in their specific case?


Jesus, maybe?