Acquitted but not necessarily innocent
Posted October 23, 2007on:
We mentioned a while back that the way politicians’ reputations are besmirched by allegations of misconduct coudl be due to the mistaken recollections of their constituents. Of course, there are rational reasons to mistrust politicians who are investigated for misconduct too, as Stuart Armstrong points out:
more guilty people get tried and acquitted than the average of the population. So … the trial is evidence of guilt – noisy evidence, but evidence none the less.
So, barring a complete exoneration (rather than a mere acquittal) perhaps I am silly to have faith in people who’ve been tried for crimes or misconduct. Our justice system is designed to prevent the conviction of the innocent, rather than preventing the acquittal of the guilty. As such we should expect that far fewer people are wrongly convicted than are wrongly acquitted. Given that there are a reasonable number of convictions overturned in light of later evidence, it must be that plenty of those acquitted are guilty of what they are accused of. They can’ t be punished but that doesn’t make them innocent, and our beliefs should rationally reflect that.