Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Prisoners' Dilemma

The problem, as I often tell my students, is that the fact that the PD has a dominant strategy is more determinative than they think.

The reason is that it does NOT depend on guilt or innocence. Think about it: knowing that I go free if I rat you out, but that I get the death penalty if you rat me out, has NOTHING to do with who did what, if in fact either of us did anything. Barring a joint defense, it's tough to resist.

The problem is that prosecutors don't care. A conviction means they win, and can get reelected. And then, to get parole, the guy has to admit guilt yet again, even if he is innocent.

Downside? Our prisons have a lot of innocent people in them, particularly the ones who can't afford real representation. A new book....

(Nod to Angry Alex)

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