In his seminal work Commentaries on the Laws of England, English jurist William Blackstone wrote:
It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer. 
The idea subsequently became a staple of legal thinking in Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions and continues to be a topic of debate. There is also a long pre-history of similar sentiments going back centuries in a variety of legal traditions. The message that government and the courts must err on the side of bringing in verdicts of innocence has remained constant.
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