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Database Finds Fugitive After 35 Years

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the can-run-but-cannot-hide dept.

The Courts 459

Hugh Pickens writes "The Guardian has a story on a woman who was claims she is innocent and was apprehended 35 years after escaping prison by a computer database created by the Department of Homeland Security. Linda Darby was convicted of killing her husband in 1970 and sentenced to life at an Indiana prison but escaped two years later by climbing over a barbed-wire fence at the Indiana Women's Prison. She knocked on a stranger's door in Indianapolis, telling the woman who answered that her cuts and scratches were from a fight with her boyfriend. In Indianapolis she met the man who would become her third husband and moved to his hometown of Pulaski, where they raised their two children and watched eight grandchildren grow up. As Linda Jo McElroy, she used a similar date of birth and social security number to her real ones which allowed a computer database created by the Department of Homeland Security to identify her. Darby says she is innocent and fled prison because she did not want to serve time for another person's crime."

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Firt post!! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223127)

At last ... firt post for thr first time in my life!

Re:Firt post!! (4, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223161)

We'll let you have it this time, but in the future please remember that you must claim "frist psot" if you want to be properly recognized for your achievement.

Re:Firt post!! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223529)

Wow, since you are this lucky why not go out and try to earn yourself a Darwin Award, I'm sure you will win one for sure.

Of course... (2, Insightful)

azuredrake (1069906) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223129)

Of course, even if she was innocent of murder, she's now guilty of whatever charge Indiana has on its books for escaping from prison...

Re:Of course... (5, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223191)

There's an additional punishment for escaping prison?

Our law defines the attempt to escape (or succeeding) as following the basic human urge to be free, thus not punishable by law.

Of course, what happens is that any chance you had for parole is gone. But there's no additional punishment for breaking out.

Re:Of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223347)

Where does your law stand on the basic human urge to steal your neighbor's underwear?

Seriously though that sounds unusually enlightened. Where are you from?

Re:Of course... (3, Informative)

lobStar (1103461) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223663)

Dunno where he's from, but that applies to Sweden. Here you are usually given parole after 2/3 of the prison time (if you behaved well in prison etc), but of course fleeing removes that chance. It is however proposed by some politicians that it should be punishable.

Re:Of course... (3, Informative)

durdur (252098) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223355)

Escape, and attempted escape is a crime, at least in California, and can result in additional prison time. (I would be surprised if any state did not have similar laws). But of course if you were already in for life, you can't get additional time.

Re:Of course... (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223455)

But of course if you were already in for life, you can't get additional time.
They could make it consecutive and it could make a difference for purposes of when she could be paroled.

Of course, in this situation it probably wouldn't make much difference, since she is so old now and only served 2 years of her sentence after her conviction.

Re:Of course... (1)

sweede (563231) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223643)

It would also change where the offender is imprisoned and the type of activities they can participate in while in prison.

Re:Of course... (2, Informative)

Squalish (542159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223369)

Google says:
Mexico's law does that, but escaping from [certain] US prisons will draw charges and if convicted, tack a few years onto your sentence.

Re:Of course... (4, Interesting)

Squalish (542159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223389)

And I quite like Mexico's philosophy on the policy [pulitzer.org]

Re:Of course... (2, Insightful)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223515)

Their policy is insane and dangerous. Why do rapists and psychopaths deserve freedom at the expense of the safety of others?

Re:Of course... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223631)

I don't think that's relevant, the point is when caught they won't face extra charges for escaping. See? That wasn't so hard, was it? Thinking can be fun.

Re:Of course... (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223431)

Wow, doesn't really matter if you have to sit in jail for the rest of your live, does it?

Re:Of course... (2, Informative)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223393)

In my state, a person convicted of a felony who escapes from prison can be charged with the crime of Escape. If they are then convicted of the escape, they can be sentenced up to an additional ten years.

If "basic human urges" could not be punished, prostitution would be legal in every state.

Re:Of course... (0, Flamebait)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223409)

We have it like that as well in my country, and it's fucking stupid. By the same logic, rape is following the basic urge to have sex, and thus shouldn't be punishable by law. Same shit about creating a crazy and incredibly dangerous getaway run, as long as you're not assaulting the officer trying to arrest you. Throw the book at them for creating the chase in the first place and accessories to whatever damage/injuries/deaths they cause, even if it's caused by chasing police cars I say. Oddly enough, perjury is still punished strictly even if you're trying to lie your way out of jail, thus following the "urge to be free". Oh yeah and the real kicker - around here if you escape and stay hidden for the reminder of your sentence, they won't put you back in jail because if you have broken no new laws, they can't hold you for "longer" even though you haven't been actually been in prison. Not that they'll stay long in prison anyway, a former classmate of mine got convicted of murder two after stabbing a guy 15-20 times - sentenced to nine years, spent 4.5 years in a mental institution before they let him out. And Norway has some of them most cozy hotel-like prisons I've ever seen - obviously it's a prison but you have most comforts...

Are you smoking crack? (2, Insightful)

ubuwalker31 (1009137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223423)

When you are convicted by a jury in the United States of a felony, you loose a number of rights by operation of law. You loose your right to freedom by having to go to jail, you loose your right to hold property, by having to compensate the victim and the state, and often, your right to vote. The reason why this is "ok" is because you lost these rights after "due process of law".

Escaping from jail is a serious criminal offense with serious additional penalties. There is no statute of limitation concerns because it is an ongoing crime...the statute would start to run after recapture, however.

Re:Are you smoking crack? (2, Informative)

deftcoder (1090261) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223589)

When talking about things related to the law, it may help to be a bit more articulate in your speech.

'Loose' = the opposite of 'tight', 'to lose' = the opposite of 'to win' or 'to gain'.

Other than that, good post.

Re:Are you smoking crack? (1)

NekSnappa (803141) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223707)

It's only felony convictions that cause you to lose such rights. even though some aspects are being reconsidered in some places.

http://www.abanet.org/irr/hr/winter04/felon.html

Re:Of course... (1)

Descalzo (898339) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223465)

Our law defines the attempt to escape (or succeeding) as following the basic human urge to be free, thus not punishable by law.

That's cool. Our law defines the attempt to murder (or succeeding) as following the basic human urge to remove scum from the face of the earth, thus not punishable by law.

Re:Of course... (1)

lobStar (1103461) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223731)

The big difference is that you don't hurt anyone. There are a few crimes which don't hurt anyone, such as prostitution, and these are very controversial. The motivation is usually that they brings some kind of "collateral damage". I guess, in the case of escaping this ground is not deemed enough.

Re:Of course... (0, Flamebait)

sweede (563231) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223623)

Why the OP was moderated at +3 or +4 informative, i have no clue because the above poster is retarded and knows nothing of the court system.

Having been on the other side of the bench several times myself, there is most certainly a penalty for avoiding or escaping your punishment as determined by the court of law.

In this case, the offender was found guilty of premeditated murder, the most serious crime in the country. She escaped her punishment and while she already served a life sentence, if she had been caught, her chance for parole would have been denied completly. So she escaped, became a felony fugitive and most likely on the FBIs most wanted list. 35 years later she is caught.

I don't see the problem here ?

Sure, she might be all nice and peachy now, but that doesnt make her any less of a convicted murderer. It doesnt make her any less of a fugitive.

Her only hope now is that the court system finds that since she has not commited a single crime in the past 35 years that they can consider her no longer a threat to society and instead serve a minimum punishment for escaping prison.

Re:Of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223357)

There's a fairly good chance that the statute of limitations has run out on that one.

Re:Of course... (1)

sweede (563231) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223703)

felony murder has no statute of limitations. Escaping prison and not serving your time as oppointed by the courts has no statute of limitations.

Our government finally does something right (4, Funny)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223131)

The country is now safe from terrorist grandmothers!

Re:Our government finally does something right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223217)

At 64 she remains perfectly capable of killing her new husband, so her danger to society is hardly reduced.

Re:Our government finally does something right (4, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223305)

At 64 she remains perfectly capable of killing her new husband, so her danger to society is hardly reduced.
Correct, but was this danger to society great enough to justify all the new government powers that have been set up after 2001? If this is the best the DHS can do, then where does that put the cost to benefit ratio?

Re:Our government finally does something right (5, Insightful)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223263)

So, the REVENGE is complete.
She managed to live as a productive citizen, have kids, and pay taxes -- but now at 65, the genius database that is going to let no small-time criminal get away has caught her. This is just sad. I don't think any of us really want a perfect tracking system -- we want good enough justice and better courts.

I remember that my brother used to mess around with drugs in high school. He never got caught, but had some "therapy" when my parents found out. They don't have this for poor people -- they just go to jail. Now my brother makes over $250,000 and runs the SouthEaster division of some big company -- a productive citizen. If the system had caught him, he'd be an unemployable deadbeat, and probably dealing with depression and recidivism like all the other folks. We like to think that we are different -- but opportunity makes a HUGE difference to your outcomes in life.

I'm glad when some mass murderer gets caught -- but I'm not so sure about this lady. Her life is over -- innocent or not. And it won't help anyone but to keep the employment of prison guards up. Do you know these mega-prisons have lobbyists now and that's where we got most of the push for mandatory sentences and 3 strikes and you are out?

Murder = OK? Are you kidding? (4, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223307)

the genius database that is going to let no small-time criminal get away has caught her. This is just sad.


So basically you are saying murder is OK. Wow. Innocent until proven guilty but that takes some really... interesting thinking to claim that murder is somehow forgivable.

Re:Murder = OK? Are you kidding? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223377)

And if she were railroaded and falsely convicted of the murder as she claims? Doesn't an innocent person deserve to live free? Isn't an innocent person entirely justified in escaping from a penal system which has erroneously imprisoned her because she had a shitty defense counsel? Or are you one of those law and order types that worship at the alter of State Authority, and who believes that it never wrongly convicts people?

Re:Murder = OK? Are you kidding? (2, Insightful)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223429)

Or are you just one of those tools who think everybody in innocent just because they say so. She was convicted by a jury of her peers.

Re:Murder = OK? Are you kidding? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223583)

I vote he's a tool.

Re:Murder = OK? Are you kidding? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223659)

"She was convicted by a jury of her peers."

Jesus, I sincerely hope you get to face one of those one day.. Because juries are the pinnacle of intelligence, can't be mislead, deceived or swayed by irrelevant stuff, right? Just face it, it's a lottery as much as anything, especially if you can't afford a good defense.

convictions (1)

jefu (53450) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223685)

Seems to me I've been reading a lot recently about people who have been convicted and then found to be innocent (in various ways). There are a bunch of factors here - many prosecutors gain (promotions, publicity...) from convictions, so it is in their interest to convict people - and a dubious conviction is probably better than no conviction. (Not saying that they do it deliberately, though some probably do, more that they convince themselves that the person is really guilty - perhaps even unconsciously.) Often, once the justice system has a good candidate for a crime they focus more on convicting that person than looking for other possibilities. Witnesses are often mistaken. Lots of times people who cannot afford good legal representation get convicted just on that factor.

I don't know anything about this particular case, but the implication that anyone convicted by a jury is really guilty seems unlikely.

Re:Our government finally does something right (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223281)

Oh, give me a break. You can discuss if this is a wise use of money or helps against terrorists, but if as a side effect an escaped murderer is caught and brought to justice, why are you trying to spin that as a bad thing? I really couldn't care less if she's been a saint since she escaped or if she claims to be innocent - a jury of her peers, after hearing all the evidence, found her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It's not exactly terribly creative to claim you escaped because you're innocent, you know. I want fugitives, whereever they may be and however long time has passed, to fear that some day they'll be found out and brought to justice. Within a reasonable balance of catching them, bringing them to trial and making sure they don't escape in the first place, that is.

Re:Our government finally does something right (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223333)

There is nothing wrong with capturing escaped murders. The problem is a lack of results with respect to the claimed purpose of the system.

You may think that solving a few cold cases here and there justifies the loss of civil liberties and expansion of government power that created this story, but I doubt you will find universal consensus for that view.

Re:Our government finally does something right (2, Informative)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223717)

I want fugitives, whereever they may be and however long time has passed, to fear that some day they'll be found out and brought to justice. Within a reasonable balance of catching them, bringing them to trial and making sure they don't escape in the first place, that is.
I want all crimes except genocide or crimes against humanity to expire in 20 years tops. "Fugitives" are humans most of all and if they managed to keep themselves out of the hands of law enforcement for 20 years and didn't commit any crime apart from the one that expired (and I would say jailbreak is not a continous but singular event), then you can say that pursuing those crimes is probably a colossal waste of money and time.

What would be the justification for not allowing crimes to lapse? It is hardly a deterrent, to say that if I didn't catch you for 20 years, I will try and catch you later. The single fact that this woman was caught so late and it makes the news is an indication of how rare this event is. However, in 20 years or more worldviews, laws, court practice changes and people change. If someone committed a crime 20 years ago, but has lived a law abiding life since (apart from being a fugitive of course), then I see no reason why to waste money and resources, plus ruin a person's life. "Justice" is not about revenge: it should be about rehabilitation and deterring people from committing crimes.

Revenge would dictate to haul someone's ass back into prison whenever they are caught, but that serves no purpose whatsoever apart from revenge. I say, that if 20 years from now on someone is still free and there is no record of him ever committing a crime again, we should just let him/her enjoy his freedom. The law enforcement failed here and a crime is not the most defining quality of a human being, so why should we be punishing someone much later in his life - just because the law enforcement failed to do it's duty and apprehend him/her?

Re:Our government finally does something right (1)

The -e**(i*pi) (1150927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223373)

What I want to know is why is the department of home land security looking for escaped criminals? I *thought they were here to protect us from terrorists, not normal people? *thought seemed liek the word to use, however I don't really think I thought that.

Re:Our government finally does something right (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223487)

Escaped criminals are not 'normal people.'

Re:Our government finally does something right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223523)

Is no one else shocked that a database is being used to search our own citizens (irregardless of the crime)?

Department of Homeland Defense. Keeping America safe from other Americans since March 1, 2003.

matching ids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223139)

As Linda Jo McElroy, she used a similar date of birth and social security number to her real ones which allowed a computer database created by the Department of Homeland Security to identify her.
and still it took 35 years to find her?

Re:matching ids (5, Funny)

edittard (805475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223157)

Don't be harsh - have you never written a query in such a way that it didn't use the indexes correctly?

P.S. Why is /. using the wheelbarrow symbol for database?

Re:matching ids (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223265)

> Why is /. using the wheelbarrow symbol for database?

What is missing from the wheelbarrow is a huge pile of steaming bull poop.

Re:matching ids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223267)

have you never written a query in such a way that it didn't use the indexes correctly?

No, clippy f@#%ed it up when I dragged and dropped the link.

Re:matching ids (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223341)

P.S. Why is /. using the wheelbarrow symbol for database?
Because a database isn't like a dump truck?

Re:matching ids (1)

obarel (670863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223293)

Linear search sucks.

Because of privacy rules (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223399)

"Papers please." Americans never want to here these words. But even as far back as 1972, scholars of civil rights were aware of the dangers posed by compulsory provision of social security numbers. The uniqueness property of the SS numbers are so useful, it was quickly becoming necessary to use the number to transact a great deal of government and even private business.

At least it used to be that the FBI couldn't troll through every database the government had, looking for people. The idea was that people don't have a choice about providing their SS number and other information that personally identifies them, so that this information should not be requested unless there was a clear reason to collect it, and should never be used except for that purpose.

False Positives (1)

Grandiloquence (1180099) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223151)

I guess the real question is, since the program they were using apparently looks for things that are similar to known criminals, how many innocent people were fingered in the attempt to track down a 64-year old woman? I bet we'll never hear about them until long after we're gone...

Re:False Positives (2, Insightful)

Descalzo (898339) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223695)

What I'm interested in hearing about is the people who were arrested. Not fingered. We'll NEVER hear about all the people who were fingered, because fingering is not really a bad thing.

Well, maybe I'm being harsh. You should explain what exactly you mean by being "fingered" and what's wrong with it, and why we should be up in arms about it.

Give her a break! (3, Funny)

Funkcikle (630170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223159)

The authorities should focus on finding the one-armed man.

Re:Give her a break! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223173)

Nah ... they killed off the one-armed man in the final episode, if I am remembering correctly.

Re:Give her a break! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223179)

Given their efficiency, they'd start the search in Las Vegas.

Has she offended since? (1)

twenty3inhouse (1123651) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223229)

I'd say if she hasn't re-offended then, who cares. (shrugs)

Re:Has she offended since? (1)

cpaalman (696554) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223259)

Interesting logic, please don't run for any office.

Re:Has she offended since? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223715)

Depends why you believe we lock people up. The possibilities, as far as I can tell, are (or some combination of):

1- To prevent further crimes (pragmatically realizing you can't undo what was done) -- the grandparent post makes sense.
2- To extract revenge for what was done (believing that the victims will feel better if they know the perpetrator has suffered as well) -- your post makes sense.
3- To act as a deterend (believing this actually works for cases like this).

As to who makes sense for this last one is a bit up in the air. I lean towards thinking the grandparent post makes sense in this case as well. If the punishment enters into a persons head at all (i.e., it is not committed in an act or rage or otherwise non-thinking state), I would imagine they are way more likely to delude themselves with the belief that they will not get caught than that they will just commit this one crime, get caught, escape, avoid the system for the next several decades while living a perfect life, and then get off as a grandparent when the system finally catches up with them for having lived the aforementioned perfect life.

That leaves us with the conclusion that you are the type of person who believes in revenge for revenges sake, or, you simply have not thought about your beliefs (likely having adopted an opinion on the matter before the age of twelve, or so, when you develop an ability to filter beliefs before absorbing them). I would suspect the latter, so I ask, what do you think, when you actually stop and think about it, is the purpose and a good reason for locking people up (and if it is number two, do you believe it works, and why)?

Re:Has she offended since? (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223315)

Her first husband's family and her original kids may feel differently about the matter.

If she manages to avoid going back to prison, she can get together with OJ and look for the real killer.

Re:Has she offended since? (5, Interesting)

Elemenope (905108) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223343)

(Bracing for the bitchslaps...)

You know, this is what drives me crazy about how our justice system deals with murder. On the long list of crimes ranked by recidivism rates, murder ranks very near the bottom. Except for the few sociopaths who see murder as acceptable means for financial or personal gain, and the even fewer number who kill to indulge a predatory instinct or because it's just fun for them, the vast majority of murders are very obviously one-time affairs. Most murderers are far less of a continuing threat to society than, say, rapists and molesters.

So, why do we impose the heaviest sentences for murder, regardless of circumstance, heavier than those crimes that indicate a far more sociopathic personality, if the justice system is first and foremost about protecting society and its interests?

Re:Has she offended since? (4, Insightful)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223503)

Because a life sentence for murder is actually a very reasonable deterrent. Remember that almost all murder is done in a premeditated manner (otherwise it would be manslaughter (I'm in the UK)). There are some crimes where you are right, and it is not productive to attach a lengthy jail term as a deterrent (drug use, theft/robbery/burglary etc) but with murder is not one of them.

Murder is the most serious crime, and if you neither attach a jail sentence (to deter) nor a therapy/rehab course (which is pointless because murder, as you said, has a tiny recidivism rate) you aren't actually attaching any judicial response, and murder ceases to be criminal behaviour.

I understand your frustration at the seemingly fruitless punishment for murder (and you are correct; it serves no purpose for the betterment of the convicted), but having a long jail sentence for murder actually does serve society: by deterring murder.

Re:Has she offended since? (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223531)

Um, because victims can survive pretty much every other crime than murder? Once someone is dead, they're gone, and both society and the state have a vested interest in keeping people alive as long as possible. So punishments for murder are more severe than for other crimes on the theory that those punishments will have a deterrence effect.

Now, whether that works or not is a completely different debate, but that's not what you asked.

Re:Has she offended since? (1)

Elemenope (905108) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223677)

...the state have a vested interest in keeping people alive as long as possible.

I'm not trying to be an ass, but this is one hell of an assumption. I can think of a few half-baked reasons why this might be true, but then again in many ways the state itself doesn't act as if this is so. Is it a matter of resources invested?

Lay the argument on me, I'm honestly interested.

Re:Has she offended since? (1)

Rufty (37223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223645)

Prison is meant to serve 3 purposes:
1) Vengance. (What's justice but a moderation of revenge to sane levels?)
2) Protection. (It's hard to do a crime when you're doing time. And deterrence is protection, too.)
3) Rehabilitation. ('Nuf said.)
Sometimes these conflict. In the case of murder, usually society needs protection from future offenders, rather than past ones. So the terms for murderers are long as a deterrence.
In the case of this granny, deterrence is weakened if someone is seen to "get away with it".

Re:Has she offended since? (2, Insightful)

peektwice (726616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223655)

73% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

Recidivism is low among convicted murderers because they often spend the rest of their lives in prison.

I've got no sympathy for this woman just because she says "It wasn't me!". That's the excuse kids use every time they get caught doing something they shouldn't. However, most outgrow it.

Murder however, is a capital offense, and the argument doesn't wash. Obviously the jury agrees.

Re:Has she offended since? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223657)

Because murder deprives another person of their life! Think deeply about that for a few minutes.

Re:Has she offended since? (4, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223675)

Have you ever thought that the heavy sentences for murder are what keep the recidivism rate low? After all, it's kind of hare to commit a second murder while in jail.

Also, as you say, vast majority of murders are by people the victim knew. Ever think that the heavy sentences keep others from committing murder?

Sentences are for multiple reasons. Rehabilitation, Punishment and Deterrence. Rehabilitation so the person does not do it again. Punishment for their crime. Deterrence to keep others from committing the same crime.

Re:Has she offended since? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223699)

Its not just punishment. Its the deterrent too. If there were no consequences everybody would be doing it.

What is the real issue here ? (5, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223235)

On the face of it she was found guilty of murder and compounded that by absconding from prison. She claims that she is innocent, but she would say that any way. There is no way that the armchair sleuths on slashdot can come to any realisitic determination of the truth. I fully appreciate that 'the law' is on occasion incorectly applied ... but that is another story.

What is interesting is that we have this story probably flagged up by the authorities. I suspect that it is to make us think that the ''big government databases'' are a good thing and that we should approve their continued use. What is buried are the stories where these databases have screwed up and inconvenienced (or worse) innocent people.

Re:What is the real issue here ? (5, Insightful)

Large Green Mallard (31462) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223297)

The databases were created to stop terrorism. If they're being used to chase down anyone the government wants for anything, it's another step toward a police state.

Re:What is the real issue here ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223485)

Pretty sad that the Slashdot gets its thrills out of seeing others fail (MS, U.S. Government, Corporations or just some guy failing because he didn't agree with the socialist around here) and the type of crowd who generally don't like to accomplish anything in their lives but whine on the internet.

Re:What is the real issue here ? (1, Interesting)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223649)

Since she lived 35 years without committing crimes (let alone murder), I think she's innocent. Your actions are who you are.

Surprised at what you might find (4, Interesting)

Sanat (702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223247)

Back in the 80's I was setting up a call center for the computer company where I worked and one of the steps was to search for duplicate serial numbers and standardize model numbers, customer names, etc. I'm sure anyone who worked with databases understands this process.

Our databases were regional, so while searching for duplicates a whole computer system suddenly disappeared from the Northeast and mysteriously showed up in Florida. I started researching thinking that the system perhaps was stolen but instead I accidentally uncovered a CIA operation. Don't know if it is still active so I won't say anything else about it except database integration can give insights and glimpses into situations that are at first very transparent.

This sounds like what caught Linda.

The title off the post is irritating (4, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223255)

The title off the post is irritating.
The database did nothing. It is a process running on a computer. Information flows in, (potentially useful) information flows out, a suspected criminal is arrested. One could as well claim that the piping system in a house effected the drowning of someone. Water flowed in, water flowed out, and someone died.
The database is just an occasionally useful tool. The code for it is written by people, and the outputs are intrepreted and acted upon by people.
Could we eschew this slipshod causal analysis?

The justice system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223273)

Even if she's guilty, I think this case just shows that criminals can be integrated into society and there's really no reason to automatically lock up a murderer for the rest of his/her life.

Re:The justice system (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223505)

I think this case just shows that criminals can be integrated into society

Sure ... that's happening every day with illegal immigration. Whether that's a good thing is another issue entirely.

So far as murder is concerned, the problem is all other crimes don't permanently remove the victim's rights. Murder does, because the victim is dead. Consequently the law has always maintained harsher discipline for murderers because we want those sentences to serve as a deterrent. Kill someone? You're going down, and really that's how it should be. A better question would be why so many much-less-heinous crimes are receiving punishments similar to murder.

Re:The justice system (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223577)

Yes, if somebody escapes an never do any other crimes, guilty of not of the first one, they are not doing any (more) harm to society. Most likely she was innocent, or was caught in a situation where she did not see any other solution than murder. And if she did kill in a premeditated way and the threat of prison was not enough to stop her, well being convicted and sentenced scared her enough not to do it again. Instead of costing a lot in prison she led a productive life, she has learned her lesson. Isn't that one of the goal of imprisonment?.

tricky one (2, Interesting)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223291)

Tricky one.

Rather then attempt to clear her name shed escaped from jail and started a new life - a felony in itself.

On one hand you take the argument that they system has an appeals system designed to right injustice so if she believed she was innocent she should of tried to clear her name, on the other hand you have a possibly inept defense lawyer who seemed not to be dong their job and the possibility that left on her own she would rot in jail.

It is clear that the police have significant evidence to pin the crime on her, and the original jury clearly thought so. And we only have to facts as stated from TFA that make her seem like a saint based on the new life after the original murder.

And a justice system only works if all judgments and laws are upheld.

I am slightly disturbed by the final comment about this database "But there also were other clues that he said he could not talk about." - WTF? has this person never heard of conspiracy theorists? give them a single clue like that and they can invent ten secret organizations by lunchtime.

Re:tricky one (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223733)

a justice system only works if all judgments and laws are upheld.

The U.S. justice system would NOT work if all laws were upheld. Who would maintain the prisons if everybody in the country was incarcerated? Everybody is guilty of various felonies. Felonies (depending on state) include viewing pornography, butt sex, adultery, and having sex when you are under 18.

'Nother case (1)

pinguwin (807635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223359)

Some years ago, there was case of a black man who escaped from an Alabama prison and lived a quiet life for fifty years before getting caught, believe it was a serious charge like murder. The case was examined and it looked like he had been treated unfairly (i.e. young black fighting the 'Man' in the deep south in the 30's, not a win situation for him at all, he didn't stand a chance). It was sort of a choreographed ballet but the governor of Alabama went through the motions of requesting extradition and the governor of Illinois turned him down saying the evidence was questionable and he lived with no further problems. I guess the black guy had to live with the prospect of never being able to go to Alabama.

It does bring up a wider point, what is the purpose of the judicial system. Punishment/retribution or rehabilitation. Is this man or the woman rehabilitated and won't offend again? Is that enough or do we need to use deterrence and punishment to show others. It's a serious question for which I'm not sure of the answer.

She used a database to escape prison? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223381)

Good heavens people, pause and reread what you're typing. The first sentence of the article summary is a crime against not only the English language, but of all human thought!

Wrong Message (5, Insightful)

ncryptd (1172815) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223415)

I realize that this is supposed to be a "Look what Big Brother can do for you!" piece -- but is anyone else a little unsettled by what went on? A woman claims her innocence to the point where she breaks out of jail. After escaping, she goes on to live a normal life for 35 years (not harming anyone, and raising children), after which the government re-captures her, and will haul her back to prison to rehabilitate. Given that she spent 35 years on the outside with no further crimes, I'd say that she's pretty rehabilitated already.... but I guess not.
 
 

She and her husband ran a junk and antiques shop for a number of years, friends said. More recently, Darby worked cleaning houses and sitting with elderly people.


Whew! Glad we have her off the streets. Thank God for that database....

Re:Wrong Message (2, Funny)

ari wins (1016630) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223521)

Hey c'mon, you have to admit that with the present overcrowding at most prisons, someone with her skills is needed. Not everyone is good with a mop, you know. Plus, someone really should sit with the new perp's after their first night of gang sodomization.

Re:Wrong Message (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223535)

A woman claims her innocence to the point where she breaks out of jail.

What, only innocent people try and break out of jail? Please.

Given that she spent 35 years on the outside with no further crimes, I'd say that she's pretty rehabilitated already.... but I guess not.

So what's your point? If we convict people who MURDER their spouses, we should let them out to see if they can turn their life around? If your sister's husband murders your sister, then escapes, are you OK with just letting him go? If you're OK with murder, I assume you're OK if he just beats her up.

Of course, we have to be consistent. If any prison claims that their innocent, we should let them out. Or if any prison *might* live a productive life, we should let them out. Or if any prison can manage to escape AND stay hidden for along enough time without any crime, then their crime will be forgiven.

Maybe you can define exactly what you want the rule to be.

If it was my son that was murdered by this woman, I'd be pretty happy that we have better tools to catch bad people. This was a huge win for law enforcement. I'm glad we're finding these people and not letting them chortle day after day about how they "got away with it."

Re:Wrong Message (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223579)

Okay, I'll take the bait.

I was under the impression that while you may be sentenced to life in prison for a murder, you generally don't stay in prison for your entire life. You eventually get parole for good behavior. In addition, the reason for the justice system is to punish those that do bad (to be a deterrent to others to commit similar crimes) and incarcerate those that are a danger to society. I have a hard time believing that she is a danger to society. As a deterrent to others, I'm not so sure she qualifies.

Re:Wrong Message (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223555)

the government re-captures her, and will haul her back to prison to rehabilitate
What makes you think prison has anything to do with rehabilitation? It's punishment for a crime, not a boot camp for troubled teens. I don't care how nice a person everyone around thinks she is, she murdered her husband and has to pay the price for that.

Re:Wrong Message (1)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223661)

Possibly because at it's basest level, punishment is supposed to be about rehabilitation? A punishment makes you not want to do something again (generally).

Furthermore, as a caring society, our prisons DO have the mandate to rehabilitate as it is the best option for all involved. If you can take a criminal and turn them into a productive member of society, then society just got significantly better.

That said, for precedence reasons, they have to haul her in. Otherwise you're setting a really bad example.....but something in the back of my mind says that she stayed off the radar screen and lived a good life, and now this database that's supposed to CATCH THE OMG TERRORISTS!!!! instead catches a 65 year old lady, and the law enforcement authorities are using this case as their reason for why the database is so great?!?! WHAT ABOUT SHOWING US ALL THE TERRORISTS THAT THIS DATABASE WAS SUPPOSED TO CATCH RATHER THAN HAPPY OLD GRANDMAS??!

Re:Wrong Message (1)

aluminumcube (542280) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223585)

Since when did breaking out of prison become some sort of indication that a person was innocent?

Re:Wrong Message (1)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223587)

As another poster here said, there's no way any of us can ascertain if she is really innocent or not. I'm a little more concerned about the cost. In a quick google search, I couldn't find the price tag of this particular database, but I did find this [informationweek.com] :

One problem that's getting $380 million worth of attention in the president's budget: developing an INS database to identify foreigners who overstay their visits or are considered threats. The database would be linked to other agencies to keep tabs on foreigners.
If the Department of Homeland Security is spending anyone thing like the same amounts of money, I think it's a rather larger price to pay for one fugitive grandmother, if that's all they can show for their work.

But, hey, what do I know, I'm just some joe-schmoe taxpayer.

Re:Wrong Message (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223603)

"Thank God for that database...."

God is a coder? Shit, we are surely in the Matrix then.

Re:Wrong Message (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223667)

I am glad that the family of the murdered man will finally get to see the perpetrator punished for her crimes.

If she didn't do them, then maybe modern methods can be used to absolve her of the blame.

However she was found guilty, however strange her defence was (likely indicating that there was no means of defence, not even character witnesses at the time) and thus should have been punished. Instead she has lived 35 years as a free person, with only the diminishing worry of being captured; having fun, children, life experiences, etc. The husband she murdered never had that. She's stolen a life from him and his family by escaping, adding further insult to their pain.

It does sound like she is rehabilitated of course, most murders are one-offs.

Big Brother Success stories ... (1)

lorg (578246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223437)

Oh how I loathe these kinda big brother success stories. One little glorious success validates the entire program and should make us forget about all the real and potential abuse that the system brings. Cause if we don't then we have something to hide and/or are pro-crime.

Any wanna cruch the numbers on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223441)

So... how much money was spent to make this event happen?

What is the 'cost per result' of GrandMotherland Security?

Yesss! Guess my PDP-11 batch job finally finished! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223449)

I was wondering how it was going...

Re:Yesss! Guess my PDP-11 batch job finally finish (1)

Morky (577776) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223511)

Ok, now that's funny.

Did the Government Lie? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223493)

I thought that such data - as in from massive wiretapping and data-mining - collected in the name of the War On Terror (tm) by the DHS & Co, et al were not to be used in the pursuit of "ordinary" domestic crime?

Database doesn't seem to do much good.... (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223539)

Clearly the article is right that she couldn't have had a criminal record, as that should get her found immediately. Perhaps she didn't have the pristine life the article tries to paint, but chances are any dirt on her is nothing more than that which a free citizen might have on them. She clearly doesn't deserve to go back to prison; the proactive idea is supposed to be to reform inmates and get them to be able to go back to society, and she has demonstrated that she is a good citizen. After so many years, it wouldn't hurt to let her stay where she is. The only reason I can see for bringing her back is to set an example so inmates know there is no freedom from justice, by whatever definition. If her case is needed as an example, the database mustn't be doing much, as there should be enough examples that a one-time and one-time-only criminal doesn't have to be one. I just hope if she had to be the scapegoat to make the database look good, they put her right back out on parole and let her off easy.

prescriptive periods (1)

Beretta Vexe (535187) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223549)

35 years! What's the prescriptive periods for murder or escaping in Indiana ?

Trillions of $$ Well Spent... (2, Insightful)

littlewink (996298) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223613)

pursuing enemies of the United States. Undoubtedly they also have determined where Osama Bin Laden is hiding?

I am soooo pleased that we now have tens of thousands of otherwise unemployed white-collar workers working diligently to pursue terrorists such as this woman. If only one such terrorist is found by the trillions of dollars then I think the "War on Terror" must be declared a wild success.

Sheesh!

Why are they looking for criminals not terrorists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223619)

Does the government even have the right to use the database for that kind of domestic spying? I thought it was only supposed to be used for looking for terrorists. As soon as you start looking for criminals, the constitution and our right to privacy comes into play.

Why this bothers you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21223665)

Yes, she's an escaped murder, and it's good that she got caught.

What is unsettling about this article is that it puts the lie to the idea that all these new draconian anti-terrorism laws are only going to affect terrorists. Not the case, and anyone the least bit familiar with US law enforcement would know this - they will always use every tool, take any liberty they think they can get away with to "enforce the law".

So the next time Congress passes another anti-terrorism law, and your Congressman stands there and tells you it's a vital weapon in the "War on Terror" - keep in mind, it will be used on everyone in law enforcement's "War on Crime" - and grandmothers are a hell of a lot easier to catch than most terrorists.

Missing the Point (1)

batquux (323697) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223673)

... apprehended 35 years after escaping prison by a computer database created by the Department of Homeland Security.
This database is so powerful it actually apprehended the woman!
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