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Database Finds Fugitive After 35 Years 459

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the can-run-but-cannot-hide dept.
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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Database Finds Fugitive After 35 Years

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

    by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @09:36AM (#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... (Score:4, Informative)

    by durdur (252098) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @10:04AM (#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... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Squalish (542159) <Squalis[ ]T hotm ... m ['h A' in gap]> on Saturday November 03, 2007 @10:06AM (#21223369) Journal
    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... (Score:3, Informative)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @10:11AM (#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.

  • by deftcoder (1090261) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @10:46AM (#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:Of course... (Score:3, Informative)

    by lobStar (1103461) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @10:55AM (#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.
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @11:02AM (#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?
  • by Ex-MislTech (557759) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @12:12PM (#21224203)
    http://www.brainwavescience.com/ [brainwavescience.com]

    While not perfect, this has freed other prisoners legally,
    and this could be used to determine her guilt or innocence
    to a very high probability.

    Much more so than just a simple polygraph.

  • Re:False Positives (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bloke down the pub (861787) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @05:18PM (#21226347)

    Dude, fingered means arrested.
    No it doesn't, it means to put suspicion on someone. Like, to point the finger. Getting lifted, nabbed or collared means arrested.
  • by olman (127310) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @10:06AM (#21230839)
    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.

    Dunno how things work in US of A but around here anything short of murder DOES expire. If you embezzle millions and manage to evade justice for 20 years (or whatever) you can come retire in your homeland. Nb. I'm not a lawyer, maybe "they" would still seize your assets on the assumption they were acquired from initially illegally gained stash and/or nail you on taxes, but you couldn't be kicked to prison.

    Murder, however, never expires except when the criminal dies. Actually a lot of people confess old homicides on their deathbed.. And even for slashdot groupmind, it blows MY mind that people have a problem with the concept that murder is not something that will be glossed over. Yeah, if you do your time and demonstrate you have actually reformed you'll get out eventually. In socialist europe that means about 20yrs max of hard time which is in fact quite a long time.

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