Hundred guilty Vs. Single innocent

Let a hundred guilty escape but let not one innocent be punished. This is the philosophy behind the multiple checks and balances in the legal system of many countries.

However, this has enabled many clever and resourceful criminals escape the punishment for their crimes. People criticize this as a weak philosophy and question the consequences of letting a criminal go free. What if they escape and commit more crimes against more people? Who is to blame for this? Sounds logically sound. In fact it makes one wonder if a person needs to be proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt to be convicted. Should a person be treated as innocent until proven guilty or as guilty until proven innocent.

Let us assume we have a tougher system. Would it prevent the devious minds to help the resourceful (in monetary terms or in terms of power) escape? One cannot conclusively say. But there is another small detail we miss when we think emotionally in these matters. Let us say an innocent is convicted (which is acceptable in this tough system once in a while). Is the guilty not escaping again? So it is a double whammy - an innocent is convicted and a guilty is let free.

Then comes the point of inducing fear in people against committing a crime. So by reducing the loopholes in the system and being strict people commit fewer crimes. People cite examples of how traffic is more orderly in developed countries due to fear of losing license. Indeed, but here it is just a case of the systems being centralized and stricter with fewer chances of bribing and getting away. Can the same be extended to crimes that really affect peoples’ lives? Very doubtful. There would be better executed crimes with more planning and in fact, it might become a profitable business to counsel on committing a crime right.

A legal system being stronger or weaker might just depend on the ethics of the custodians of the system - judges and lawyers, not on the philosophy of the system. The day lawyers decide to stop fighting cases of real culprits would be the day when fear of committing a crime be induced in the public. But the opposite is what makes legal profession so lucrative - the cleverness to help a person escape no matter whether he is guilty or innocent.