The other night, I watched 25th Hour , first time I've seen that flick in years. Highly recommended if you haven't seen it before, especially if you're an Edward Norton fan. The theme of the flick is that Norton's character is about to go to prison for quite a long time. The film is about the time immediately leading up to when he's supposed to surrender himself at the prison to start doing his time. Of course in the movie, Ed Norton is guilty, but it still made me think. If I was about to go to prison for 20 years for a crime I didn't commit and there seemed to be no chance of the conviction being overturned, what would I do? It's hard to say really, but if there were little to no chance of ever getting my conviction overturned and I was about to do 20 years, I would probably try and make a run for it.
Here are some conditions for our hypothetical poll:
a) You spent most of your life savings on the best attorneys money can buy, and it wasn't enough. You were convicted at trial and sentenced, and a mistrial or some other loophole isn't happening. You are going to prison. You may get exonerated at a later time, but your attorneys say that the likelihood of that ever happening is slim. You're done. The prison you'll be doing time in isn't maximum security but it isn't a resort, either. Additionally you're doing Federal time (assume you are in the U.S. for the purpose of this exercise) so early release or parole is not a possibility. You're doing all 20 years, at least. Maybe more if you get into trouble while inside.
b) You still have access to around $25,000 in cash that you could use to run and start a new life with. (You sold your car and all your stuff after the conviction.) Assume this is enough to get you out of the country and to whatever destination you choose, and enough to live on for a little while while you get settled and figure things out, try to get a job, stuff like that. Let's further say that post-trial, the judge gave you a week to get your affairs in order and turn yourself in. So you have some time before anyone notices you're missing.
c) If you elect to run, only you can go. You can't take any of your family, friends, or spouse with you. No pets either! Nothing from your former life that can identify you can be taken along.
d) If you run, you won't be able to see or speak to anyone you know for at least a few years. Maybe later on you can find a way to get a message to your loved ones and they can risk visiting you somewhere, but not for awhile. No contact of any kind, otherwise the authorities could track you down or even worse, lay some charges on your family for aiding a fugitive. You are truly alone.
What would you do?