Torture. The innocent.

Concurring Opinions describes Why the Innocent Are Punished More Harshly Than the Guilty in the criminal ‘justice’ system.

The keys issues focus on the idea that pleading guilty is good. That puts pressure on the innocent to proclaim their guilt to relieve pressure and reduce punishment. Federal sentencing guidelines call this an “acceptance of responsibility” and many jurisdictions use this idea as a means of arranging a plea deal to reduce the costs of trial.

These factors lead to the rather perverse outcome that defendants who are innocent are punished more harshly than the guilty. The innocent defendant faces a terrible choice — either falsely admit guilt, in exchange for a lighter punishment, or defend his or her innocence but pay dearly if he or she loses. Innocent defendants are probably much more likely to choose the latter strategy. Timothy Cole turned down a plea deal for probation because he didn’t want to confess to a crime he didn’t commit. That’s a decision made on principle, one that an innocent person might very well make but rather unusual for a guilty person to make.

It is fortunate that not many innocent are subjected to this but it is a tragedy, both for the innocent and for society, when it does happen. It is a torture because it leaves permanent emotional scars and destroys lives. It illustrates how a values are corrupted by well meaning practice that has unintended effects. collateral damage, that was not properly considered.

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