#WYRWednesday: Would you rather go to jail for four years for something you didn’t do or get away with something horrible you did but always live in fear of being caught?


As many students know, Prep English teacher Mr. Hubert does something similar to a bell ringer called “opening tips” (since he is a big basketball fan). These opening tips have themes such as #MusicMonday, #ThrowbackThursday, and a student favorite, #WouldYouRatherWednesday or #WYRWednesday. During the 2020-21 school year, particularly in 6th period AP Language and Composition, things got intense, as there were many stubborn people who believed their #WYRWednesday opinion was right and no one else could possibly be.

As a result, we thought it would be fun to bring it back in some capacity for The Rambler.

The question: Would you rather go to jail for four years for something you didn’t do or get away with something horrible you did but always live in fear of being caught?

Henry Abercrombie: I would rather go to jail for four years, even if I was innocent, than live with the guilt of my atrocious crimes for the rest of my life. Jail would certainly be a difficult experience, but I believe that I have the mental fortitude to tough it out. On the other hand, I would be unable to bear the burden of my horrible actions forever. While the prompt does state that you must go to jail for 4 years, nothing prevents you from proving your innocence afterwards, and receiving a huge settlement from the prison. This would more than make up for the potential financial destitution that one could face after prison.

We must also examine the morality behind actively choosing to commit a heinous crime, and then not even turning yourself in! Facing the time while innocent of the crime is a much preferable alternative—if the crime in question is “horrible”, then the sentence would be much longer than 4 years. A clean conscience is infinitely preferable over the guilt that would erode your mind as the years pass.

Hayden Hutchinson: I would definitely rather commit a crime and not go to jail, even if living in fear. There are a few reasons for this, but mostly because of the psychological effects that going to jail for a crime you did not commit can do. That’s four years of your life that you cannot get back, and once you get out of jail, it is hard to get a job as the system is set up for you to fail. If you had good relationship with your family it would be hard to maintain any relationships when you sparingly see them. Even though you would have to commit a crime, you have the four years to repent for the sins you have committed.

Also, as a Catholic school we believe in Jesus, and in the New Testament he speaks of mercy and forgives. Therefore, no matter what crime you commit Jesus would forgive you for your sins if you were truly sorry. The living in fear part is tough, but it keeps you on your toes. People are stressed about a million things in their daily lives, so what’s one more thing to be stressed about? The psychological effects of being wrongly detained are tough as is the side effects of it, such as lost relationships and difficulty finding work.

Henry Abercrombie: If you were to live to be about 79 years old, which is the average life expectancy for an American citizen, four years would only comprise about five percent of your life! Regardless of the viewing options available, four years is not enough time to totally erode relationships with your family and friends. While it is rather difficult to get a job after being released from jail, proving your innocence afterwards should be a trivial matter, which would absolutely get you back on your feet.

While the psychological effects of jail can be debilitating, you will certainly survive as long as you are not in solitary confinement or some other form of torture. Additionally, plenty of counseling services are available throughout the the U.S. Also, you may end up going to prison elsewhere. In many other countries, like Denmark and Norway, prison systems are focused on rehabilitation. Studies show that the rates of recidivism in these countries are substantially reduced, and inmates often get the mental health treatment that they desperately need.

Even if Jesus always forgives us, many other people in the world are not adherents to the Christian faith. It is also much harder to forgive yourself, than to obtain the forgiveness of Jesus. Constantly being on the run because of a terrible crime is not just “one more thing to be stressed about.” Perhaps it will be the metaphorical straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Hayden Hutchinson: Five percent of one’s life is so much. That’s freshman to senior year. Think of how many important things happened in that time frame. Also, proving one’s innocence would be the opposite of a trivial matter. Obviously they have enough to incarcerate you, so upholding that decision would not be too difficult. Another thing would be lawyers’ fees, which would add to the cost.

I am assuming we are in the United States as that’s where we are now; therefore, the crime would be charged somewhere here. In jail they do solitary confinement for people who do not listen, which could harm you more than just going to jail, which I already established had negative effects. The American system of incarceration is broken, and counseling after does not help everyone.

Overall, the lasting impacts of going to prison make it the worse choice. While committing a crime and living in fear is not the best, it still allows for you to change your life in a positive way without restricting your future.

What do you think? Cast your vote in our poll below. 

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