This question “How many innocent people are in prison?” I got from my sister and believe me this is a loaded one of which I have no accurate way of knowing the answer to. But it made me think of two groups of individuals that I recently wrote about, white collar and drug offenders.
The stereotypical white collar inmate claims he is innocent, just like the stereotypical drug offender claims someone told on them. Both are completely guilty of pushing the blame off on someone else, struggling to except responsibility, and in most cases both are guilty of their charges or something close to it.
I often wonder if most or any of these inmates that proclaim their innocents are truly innocent or just feel they were simply convicted on weak evidence and therefore thought their conviction was unjust. Some common themes I hear from the white collar offenders is, they were naive or oblivious to the illegal activity that was going on around them, and I wonder if that is enough to make them innocent.
I also heard that they knew the people working around them were doing illegal activity but since the individuals themselves were not breaking the law, they decided not to do anything about it, and then in the end the ones that were breaking the law put the blame on them.
Others say they were simply the money in the operation and the people they loaned the money to not only stole everyone’s money, but stole theirs as well. And then left them with the indictment and they themselves were granted immunity from the government for their cooperation. So, most of them felt the wrong guy was in prison, and most of them spend most if not all of their prison time, filing appeals and law suits against the supposedly guilty parties.
I listen to their stories, without saying much, and some I actually believe but I have no way of knowing who is being truthful and who isn’t, but it amazes me how many are saying the same thing.
So is it a broken system how they are getting these white collar convictions? Are they simply just making sure someone goes to jail when money comes up missing and they don’t care who takes the time, or are they all full of crap?
I guess only God knows the answer.
As for drug offenders, myself included, most are guilty of illegal drug activity but in many cases the time doesn’t match the crime.
It’s amazing how many non-violent people are incarcerated for ten plus years for first time offenses. When I first came to prison I said to one fellow inmate, “I got ten years and they are handing that shit out like candy on Halloween“, and a guy my age who was in for the same thing said, “Man I wish I was there when they were handing out ten, they gave me twenty“.
It’s safe to say I never made that statement again.
Some people I feel sympathy for are drug users that get wrapped up in these big conspiracies, and find themselves doing five to ten years for being at the wrong place at the wrong time and because they didn’t cooperate they do the time like they are big time drug traffickers.
I guess it’s a big reason why we are in the predicament we are in with overcrowding prisons.
So, you ask yourself what do we do? Do we just let people go and reward them for bad behavior? Those are both questions I can’t answer, because many times I think I needed to do every bit of my ten years to get my head on straight, but I can’t help but to think there is a better way to have gotten to this same outcome without sitting in a prison. Are there innocent people in prison? I am sure there has to be, but I know one thing, if I would have been prosecuted for every shitty little thing I did in my life prior to sentencing, I probably should have received more then ten years, so I count my blessings.
From the inside,