“It is better that ten guilty person escape, than that one innocent suffer.” – William Blackstone
Sir William Blackstone was a great England jurist; he lived from 1723-1780. The man had a brilliant legal mind and much of what he wrote influenced what we in America and in the Commonwealth Nations call the “common law’.
It is his influence that established the rule of it being necessary for a jury to find a person accused of a criminal act to be found guilty “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” . This is based upon our societal concept that one of the most horrible mistakes which we can make as a people, as a government, as a society is that an innocent person be sent to prison. If the risk is that any one of us, as an innocent person, can be deprived of our liberty then, “It is better that ten guilty persons go free, than that one innocent person suffer.” The bar for finding someone accused a crime must be high, not because they deserve some special treatment, but to prevent the evil of sending an innocent person to prison.