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Old 04-11-2012, 06:14 PM   #31
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Sorry guys. I let me emotions get the best of me and I spoke too harshly. I apologize if I offended you. I should have practiced restraint.
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Old 04-11-2012, 06:54 PM   #32
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Sorry guys. I let me emotions get the best of me and I spoke too harshly. I apologize if I offended you. I should have practiced restraint.
Tank - mate, you have nothing to apologise for. You always conduct yourself with decorum.
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Old 04-11-2012, 07:06 PM   #33
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Wow. I spent the last 20 years of my life behind these walls, I know what I am talking about. The food isnt better, they dont spend hours upon hours in a "gym" and the walls arent over flowing with the wrongfully convicted. I see the worst of the worst everyday, I am now in the courtrooms with them everyday now on their appeals,post conviction petitions,etc etc... I hear the gory details of each case and the facts presented to prove that conviction. The facts are brought before the jury, judge or between council in layman terms and when that isnt possible it, being the technical terminology, explained by an expert witness so that the layman can understand clearly. Unless you have spent time in law enforcement or the legal profession you have absolutely no clue to what is going on. Im not trying to be an ass but this is my life, I walk amongst the convicted. My apologies if I have offended anyone.
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Old 04-12-2012, 07:46 AM   #34
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Wow. I spent the last 20 years of my life behind these walls, I know what I am talking about. The food isnt better, they dont spend hours upon hours in a "gym" and the walls arent over flowing with the wrongfully convicted. I see the worst of the worst everyday, I am now in the courtrooms with them everyday now on their appeals,post conviction petitions,etc etc... I hear the gory details of each case and the facts presented to prove that conviction. The facts are brought before the jury, judge or between council in layman terms and when that isnt possible it, being the technical terminology, explained by an expert witness so that the layman can understand clearly. Unless you have spent time in law enforcement or the legal profession you have absolutely no clue to what is going on. Im not trying to be an ass but this is my life, I walk amongst the convicted. My apologies if I have offended anyone.
Hi Gaspers,

I just want to respond to the second part of your post, as I commented specifically on the possibility of wrongful conviction.

Just to be clear, I'm not disputing the following:

1) the vast majority of people behind bars have committed the crimes of which they are accused

2) The accuracy of convictions has improved.

3) That in the majority of cases, juries are in a good position to weigh up the evidence.


However, I'm sounding a more general note of caution about the judicial system and the belief that modern technology makes it almost entirely trustworthy. Here are my reasons:

1) Firstly, there is no way of independently verifying the number of wrongful convictions. If we had a universal video system that recorded every human action and could be rewound to observe every thought and action, from multiple perspectives, then we could. All we ever have are testimonies and evidence, and the opinions formed from these. I guess this is really a philosophical point, but maybe it's relevant because every age thinks that it's judicial system is near perfect - then the subsequent generation finds flaws with their evidence.

2) Jurors tend to give great credence to scientific evidence, but don't have the tools to think critically about that evidence. And expert witnesses get it wrong. The first cases to spring to mind are those of 'Shaken Baby Syndrome', where quite a few parents were convicted of shaking their infant children to death. However, it turns out that there are a number of medical conditions that can produce similar symptoms, and a substantial number of convictions were overturned in the US, Canada and the UK. A British pathologist (I forget the name) famously represented the odds of two babies dying within the same family as being very, very low - and secured convictions on that basis -but that was highly misleading.

Point is that most people think that things can be 'scientifically proven' and in the notion of 'scientific fact' - which is a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works.

3) Convictions that seemed incredibly safe in the 1970s were overturned in the 1980s, those in the 1990s were overturned in the 2000s - and so on. To give one example of this, the prison time served by people wrongly convicted on eye witness testimony totals 3,800 years (average 13.5 years). This is just in the US, just cases turned on the basis of DNA evidence, and just since 2000 (see here. So it seems reasonable to think that the same pattern of overturning convictions will follow in the future.

No technology, including DNA evidence and CCTV footage, is infallible.

No one, including me, disrespects your personal experience or your commitment to a job which must be extremely demanding. However, I question the idea that only somone working within the system can have a valid opinion on it.

Interesting subject.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:30 AM   #35
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Tann, everyone can have an opinion on anything. Gaspers experience on the "inside" should indicate that his opinion based on actual experience should carry more weight than any uninformed opinion. Hence the reasoning that the only time an opinion can be given in a trial is by someone deamed an "expert" by the court. I have testified on numerous occasions in criminal trials as an "expert". I gave my opinion and the jury takes that into consideration. Have there been wrongfully convicted. Yes, unfortunately, but our criminal justice system is only as good as the people sitting in the jury box. Many,many,many more people are "let go" from crimes they did commit than are wrongfully convicted. I've seen people walk out of a courtroom a free person when I KNOW they commited the crime. The jury does not always get to see/hear all of the evidence. In my 25+ years in law enforcement, I know of only 1 case where a person that I arrested, may have been innocent and he plead guilty to a lesser charge to avoid a prison sentence.


The thread was started with the question if convicts should be allowed weight rooms/gyms in prison. In my opinion, no.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:38 AM   #36
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I wouldn't dispute that technology has improved the likelihood of getting it right. At the same time, I think it would be naive to place too much trust in technology.
I would agree, it's certainly not infallible. With that said, we have made leaps and bounds in the world of technology. In the past, so many men and women were convicted based on unreliable "eye witness" testimony. That type of "evidence" can be skewed in so many ways, it's scary. With the technological advances we have today, scientific evidence -- or lack thereof -- should and does play a huge role in convicting the right person. Definitely not a black and white issue, though.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:40 AM   #37
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Tann, everyone can have an opinion on anything. Gaspers experience on the "inside" should indicate that his opinion based on actual experience should carry more weight than any uninformed opinion. Hence the reasoning that the only time an opinion can be given in a trial is by someone deamed an "expert" by the court. I have testified on numerous occasions in criminal trials as an "expert". I gave my opinion and the jury takes that into consideration. Have there been wrongfully convicted. Yes, unfortunately, but our criminal justice system is only as good as the people sitting in the jury box. Many,many,many more people are "let go" from crimes they did commit than are wrongfully convicted. I've seen people walk out of a courtroom a free person when I KNOW they commited the crime. The jury does not always get to see/hear all of the evidence. In my 25+ years in law enforcement, I know of only 1 case where a person that I arrested, may have been innocent and he plead guilty to a lesser charge to avoid a prison sentence.


The thread was started with the question if convicts should be allowed weight rooms/gyms in prison. In my opinion, no.
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:46 AM   #38
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Tann, everyone can have an opinion on anything. Gaspers experience on the "inside" should indicate that his opinion based on actual experience should carry more weight than any uninformed opinion. Hence the reasoning that the only time an opinion can be given in a trial is by someone deamed an "expert" by the court. I have testified on numerous occasions in criminal trials as an "expert". I gave my opinion and the jury takes that into consideration. Have there been wrongfully convicted. Yes, unfortunately, but our criminal justice system is only as good as the people sitting in the jury box. Many,many,many more people are "let go" from crimes they did commit than are wrongfully convicted. I've seen people walk out of a courtroom a free person when I KNOW they commited the crime. The jury does not always get to see/hear all of the evidence. In my 25+ years in law enforcement, I know of only 1 case where a person that I arrested, may have been innocent and he plead guilty to a lesser charge to avoid a prison sentence.
Ryan,

I agree with most of what you've said, especially on your assertion that many more guilty people go free than innocent people are convicted. Absolutely. And I am not rubbishing the justice system.

As you point out, however, the criminal justice system is only as good as the jury. My point is that the jury aren't necessarily that good when it comes specifically to interpreting expert evidence, especially scientific evidence. Many juries in the US and UK found the baby-shakers guilty; many of those convictions have been quashed. The juries put too much faith in the scientific evidence they were presented with. Isolated cases? Maybe, but the point stands.

On the subject of personal experience and validity, well, that's an interesting discussion. Now for me, I've got 23 years experience in education. If someone tries to tell me about the fine print of working in education, my opinion is based on first hand knowledge of what that is like, unlike theirs.

However, if an outsider to my profession finds out that 65% of people working in education have terrible fashion sense and his sources seem good, and his argument is clear, then the fact that he isn't from inside education doesn't make his opinion invalid. I can respond 'Well, I've worked within education for 23 years, and everyone I've ever worked with was gorgeously dressed', but then, I'm only speaking from a detailed but tiny section of the world. His lack of detailed knowledge of my section of the world doesn't make his argument invalid - that needs to be considered on its own merits.

So while I defer to your and Gasper's decades of actual experience within the system, broader issues of how justice works, or more philosophical questions, are open to anyone. So my baby-shakers case, for example, is either a valid or invalid point. It's independent of whether I'm a cop, a criminal or a tree-surgeon.
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:52 AM   #39
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I have a related prison-related discussion I would like to get Ryan and Gasper's views on, but I'll start another thread for that one this evening.

I'm dragging this gyms in prison issue up a side street.
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