If television police procedurals (or the first episode of the show “Making a Murderer”) have taught us anything, it is that occasionally, during a criminal investigation, the police may be certain that they have the correct person in custody for a crime, causing them to stop investigating other leads.
So the underlying problem is:
- There is a great degree of certainty that a specific suspect is in fact guilty
- There is incentive to obtain a conviction
Which may lead to:
- Bending the rules (or brutalizing a suspect) to gather evidence or secure a conviction.
After all, if a person is certain that they have apprehended a deadly murderer, there is a certain appeal to bending the rules to ensure a conviction. But 1) this is technically not allowed, and 2) the apprehended person is occasionally innocent.
But this can be addressed with the following modification to the criminal justice system:
But what if the suspect was not at all clearly guilty? Or what if there were 4 possible suspects, only one of whom could possibly have committed the crime, but all with substantial amounts of evidence pointing toward them?
So the specific proposal here is a variant of the police lineup:
- When an individual is about to be arrested for a crime…
- A special branch of investigation, the “Fabricated Evidence Bureau” (“F.E.B.”) will now ALSO arrest 3 additional randomly-chosen citizens from the same approximate “suspect” demographic (e.g. sex, ethnicity, nationality, educational background, etc…), and falsely charge them with the same crime.
- Then, the F.E.B. will fabricate evidence implicating these 3 definitely-innocent individuals in the crime as well.
- Only after this process is done will the suspects be turned over to the “real” police, who will now be uncertain of which (if any) of the suspects is actually guilty.
- But the actual police will know for certain that at least 3 of their suspects have been falsely accused, and will thereby be more likely to follow the due process of law.
People might object to the idea of systematically accusing innocent individuals of heinous crimes on purpose, but this could be seen as just part of the cost of a modern society, much like jury duty or compulsory military service.
This idea would revolutionize the justice system and, more importantly, might make a good TV show.
PROS: Reduces the stigma of being falsely accused of a crime. May lead to better investigation of crimes.
CONS: Probably increases legal system costs and prison / jail overcrowding.