Monday, September 24, 2007
Whenever there is a review of a legal proceedings or an extra step for law enforcement to follow when dealing with criminal matters, whether providing a private attorney to death row inmates or not accepting the testimony of a single witness to arrive at a guilty verdict, there is a decrease in the amount of "innocent" people convicted. However the greater result of these changes is that criminals found innocent at a much higher rate.
Remember, if we do not want to ever arrest and convict an innocent person the only way to ensure that outcome is to never arrest anyone. It is analogous to the speed limit. The speed limit is a simple calculation concerning how many deaths there will be verses how long it will take you to get to your chosen destination. We could make all speed limits 5mph and there would be very little deaths but it would take forever to get anywhere. On the reverse we could set the speed limit at 105mph and get there quick but we would be uncomfortable with the amount of deaths. So, for instance, 55mph was picked because we could get there in a time that was reasonable with the amount of deaths traveling at that speed will cause. It is the same with legal reform. How many innocent persons do you want to be convicted of a crime they did not convict verses the chances that the person who victimized you would be convicted.
I am not looking at any particular legal reform. However I never about the reverse of the coin when I hear about legal reforms like mandatory video taping of homicide confessions and the such. When a legal reform is mandated or procedures are tightened or increased they usually will keep less people from being wrongly convicted however it will greatly increase the chance of the guilty being found innocent. Where would your line be? Some changes are beneficial and needed but the whole affect should be considered rather than only one side of the equation.
Justice is due both to the innocent who is accused but also to the innocent that is the victim.