There are weaknesses in the system, for example requiring witnesses, certain types of evidence being required, certain procedures police need to follow, certain legal proceedings etc.
These appear to me to be areas of the system that constantly get exploited by organised crime. For example, murdering or intimidating witnesses, getting evidence thrown out of court for not being in the correct form or correctly obtained, endless appeal processes that eat up money and make it too costly to actually get a conviction at all.
Now I understand there is a fundamental principle of law, which says that we'd rather have 9 guilty men walk free than have one innocent man behind bars. I think for normal criminal activity - murder, theft, rape etc. That's fine.
However I think there is a very good case for having a different legal framework for organised crime. It is after all a very different sort of crime, and by the sounds of it one that is really not affected or impeded by police action. It is currently too time-consuming and too costly and just too difficult for police to do the job.
In most cases however the police know who the criminals are and have extensive files on them detailing their connections and criminal activities. They just don't have enough legal evidence to get them through the courts and into jail.
Organised crime is also very dangerous. For example in the 1980s a Columbian drug-lord - Pablo Escobar - offered the Columbian government a deal. He said he would pay off the entire national debt in return for immunity from extradition to the USA. Imagine that. One guy has enough money to just pay off a whole country's debt. Organised criminals clearly have better resources, better man-power, more money and in some cases more power than legitimate governments. The potential cost for failing to get a grip on it is difficult to calculate but I think it's tremendous.
So on the moral question, is it so bad if one person is accidentally or wrongly convicted of organised crime? First of all, I think that would be much harder to do than in normal criminal cases. Getting wrongly convicted of your wife's murder is much easier than getting wrongly convicted of running an international drug trafficking network. So I would be willing to bet that this false imprisonment probably wouldn't even happen.
Let's suppose though that it did. Compare that to the current costs of allowing people that are KNOWN to be organised criminals wander the planet as free men, because they got off on some legal technicality or the police did not have the man power or the correct type of evidence to complete a conviction through the courts. This person goes around, murdering innocent people, hooking people on drugs, trafficking people, extorting, stealing, dealing in the sex and slave trade, running guns and fueling war which in turn leads to many more innocent deaths.
Surely the damage created by that is far far worse than having a couple of people wrongly spend 20 years in a jail cell. How is it right that we let a known killer walk free to murder another innocent person? Surely that is a moral issue as well and one we have a responsibility to correct? That innocent victim is equally let down by the system as a wrongly convicted person.
A simple solution that came to my mind recently was this:
1) Greatly relax the requirements of convicting someone of organised crime, to the point where a decent amount of convictions could be made to actually make a material difference to the operations of these groups. This could be done gradually to find the right level.
2) Abolish the appeals process for organised crime convictions for a 5 year period. So minimally the guy has to spend at least 5 years in jail whatever happens. If it was a mistake then fine, he gets out after 5 years. But at least if they can pin the guy down and get him behind bars there is a minimum time before he gets out and that way it makes an effective disruption to the criminal network. This stops him hiring 400 expert lawyers with his billions of illegal drug money to find a loophole in the system where he can get out after 90 days or something like that.
3) Make it much easier to take assets away from known criminals. Once it's clear to any reasonable person that this guy is the head of an organised crime group, he should just get banged up without an appeal and have the assets stripped and taken by the state. Job done. No endless legal proceedings to tie up the courts and make it financially impossible for the police to prove that those assets were funded by illegal activity (they launder the money to disguise that so what chance do the police have of proving that anyway?)
Obviously there will have to be balance in the law, or it is open to abuse by the police force to just target people they don't like, or it could be used against political opponents to establish a dictatorship etc etc. I understand the risks involved.
But really, in the current situation surely the risks of leaving the legal system as it is, and I'm specifically talking about organised crime here, is much much greater. You could argue that massively increasing the police force would be a better alternative but governments do not have as much money as these criminals so can we really expect them to compete in this way? Much easier just to change the law and pop all these guys behind bars, most police already know who they are the difficulty is getting them successfully through the courts.
Someone tell me I'm wrong cos I've thought about it quite a bit these last few days and it's bugging me that no one is doing this now. Seems like such an obvious solution to a problem that has been plaguing society for over a century now, if I'm right then it just means we are all total losers for not spotting this earlier.