Would you rather have one innocent person mistakenly executed or two innocent people mistakenly kept in prison till their death?

Posted by: Mathgeekjoe

By "mistakenly" I mean that the justice system mistakenly thought there wasn't a reasonable doubt of them being innocent.

  • 1 innocent person executed.

  • 2 innocent people kept in prison till death.

70% 14 votes
30% 6 votes
  • They can still be proven innocent...

  • I agree with retrogamer. There is still time to prove them innocent. Actually, there have been many imprisoned people who were proven innocent by the innocence project.

  • Life in prison does not equate to being put to death. They are not the same level of punishment, though our legal system treats them as such.

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tajshar2k says2015-05-20T08:55:16.5686109-05:00
IDK, this is a tough one. But death penalty cases are really careful, so Its almost guaranteed you are not going to execute somebody innocent. They have 12 juries, and even If one of them think they are innocent, they automatically get life in prison.
retrogamer176 says2015-05-20T09:14:02.5296904-05:00
@tajshar2k you are giving our justice system WAYYY too much credit!
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-20T09:15:52.3240940-05:00
@retrogamer176, It is already said they are in prison till they die. Are you are talking about being proved innocent after death?
blackkid says2015-05-20T09:25:42.7018472-05:00
Why not just make Soylent Green out of all three and call it a day?
retrogamer176 says2015-05-20T09:39:06.6104683-05:00
@mathgeek even after the person is imprisoned, the justice system can't ignore evidence that proves them innocent. For example, if someone testified the person guilty, but later admitted that he lied, they can't just ignore it and say "he's already convicted, I don't feel like looking into this." It's not like, once the judge convicts you your life is over", you still have a chance. (slim, but it's there) However, if someone is given the death penalty, and is proven to be innocent afterwards, you can't take that back. Not unless we learn how to resurrect someone.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-20T09:45:15.0285204-05:00
@retrogamer176 It is already given in the question that they die. Did you not read the question correctly?
tajshar2k says2015-05-20T09:50:03.1239317-05:00
If he still lived, then yes I would go with the option on the right, but in this case, both died after being proved innocent.
tajshar2k says2015-05-20T09:50:45.6035486-05:00
@retrogamer176 How? It's true. They haven't executed an innocent man in like 30 years.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-20T09:53:32.9232930-05:00
"both died after being proved innocent." I am guessing you made a typo. If they were proven innocent before their death then they would either A, not be executed, or B not die in prison.
What_Ali_Thinks says2015-05-20T10:18:54.2461121-05:00
Two innocent people kept in prison (til death) because that allows for time to be put in to come up with more evidence and information in proving them innocent.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-20T10:27:49.6142433-05:00
@What_Ali_Thinks. Maybe I didn't clarify enough, but the question is supposed to mean that the two people who got life in prison ended up dying in prison.
Targaryen says2015-05-20T10:30:16.3031381-05:00
Really depends on which one the media would blow up more.
What_Ali_Thinks says2015-05-20T10:35:45.3602660-05:00
I see. Well choosing to have the innocent person executed would create even more argument over the death penalty. I know I voted for the 2 innocent people, but I don't know anymore since the 2 innocent people would be suffering for decades.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-20T10:37:24.5625737-05:00
Well they might not suffer for decades, it is possible they commit suicide in the prison. But either way the question says that they died in prison.
retrogamer176 says2015-05-20T11:23:58.1550956-05:00
@tajshar2k and where is your evidence of that? Studies have shown that at least 4% of people sentenced to death turn out to be innocent. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/28/death-penalty-study-4-percent-defendants-innocent http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/28/innocent-death-penalty-study_n_5228854.html http://phys.org/news/2014-04-percent-death-row-inmates-innocent.html Where is your ground that an innocent person has never been convicted?
blackkid says2015-05-20T11:26:10.3676381-05:00
@retrogamer The better question is how many people have been executed in the past 30 years? If it's at least 1,000 then the odds are in your favor, but I'm not sure how high that number actually is, mind you it would have to be for crimes committed within the time frame as well I would suppose.
retrogamer176 says2015-05-20T11:27:32.2536128-05:00
The innocence rate actually happens during these last 30 years thank you.
blackkid says2015-05-20T11:28:57.6652553-05:00
@retro Well it's unfortunate your source has a 404 error then.
retrogamer176 says2015-05-20T11:30:48.2089811-05:00
@blackkid I checked and all 3 links do work.
blackkid says2015-05-20T11:34:31.4960750-05:00
"The study, published in a prestigious journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, does not solve perhaps the greatest single riddle of the death penalty: how many innocent people have actually been put to death in modern times. That remains a haunting unknown.", this is the first source.
retrogamer176 says2015-05-20T11:44:25.4150963-05:00
@blackkid these sources responds to tajshar2k's claim that not a single person has ever been falsely executed in the past 3 decades.
blackkid says2015-05-20T11:54:36.9636172-05:00
It's 2015 and the past three decades would be 2000, 1990, and 1980 but this goes back 40 years or so meaning that genetic testing wasn't available. How many cases were in the previous thirty years specifically going back to 1995?
retrogamer176 says2015-05-20T12:01:58.0095379-05:00
@blackkid did you read all 3 articles, or just the first one?
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-20T14:22:06.6464284-05:00
Well not to mention, life in prison is still a life ... Albeit a crappy one. It does not equate to death.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-20T21:23:29.4286264-05:00
@FreedomBeforeEquality, But they are both death in prison, the end result is the same of both situations.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-21T08:40:15.4893241-05:00
The end of one is quicker and is directly a result of the people who thought you committed a crime against them. Life in prison is death by natural causes, just sequestered away from the rest of society.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-21T08:42:44.7469315-05:00
Its like the difference between pulling the plug on a person in a comma or letting them continue their comma status with the slim possibility that they might wake up later. Pulling the plug is more harsh. Not pulling it is a chance at life.
retrogamer176 says2015-05-21T09:15:24.1914124-05:00
@freedom that..... Was actually a really good comparison...
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-21T10:04:28.4443418-05:00
@FreedomBeforeEquality, The death penalty still takes a long time before the execution. Typically on the order of a decade or two. While I agree with you it is harsher, is it twice as harsh as two people kept in prison till they day they die? And that is what the question is asking. Also don't forget that the two people end up dying in prison, it is a given. Anyways, as for your comparison, I for the most part agree. I just find it weird that someone like retrogamer agrees with a comparison. Often you hear the unplugging of life support being compared to abortion by pro-choice supporters. Often they consider it to not be harsh and to be morally right. So I find it weird that a person who is pro-choice said it was a good comparison.
retrogamer176 says2015-05-21T10:21:47.1239859-05:00
@mathgeek Yeah, sorry it's actually a pretty bad comparison, now that I think about it. I personally would rather have the plug pulled than be stuck in a coma forever. But, I'd like to give the man some time before it's an option. As for the criminal, if it wasn't possible to put and innocent person on death row, I'd be for the death penalty. Depending on the crime, obviously.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-21T10:40:55.5512905-05:00
@retrogamer176, Death penalty cases often get a lot more money spent to make sure the guilty party isn't innocent. There is likely several times more innocent people with life in prison than on death row. Now before you try saying that people with life in prison have more time to be proven innocent, I would like you to realise that the death penalty takes a really long time to execute. Often on the course of 1 to 2 decades. Also those on death row have a lot more resources to use to prove their innocence compared to those with life in prison.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-21T12:36:31.7254759-05:00
So what youre saying is ... By getting the death penalty ive just bought a ticket for a better chance at proper justice? Since more money and care will be taken to ensure im not put to death falsely?? Then on those grounds I think we should do away with 'life in prison' entirely. It sets a bad precedent for placing people in jail (essentially killing them by your view) and without an equal review of their case, under the assumption that someone will come along and look at your appeals. All of which sit on the back burner while more pertinent cases go through first. Anyway ... Its easy for people to make a choice about another persons life when they aren't the one in the comma. A chance at life is better than no chance. Look at it from the innocent persons standpoint. You're standing in front of the judge and they have already deemed you guilty ... You're getting one or the other no matter what. Do you really say to them "You win, please kill me now." or do you go to jail, where you can still have visitation from your loved ones and have a presence in your former life. You can write letters, console loved ones and children, be consoled, possibly be freed. You still have worth sitting in prison.
blackkid says2015-05-21T12:47:37.9464967-05:00
"Its like the difference between pulling the plug on a person in a comma or letting them continue their comma status with the slim possibility that they might wake up later. Pulling the plug is more harsh. Not pulling it is a chance at life." Wasting away consciously aware that you are never going to leave a prison and therefore never see your family or friends or even run in a field again is a tad different from being out cold.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-21T13:39:54.5482057-05:00
You do get to see them. You still get visitation and outside communication. Its not 'the shoe' the entire time in prison.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-21T13:41:26.3869505-05:00
'the SHU', rather.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-21T13:43:14.7312553-05:00
Unless youre religious and think you are going somewhere better when you finally die ... There is no benefit in death than there is life in prison. You still can have interaction with people, read books, eat food, etc. All sorts of things. When you're dead you're dead.
blackkid says2015-05-21T13:43:41.8114238-05:00
From the coma patient's vantage point there's no suffering. . . As they are in a coma. From the prisoner's vantage point they are in prison and get to see someone once every who knows and for a few minutes each time. It's just not equivalent if we think of the affected versus the onlooker.
blackkid says2015-05-21T13:44:44.0429728-05:00
Being able to do something doesn't make life invaluable. Either that or quadriplegics have nothing to complain about.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-21T13:45:08.7458535-05:00
Also ... Comatose people still have brain activity. They could be dreaming or whatnot. Who knows what they see. Some of them say they even recognize having heard the people in the room while they were unconscious. Again, dead is dead. Life in prison is not the same as death.
blackkid says2015-05-21T13:54:44.2645153-05:00
Life in a cage is, especially if undeserved, likely far worse than death. As for the comatose person that kind of brain response isn't stereotypically common or even truly predictable.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-21T14:29:25.3076059-05:00
Unpredictable enough to not do it? In the case of justice, you are expected to be dealing a particular level of it back onto that criminal. I find a persons response to whether they'll enjoy life in a cage or not completely unpredictable versus how they might deal with being put to death for their crimes. Criminals become content with their life in prison all the time. Remember that guy from Shawshank Redemption (the older guy, Brooks Halten)? He killed himself because they freed him. That place was his home. His criminal friends, all he knew. You can build a lifestyle anywhere, become acquainted with your surroundings, and adapt. Its what people do.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-21T14:32:42.7975324-05:00
I think youre doing the justice system a disservice by providing a punishment that means less to different individuals. If you put that guy to death, you'd never know one way or the other whether he felt the burden of his crimes in the end. With life in prison, youre potentially making a mistake and letting certain people off easy. An injustice to the victim of a murder or his family.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-21T14:33:35.6201482-05:00
And you cant very well turn around and fix the problem either because they guy would be protected by 'double jeopardy'.
blackkid says2015-05-21T14:40:24.0048016-05:00
I feel as though you are choosing the "best" route for the prisoner in the prison like it's just going to work out or something. If a man is accused of rape, and everyone believes he did it, he will get no visitors, if he had a wife she will divorce him, if he had children he won't see them, and his entire external life dies. Adaptation is not equivalent in any sense to optimization esp. In the case of an innocent man. Even if he was found innocent and released his life has been wrecked, but in this scenario he is never released, thus he is never found not guilty, thus he dies a "dirty rapist" and that's the end of his legacy. There really are things worse than death.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-22T10:03:11.6996904-05:00
Those things are worse than death to someone with a conscience. What character trait do you think landed them in there in the first place? Criminals are mentally different than you. What you claim to be worse is not necessarily so in their minds. At least with a death sentence you can be certain you are getting a life for a life in the case of murder. Rape doesnt even fall into this punishment category, so im not sure why it was brought up. Average sentence for rape is 11.8 yrs. Never a life sentence unless it was also linked with a murder or some other high crime.
blackkid says2015-05-22T10:07:59.0435538-05:00
I brought it up because serial rapists actually can and do get life sentences. Even murder isn't necessarily on average "for life", and furthermore the reason I used such a thing is because even in prison it's not well taken. There's no refuge for rapists, maybe murderers, but not rapists. Serial rapists get almost always put into solitary for their protection. Also, what does this have to do with being criminally minded? The person is innocent.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-22T10:30:05.2438874-05:00
Because the reason for the poll i suspect was to compare the two forms of punishment. They did a 1:2 ratio to have to weigh it in favor of life sentence even. It still doesnt seem to cut it. Having people be innocent or criminal should just be inversely proportional. As it stands now though its almost dead even in voting. That means people think 2 innocent lives in jail for life are worth 1 executed. It also means that 2 guilty people in jail for life is thought to be equal to 1 guilty person executed. That is simple proof that execution is not equal to jail, and is harsher, because of the unbalanced ratio used in the poll.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-22T10:33:43.2658792-05:00
@FreedomBeforeEquality. With such low numbers of people who voted on the poll, the results may not be accurate. Notice that two of the people who voted for no, did not understand the question. I think you might be the only person who voted no who did understand it.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-22T10:36:39.8180074-05:00
They had valid reasons. They voted no just stating that the reason for it was that the person in jail had an increased chance at a life again. This is true. This is just one reason why it isn't equal in measure to a more permanent solution, like the death sentence.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-22T10:37:46.2975217-05:00
Idk ... I guess we'll revisit the numbers later when more votes have been tallied. Maybe its too soon to say.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-22T10:55:06.9258145-05:00
@FreedomBeforeEquality. It is a given that the two people were not proved innocent till after their death. The two people voted on the assumption that they were given the sentence of life in prison and that they didn't already die in prison. But notice that the mind set there suffers from a double standard. They considered the one sentence of life in prison and the other one immediate execution. In reality both sentences have a large amount of time between sentence and death. The death penalty is shorter yet gets more funding in the appeals and case review, and still takes two decades if you use your appeals. Life in prison gives more time if you live longer than two decades, but less money is put into your case and appeals.
blackkid says2015-05-22T11:11:51.0155691-05:00
However this poll amuses me. They are both socially "dead". Their physical presence is, at best, meaningless. Rotting in a cell for years waiting to die is the same. One just gets to live longer wishing they could die is all.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-22T11:42:13.5753425-05:00
"One just gets to live longer wishing they could die is all." Only some people have that belief. I personally have a belief that living through horrible conditions is still better than dying. But I would rather die than force a person into those horrible conditions. Lets say I was one of the people in being convicted even though I was innocent. I either choose the left column and live two decades on death row, or I pick the right column and I live my full life in prison but another innocent person also has to live what is left of their life in prison.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-22T11:46:46.0808402-05:00
"They did a 1:2 ratio to have to weigh it in favor of life sentence even." The reason why I did the 1:2 ration is because much less money is used to review life in prison cases, thus more innocent people will end up there.
blackkid says2015-05-22T11:54:42.7603597-05:00
@MGJ Easy to say. Hard to face.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-22T11:58:48.3006392-05:00
@blackkid. Choosing between the two columns before I have received their punishment isn't very hard. Also I like to think that my morals wouldn't break down in bad situations.
blackkid says2015-05-22T12:22:13.3038640-05:00
Everyone likes to think their morals wouldn't falter. They're all wrong of course but that's why this is amusing.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-26T08:24:58.7472477-05:00
@Blackkid, not everyone's morals falter in bad situations, history shows that there are a delicate few that don't faulty in the face of death and destruction. But history also shows that there are those that you would think wouldn't falter but end up doing so. To hope that you are one of the ones who keep their morals is the best you can do. And I personally hope I am one of them.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-26T08:26:44.3839697-05:00
Anyways, I just notice something weird. I went back to retro gamer's source of supposed innocent people given the death penalty, and I went to its source and found something interesting.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-26T08:27:26.1306401-05:00
"The high rate of exoneration among death-sentenced defendants appears to be driven by the threat of execution, but most death-sentenced defendants are removed from death row and resentenced to life imprisonment, after which the likelihood of exoneration drops sharply. We use survival analysis to model this effect, and estimate that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely, at least 4.1% would be exonerated." http://www.pnas.org/content/111/20/7230
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-26T09:07:30.7606957-05:00
Exonerated because they didn't rate death by chair but did rate death by jail. Even the justice system distinguishes the punishments differently. They'd adjust the sentence to life in jail for fear of accidentally putting someone to death wrongfully. Another problem with life in jail is the persons age going into it. You could be giving a life in jail sentence comparably to a person who is 50 or 60 years old and commits a crime that rates 25 years only. They'd be essentially equal. His crime didnt rate "life in prison", but jail time has a cumulative effect to it where you could compile a bunch of low crimes into a 'death sentence'. That is not justice. No amount of petty crimes should ever be the equivalent of a death sentence. To look at life and prison as the same as the chair sets a bad precedent for sentencing. If they are looked at as equal ... A judge could make the call that your sentence extends past your conceivable lifespan and you should just be put to death on the spot. For compiled jail times. What would that look like ... People being put to death for property damage and such.
Mathgeekjoe says2015-05-26T09:16:14.0917141-05:00
@FreedomBeforeEquality, I personally have a belief that living through horrible conditions is still better than dying. But I would rather die than force a person into those horrible conditions. Lets say I was one of the people in being convicted even though I was innocent. I either choose the left column and live two decades on death row, or I pick the right column and I live my full life in prison but another innocent person also has to live what is left of their life in prison.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-26T09:31:15.1264413-05:00
Thats what i mean ... If it was 1:1 ... Just you in there ... Which would you chose? Because 2 people being in there for the price of 1 is throwing it off.
FreedomBeforeEquality says2015-05-26T09:32:28.4146961-05:00
And even then ... People have put it at 50/50 in the votes. So that would place more weight on the death sentence side of things even more so.

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