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N Guilty Men Go Free


Jonah: I don’t know, I’ve never been in jail, or had much to do with that
system. I did once, though, back in the early 1980s in London, attend a
course with a guy who was changing career after many years in the prison
probation service. At conversation over lunch one day, I asked him what
proportion of people in jail were innocent. His answer shocked me: “Around
five percent.” He then added a qualifier: “However, that’s the proportion
innocent of the thing they were sent down for. They did something else
just as bad, but the police couldn’t nail them for it.” Well, then, I
asked, what proportion of the prison population is innocent, not only of
what they were convicted of, but of anything at all of equal gravity?” He
chewed on that one for a while. “Probably not zero, but pretty darn close.”


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