Joe Hunt discusses the Natural and Probable Consequences Doctrine, which results in “aiders and abettors” of a crime getting the same punishment as perpetrators.
I’ve often said to some of the other men in prison that they’re my people, in that these are my peers, this is who I’ve lived with.
I’ve bonded with some of these guys, some of these men who are doing life without and are murderers are my friends.
Now a lot of them are here on this aiding and abetting theory of what they call vicarious liability in the law, and there’s several different ways that vicarious liability can be assigned but one of the principal ones is the aider and abetter rules and there’s also something called the Natural And Probable Consequences Doctrine. So under aiding and abetting if you exhort, encourage, incite or aid someone in a felony and that felony results in somebody’s death, under the felony murder doctrine and under the aider and abetter doctrine, together, stitched together, you end up with the same liability as the actual perpetrator, and this can be a travesty.
It does not, this is not the sort of travesty that occurred in my case, that’s of a different stripe, but it is the travesty that we’re giving, society is giving, handing out “life without” sentences to men who never had a moment where they crossed that line and became intentional murderers.
In fact they never actually chose to do an action that directly resulted in another person’s death. They never curled their finger around the trigger of a revolver or plunged a knife into somebody and so they didn’t have the — they never did anything that manifested the sort of depravity that you would associate with a “life without” sentence. A sort of malice of forethought or maliciousness or wickedness.
They might have done something like got talked into by their homeboys or actively decided to be a getaway driver or they might have been members of a gang and went to back to up a buddy in a confrontation with another gang and then suddenly their buddy pulls a gun and shoots somebody.
Unexpectedly to all of them and they end up doing “life without” time under the Natural And Probable Consequences Doctrine or aiding and abetting gang activity doctrine.
And it’s just so unfair because society is presuming that they are, that they were so given over to malice and depravity that they would kill another person, but really there’s no proof that they ever reached that state in their life. But the prosecution theory is otherwise.
So most civilized countries in the world, they don’t have doctrines like that and they don’t put people away for life without possibility of parole at all. Let alone in an instant where the person actually never chose intentionally.