MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.
In the early morning hours of August 26, 1976, respondents Clifford Bailey, James T. Cogdell, Ronald C. Cooley, and Ralph Walker, federal prisoners at the District of Columbia jail, crawled through a window from which a bar had been removed, slid down a knotted bedsheet, and escaped from custody. Federal authorities recaptured them after they had remained at large for a period of time ranging from one month to three and one-half months. Upon their apprehension, they were charged with violating 18 U. S. C. § 751 (a), which governs escape from federal custody.
In reaching our conclusion, we must decide the state of mind necessary for violation of § 751 (a) and the elements that constitute defenses such as duress and necessity. In explaining the reasons for our decision, we find ourselves in a position akin to that of the mother crab who is trying to teach her progeny to walk in a straight line, and finally in desperation exclaims: "Don't do as I do, do as I say." The Act of Congress we construe consists of one sentence set forth in the margin, n. 1, supra; our own pragmatic estimate, expressed infra, at 417, is that "[i]n general, trials for violations of § 751 (a) should be simple affairs." Yet we have written, reluctantly but we believe necessarily, a somewhat lengthy opinion supporting our conclusion, because in enacting the Federal Criminal Code Congress legislated in the light of a long history of case law that is frequently relevant in fleshing out the bare bones of a crime that Congress may have proscribed in a single sentence. See Morissette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246 (1952).
All respondents requested jury trials and were initially scheduled to be tried jointly. At the last minute, however, respondent Cogdell secured a severance. Because the District Court refused to submit to the jury any instructions on respondents' defense of duress or necessity and did not charge the jury that escape was a continuing offense, we must examine in some detail the evidence brought out at trial.
The prosecution's case in chief against Bailey, Cooley, and Walker was brief. The Government introduced evidence that each of the respondents was in federal custody on August 26, 1976, that they had disappeared, apparently through a cell window, at approximately 5:35 a. m. on that date, and that they had been apprehended individually between September 27 and December 13, 1976.
Respondents' defense of duress or necessity centered on the conditions in the jail during the months of June, July, and August 1976, and on various threats and beatings directed at them during that period. In describing the conditions at the jail, they introduced evidence of frequent fires in "Northeast One," the maximum-security cellblock occupied by respondents prior to their escape. Construed in the light most favorable to them, this evidence demonstrated that the inmates of Northeast One, and on occasion the guards in that unit, set fire to trash, bedding, and other objects thrown from the cells. According to the inmates, the guards simply allowed the fires to burn until they went out. Although the fires apparently were confined to small areas and posed no substantial threat of spreading through the complex, poor ventilation caused smoke to collect and linger in the cellblock.
Respondents Cooley and Bailey also introduced testimony that the guards at the jail had subjected them to beatings and to threats of death. Walker attempted to prove that he was an epileptic and had received inadequate medical attention for his seizures.
Respondent Bailey, who was apprehended on November 19, 1976, told a similar story. He stated that he "had the jail officials called several times," but did not turn himself in because "I would still be under the threats of death." Like Cooley, Bailey testified that "the FBI was telling my people that they was going to shoot me." Id., at 169, 175-176.
Only respondent Walker suggested that he had attempted to negotiate a surrender. Like Cooley and Bailey, Walker testified that the FBI had told his "people" that they would kill him when they recaptured him. Nevertheless, according to Walker, he called the FBI three times and spoke with an agent whose name he could not remember. That agent allegedly assured him that the FBI would not harm him, but was unable to promise that Walker would not be returned to the D. C. jail. Id., at 195-200.
At the close of all the evidence, the District Court rejected respondents' proffered instruction on duress as a defense to
Two months later, respondent Cogdell came to trial before the same District Judge who had presided over the trial of his co-respondents. When Cogdell attempted to offer testimony concerning the allegedly inhumane conditions at the D. C. jail, the District Judge inquired into Cogdell's conduct between his escape on August 26 and his apprehension on September 28. In response to Cogdell's assertion that he "may have written letters," the District Court specified that Cogdell could testify only as to "what he did . . . [n]ot what he may have done." App. 230. Absent such testimony, however, the District Court ruled that Cogdell could not present evidence of conditions at the jail. Cogdell subsequently chose not to testify on his own behalf, and was convicted by the jury of violating § 751 (a).
By a divided vote, the Court of Appeals reversed each respondent's conviction and remanded for new trials. See 190 U. S. App. D. C. 142, 585 F.2d 1087 (1978); 190 U. S.
Turning to the applicability of the defense of duress or necessity, the majority assumed that escape as defined by § 751 (a) was a "continuing offense" as long as the escapee was at large. Given this assumption, the majority agreed with the District Court that, under normal circumstances, an escapee must present evidence of coercion to justify his continued absence from custody as well as his initial departure. Here, however, respondents had been indicted for "flee[ing]
The dissenting judge objected to what he characterized as a revolutionary reinterpretation of criminal law by the majority. He argued that the common-law crime of escape had traditionally required only "general intent," a mental state no more sophisticated than an "intent to go beyond permitted limits." Id., at 177, 585 F. 2d, at 1122 (emphasis deleted). The dissent concluded that the District Court had properly removed from consideration each respondent's contention that conditions and events at the D. C. jail justified his escape, because each respondent had introduced no evidence whatsoever justifying his continued absence from jail following that escape.
Criminal liability is normally based upon the concurrence of two factors, "an evil-meaning mind [and] an evil-doing hand. . . ." Morissette v. United States, 342 U. S., at 251. In the present case, we must examine both the mental element, or mens rea, required for conviction under § 751 (a) and the circumstances under which the "evil-doing hand" can avoid liability under that section because coercive conditions or necessity negates a conclusion of guilt even though the necessary mens rea was present.
Few areas of criminal law pose more difficulty than the proper definition of the mens rea required for any particular crime. In 1970, the National Commission on Reform of Federal Criminal Laws decried the "confused and inconsistent ad hoc approach" of the federal courts to this issue and called for "a new departure." See 1 Working Papers of the National Commission on Reform of Federal Criminal Laws 123 (hereinafter Working Papers). Although the central focus of this and other reform movements has been the codification of workable principles for determining criminal culpability, see, e. g., American Law Institute, Model Penal Code §§ 2.01-2.13 (Prop. Off. Draft 1962) (hereinafter Model Penal Code); S. 1, 94th Cong., 2d Sess., §§ 301-303 (1976), a byproduct has been a general rethinking of traditional mens rea analysis.
At common law, crimes generally were classified as requiring either "general intent" or "specific intent." This venerable distinction, however, has been the source of a good deal of confusion. As one treatise explained:
This ambiguity has led to a movement away from the traditional dichotomy of intent and toward an alternative analysis of mens rea. See id., at 202. This new approach, exemplified
In the case of most crimes, "the limited distinction between knowledge and purpose has not been considered important since `there is good reason for imposing liability whether the defendant desired or merely knew of the practical certainty of the results.'" United States v. United States Gypsum Co., supra, at 445, quoting LaFave & Scott 197. Thus, in Gypsum we held that a person could be held criminally liable under § 1 of the Sherman Act if that person exchanged price
In certain narrow classes of crimes, however, heightened culpability has been thought to merit special attention. Thus, the statutory and common law of homicide often distinguishes, either in setting the "degree" of the crime or in imposing punishment, between a person who knows that another person will be killed as the result of his conduct and a person who acts with the specific purpose of taking another's life. See LaFave & Scott 196-197. Similarly, where a defendant is charged with treason, this Court has stated that the Government must demonstrate that the defendant acted with a purpose to aid the enemy. See Haupt v. United States, 330 U.S. 631, 641 (1947). Another such example is the law of inchoate offenses such as attempt and conspiracy, where a heightened mental state separates criminality itself from otherwise innocuous behavior. See Model Penal Code § 2.02, Comments, p. 125 (Tent. Draft No. 4, 1955) (hereinafter MPC Comments).
In a general sense, "purpose" corresponds loosely with the common-law concept of specific intent, while "knowledge" corresponds loosely with the concept of general intent. See ibid.; LaFave & Scott 201-202. Were this substitution of terms the only innovation offered by the reformers, it would hardly be dramatic. But there is another ambiguity inherent in the traditional distinction between specific intent and general intent. Generally, even time-honored common-law crimes consist of several elements, and complex statutorily defined crimes exhibit this characteristic to an even greater degree. Is the same state of mind required of the actor for each element of the crime, or may some elements require one state of mind and some another? In United States v. Feola, 420 U.S. 671 (1975), for example, we were asked to decide
Before dissecting § 751 (a) and assigning a level of culpability to each element, we believe that two observations are in order. First, in performing such analysis courts obviously must follow Congress' intent as to the required level of mental culpability for any particular offense. Principles derived from common law as well as precepts suggested by the American Law Institute must bow to legislative mandates. In the case of § 751 (a), however, neither the language of the statute nor the legislative history mentions the mens rea required for conviction.
Second, while the suggested element-by-element analysis is a useful tool for making sense of an otherwise opaque concept, it is not the only principle to be considered. The administration of the federal system of criminal justice is confided to ordinary mortals, whether they be lawyers, judges, or jurors. This system could easily fall of its own weight if courts or
As relevant to the charges against Bailey, Cooley, and Walker, § 751 (a) required the prosecution to prove (1) that they had been in the custody of the Attorney General, (2) as the result of a conviction, and (3) that they had escaped from that custody. As for the charges against respondent Cogdell, § 751 (a) required the same proof, with the exception that his confinement was based upon an arrest for a felony rather than a prior conviction. Although § 751 (a) does not define the term "escape," courts and commentators are in general agreement that it means absenting oneself from custody without permission. See, e. g., 190 U. S. App. D. C., at 148, 585 F. 2d, at 1093; id., at 177, 585 F. 2d, at 1122 (Wilkey, J., dissenting); United States v. Wilke, 450 F.2d 877 (CA9 1971), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 918 (1972). See also 2 J. Bishop, Criminal Law § 1103, p. 819 (9th ed. 1923); 1 W. Burdick, Law of Crime 462-463 (1946); R. Perkins, Criminal Law 429 (1957); 3 F. Wharton, Criminal Law § 2003, p. 2178 (11th ed. 1912).
Respondents have not challenged the District Court's instructions on the first two elements of the crime defined by § 751 (a). It is undisputed that, on August 26, 1976, respondents were in the custody of the Attorney General as the result of either arrest on charges of felony or conviction. As for the element of "escape," we need not decide whether a person could be convicted on evidence of recklessness or negligence with respect to the limits on his freedom. A court may someday confront a case where an escapee did not know, but should have known, that he was exceeding the bounds of his confinement or that he was leaving without permission. Here, the District Court clearly instructed the juries that the prosecution bore the burden of proving that respondents "knowingly committed an act which the law makes a crime" and that they
The majority of the Court of Appeals, however, imposed the added burden on the prosecution to prove as a part of its case in chief that respondents acted "with an intent to avoid confinement." While, for the reasons noted above, the word "intent" is quite ambiguous, the majority left little doubt that it was requiring the Government to prove that the respondents acted with the purpose—that is, the conscious objective—of leaving the jail without authorization. In a footnote explaining their holding, for example, the majority specified that an escapee did not act with the requisite intent if he escaped in order to avoid "`non-confinement' conditions" as opposed to "normal aspects of `confinement.'" 190 U. S. App. D. C., at 148, n. 17, 585 F. 2d, at 1093, n. 17.
We find the majority's position quite unsupportable. Nothing in the language or legislative history of § 751 (a) indicates that Congress intended to require either such a heightened standard of culpability or such a narrow definition of confinement. As we stated earlier, the cases have generally held that, except in narrow classes of offenses, proof that the defendant acted knowingly is sufficient to support a conviction. Accordingly, we hold that the prosecution fulfills its burden under § 751 (a) if it demonstrates that an escapee knew his actions would result in his leaving physical confinement without permission. Our holding in this respect comports with parallel definitions of the crime of escape both in the Model Penal Code and in a proposed revision of the Federal Criminal Code. See Model Penal Code §§ 2.02 (3), 242.6 (1); Report of Senate Committee on the Judiciary to Accompany S. 1, S. Rep. No. 94-00, pp. 333-334 (Comm.
Respondents also contend that they are entitled to a new trial because they presented (or, in Cogdell's case, could have presented) sufficient evidence of duress or necessity to submit such a defense to the jury. The majority below did not confront this claim squarely, holding instead that, to the extent that such a defense normally would be barred by a prisoner's failure to return to custody, neither the indictment nor the jury instructions adequately described such a requirement. See 190 U. S. App. D. C., at 155-156, 585 F. 2d, at 1100-1101.
Common law historically distinguished between the defenses of duress and necessity. Duress was said to excuse criminal conduct where the actor was under an unlawful threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury, which threat caused the actor to engage in conduct violating the literal terms of the criminal law. While the defense of duress covered the situation where the coercion had its source in the
Modern cases have tended to blur the distinction between duress and necessity. In the court below, the majority discarded the labels "duress" and "necessity," choosing instead to examine the policies underlying the traditional defenses. See 190 U. S. App. D. C., at 152, 585 F. 2d, at 1097. In particular, the majority felt that the defenses were designed to spare a person from punishment if he acted "under threats or conditions that a person of ordinary firmness would have been unable to resist," or if he reasonably believed that criminal action "was necessary to avoid a harm more serious than that sought to be prevented by the statute defining the offense." Id., at 152-153, 585 F. 2d, at 1097-1098. The Model Penal Code redefines the defenses along similar lines. See Model Penal Code § 2.09 (duress) and § 3.02 (choice of evils).
We need not speculate now, however, on the precise contours of whatever defenses of duress or necessity are available against charges brought under § 751 (a). Under any definition of these defenses one principle remains constant: if there was a reasonable, legal alternative to violating the law, "a chance both to refuse to do the criminal act and also to avoid the threatened harm," the defenses will fail. LaFave & Scott 379.
In the present case, the Government contends that respondents' showing was insufficient on two grounds. First, the Government asserts that the threats and conditions cited by respondents as justifying their escape were not sufficiently immediate or serious to justify their departure from lawful custody. Second, the Government contends that, once the respondents had escaped, the coercive conditions in the jail were no longer a threat and respondents were under a duty to terminate their status as fugitives by turning themselves over to the authorities.
Respondents, on the other hand, argue that the evidence of coercion and conditions in the jail was at least sufficient to go to the jury as an affirmative defense to the crime charged. As for their failure to return to custody after gaining their freedom, respondents assert that this failure should be but one factor in the overall determination whether their initial departure was justified. According to respondents, their failure to surrender "may reflect adversely on the bona fides of [their] motivation" in leaving the jail, but should not withdraw
We need not decide whether such evidence as that submitted by respondents was sufficient to raise a jury question as to their initial departures. This is because we decline to hold that respondents' failure to return is "just one factor" for the jury to weigh in deciding whether the initial escape could be affirmatively justified. On the contrary, several considerations lead us to conclude that, in order to be entitled to an instruction on duress or necessity as a defense to the crime charged, an escapee must first offer evidence justifying his continued absence from custody as well as his initial departure
First, we think it clear beyond peradventure that escape from federal custody as defined in § 751 (a) is a continuing offense and that an escapee can be held liable for failure to return to custody as well as for his initial departure. Given the continuing threat to society posed by an escaped prisoner, "the nature of the crime involved is such that Congress must assuredly have intended that it be treated as a continuing one." Toussie v. United States, 397 U.S. 112, 115 (1970). Moreover, every federal court that has considered this issue has held, either explicitly or implicitly, that § 751 (a) defines a continuing offense. See, e. g., United States v. Michelson, 559 F.2d 567 (CA9 1977); United States v. Cluck, 542 F.2d 728 (CA8), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 986 (1976); United States v. Joiner, 496 F.2d 1314 (CA5), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 1002 (1974); United States v. Chapman, 455 F.2d 746 (CA5 1972).
Respondents point out that Toussie calls for restraint in labeling crimes as continuing offenses. The justification for that restraint, however, is the tension between the doctrine of continuing offenses and the policy of repose embodied in statutes
The remaining considerations leading to our conclusion are, perhaps ironically, derived from the same concern for the statutory and constitutional right of jury trial upon which the majority of the Court of Appeals based its reasoning. There was no significant "variance" in the indictment merely because respondents had not been indicted under a theory of escape as a continuing offense and because the District Court did not explain this theory to the juries. We have held on several occasions that "an indictment is sufficient if it, first, contains the elements of the offense charged and fairly informs the defendant of the charge against which he must defend, and, second, enables him to plead an acquittal or conviction in bar of future prosecutions for the same offense." Hamling v. United States, 418 U.S. 87, 117 (1974). These indictments, which track closely the language of § 751 (a), were undoubtedly sufficient under this standard. See 418 U. S., at 117. As for the alleged failure of the District Court to elaborate for the benefit of the jury on the continuing nature of the charged offense, we believe that such elaboration was unnecessary where, as here, the evidence failed as a matter of law in a crucial particular to reach the minimum threshold that would have required an instruction on respondents' theory of the case generally.
The Anglo-Saxon tradition of criminal justice, embodied in the United States Constitution and in federal statutes, makes jurors the judges of the credibility of testimony offered by witnesses. It is for them, generally, and not for appellate
We therefore hold that, where a criminal defendant is charged with escape and claims that he is entitled to an instruction on the theory of duress or necessity, he must proffer evidence of a bona fide effort to surrender or return to custody as soon as the claimed duress or necessity had lost its coercive force. We have reviewed the evidence examined elaborately in the majority and dissenting opinions below, and find the case not even close, even under respondents' versions of the facts, as to whether they either surrendered or offered to surrender at their earliest possible opportunity. Since we have determined that this is an indispensable element of the defense of duress or necessity, respondents were not entitled to any instruction on such a theory. Vague and necessarily self-serving statements of defendants or witnesses as to future good intentions or ambiguous conduct simply do not support a finding of this element of the defense.
In reversing the judgments of the Court of Appeals, we believe that we are at least as faithful as the majority of that court to its expressed policy of "allowing the jury to perform its accustomed role" as the arbiter of factual disputes. 190 U. S. App. D. C., at 151, 585 F. 2d, at 1096. The requirement of a threshold showing on the part of those who assert an affirmative defense to a crime is by no means a derogation of the importance of the jury as a judge of credibility. Nor is it based on any distrust of the jury's ability to separate fact from fiction. On the contrary, it is a testament to the importance of trial by jury and the need to husband the resources necessary for that process by limiting evidence in a trial to that directed at the elements of the crime or at affirmative defenses. If, as we here hold, an affirmative defense consists of several elements and testimony supporting one element is insufficient to sustain it even if believed, the trial court and jury need not be burdened with testimony supporting other elements of the defense.
Because the juries below were properly instructed on the mens rea required by § 751 (a), and because the respondents failed to introduce evidence sufficient to submit their defenses of duress and necessity to the juries, we reverse the judgments of the Court of Appeals.
MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL took no part in the consideration or decision of these cases.
MR. JUSTICE STEVENS, concurring.
The essential difference between the majority and the dissent is over the question whether the record contains enough evidence of a bona fide effort to surrender or return to custody to present a question of fact for the jury to resolve. On this issue, I agree with the Court that the evidence introduced by defendants Cooley, Bailey, and Cogdell was plainly insufficient.
The fact that I have joined the Court's opinion does not indicate that I—or indeed that any other Member of the majority—is unconcerned about prison conditions described by MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN. Because we are construing the federal escape statute, however, I think it only fair to note that such conditions are more apt to prevail in state or county facilities than in federal facilities.
MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN, with whom MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN joins, dissenting.
The Court's opinion, it seems to me, is an impeccable exercise in undisputed general principles and technical legalism: The respondents were properly confined in the District of Columbia jail. They departed from that jail without authority or consent. They failed promptly to turn themselves in when, as the Court would assert by way of justification, ante, at 413. 415, the claimed duress or necessity "had lost its coercive force." Therefore, the Court concludes, there is no defense for a jury to weigh and consider against the respondents' prosecution for escape violative of 18 U. S. C. § 751 (a).
It is with the Court's assertion that the claimed duress or necessity had lost its coercive force that I particularly disagree. The conditions that led to respondents' initial departure from the D. C. jail continue unabated. If departure was justified—and on the record before us that issue, I feel, is for the jury to resolve as a matter of fact in the light of
The Court, in its carefully structured opinion, does reach a result that might be a proper one were we living in that ideal world, and were our American jails and penitentiaries truly places for humane and rehabilitative treatment of their inmates. Then the statutory crime of escape could not be excused by duress or necessity, by beatings, and by guard-set fires in the jails, for these would not take place, and escapees would be appropriately prosecuted and punished.
But we do not live in an ideal world "even" (to use a self-centered phrase) in America, so far as jail and prison conditions are concerned. The complaints that this Court, and every other American appellate court, receives almost daily from prisoners about conditions of incarceration, about filth, about homosexual rape, and about brutality are not always the mouthings of the purely malcontent. The Court itself acknowledges, ante, at 398, that the conditions these respondents complained about do exist. It is in the light of this stark truth, it seems to me, that these cases are to be evaluated. It must follow, then, that the jail-condition evidence proffered by respondent Cogdell should have been admitted, and that the jury before whom respondents Bailey, Cooley, and Walker were tried should not have been instructed to disregard the jail-condition evidence that did come in. I therefore dissent.
The atrocities and inhuman conditions of prison life in America are almost unbelievable; surely they are nothing less than shocking. The dissent in the Bailey case in the Court of Appeals acknowledged that "the circumstances of prison life are such that at least a colorable, if not credible, claim of duress or necessity can be raised with respect to virtually every escape." 190 U. S. App. D. C. 142, 167, 585 F.2d 1087, 1112. And the Government concedes: "In light of prison conditions that even now prevail in the United States, it would be the rare inmate who could not convince himself that continued incarceration would be harmful to his health or safety." Brief for United States 27. See Furtado v. Bishop, 604 F.2d 80 (CA1 1979), cert. denied, post, p. 1035. Cf. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520 (1979).
A youthful inmate can expect to be subjected to homosexual gang rape his first night in jail, or, it has been said, even in the van on the way to jail.
The evidence submitted by respondents in these cases fits that pattern exactly. Respondent Bailey presented evidence that he was continually mistreated by correctional officers during his stay at the D. C. jail. He was threatened that his testimony in the Brad King case would bring on severe retribution. App. 142, 145. Other inmates were beaten by guards as a message to Bailey. Id., at 36. An inmate testified that on one occasion, three guards displaying a small knife told him that they were going "to get your buddy, that nigger Bailey. We're going to kill him." Id., at 94. The threats culminated in a series of violent attacks on Bailey. Blackjacks, mace, and slapjacks (leather with a steel insert) were used in beating Bailey. Id., at 94, 101, 146-150.
Respondent Cooley also elicited testimony from other inmates concerning beatings of Cooley by guards with slapjacks, blackjacks, and flashlights. Id., at 46-47, 97-98, 106, 116-118,
It is society's responsibility to protect the life and health of its prisoners. "[W]hen a sheriff or a marshall [sic] takes a man from the courthouse in a prison van and transports him to confinement for two or three or ten years, this is our act. We have tolled the bell for him. And whether we like it or not, we have made him our collective responsibility. We are free to do something about him; he is not" (emphasis in original). Address by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, 25 Record of the Assn. of the Bar of the City of New York 14, 17 (Mar. 1970 Supp.). Deliberate indifference to serious and essential medical needs of prisoners constitutes "cruel and unusual" punishment violative of the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976).
It cannot be doubted that excessive or unprovoked violence and brutality inflicted by prison guards upon inmates violates the Eighth Amendment. See, e. g., Jackson v. Bishop, 404 F.2d 571 (CA8 1968). The reasons that support the Court's holding in Estelle v. Gamble lead me to conclude that failure to use reasonable measures to protect an inmate from violence inflicted by other inmates also constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Homosexual rape or other violence serves no penological purpose. Such brutality is the equivalent of torture, and is offensive to any modern standard of human dignity. Prisoners must depend, and rightly so, upon the prison administrators for protection from abuse of this kind.
Penal systems in other parts of the world demonstrate that vast improvement surely is not beyond our reach. "The contrast between our indifference and the programs in some countries of Europe—Holland and the Scandinavian countries in particular—is not a happy one for us." Address by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, supra, at 20. "It has been many years since Swedish prisoners were concerned with such problems as `adequate food, water, shelter'; `true religious freedom'; and `adequate medical treatment.'" Ward, Inmate Rights and Prison Reform in Sweden and Denmark, 63 J. Crim. L., C. & P. S. 240 (1972). See also Profile/Sweden, Corrections Magazine 11 (June 1977). Sweden's prisons are not over-crowded, and most inmates have a private cell. Salomon, Lessons from the Swedish Criminal Justice System: A Reappraisal, 40 Fed. Probation 40, 43 (Sept. 1976). The prisons are small. The largest accommodate 300-500 inmates; most house 50-150. Id., at 43; Profile/Sweden, supra, at 14. "There appears to be a relaxed atmosphere between staff and inmates, and a prevailing attitude that prisoners must be treated with dignity and respect." Siegel, Criminal Justice— Swedish Style: A Humane Search for Answers, 1 Offender Rehabilitation 291, 292 (1977).
The real question presented in this case is whether the prisoner should be punished for helping to extricate himself from a situation where society has abdicated completely its basic responsibility for providing an environment free of life-threatening conditions such as beatings, fires, lack of essential medical care, and sexual attacks. To be sure, Congress in so
Although the Court declines to address the issue, it at least implies that it would recognize the common-law defenses of duress and necessity to the federal crime of prison escape, if the appropriate prerequisites for assertion of either defense were met. See ante, at 410-413. Given the universal acceptance of these defenses in the common law, I have no difficulty in concluding that Congress intended the defenses of duress and necessity to be available to persons accused of committing the federal crime of escape.
I agree with most of the Court's comments about the essential elements of the defenses. I, too, conclude that intolerable prison conditions are to be taken into account through affirmative defenses of duress and necessity, rather than by way of the theory of intent espoused by the Court of Appeals. That court's conclusion that intent to avoid the normal aspects of confinement is an essential element of the offense of escape means that the burden of proof is on the Government to prove that element. According to our precedents, e. g., Mullaney v. Wilbur, 421 U.S. 684 (1975), the Government would have to prove that intent beyond a reasonable doubt. It is unlikely that Congress intended to place this difficult burden on the prosecution. The legislative history is sparse, and does not specifically define the requisite intent. Circumstances that compel or coerce a person to
I also agree with the Court that the absence of reasonable less drastic alternatives is a prerequisite to successful assertion of a defense of necessity or duress to a charge of prison escape. One must appreciate, however, that other realistic avenues of redress seldom are open to the prisoner. Where prison officials participate in the maltreatment of an inmate, or purposefully ignore dangerous conditions or brutalities inflicted by other prisoners or guards, the inmate can do little to protect himself. Filing a complaint may well result in retribution, and appealing to the guards is a capital offense under the prisoners' code of behavior.
I, too, conclude that the jury generally should be instructed that, in order to prevail on a necessity or duress defense, the defendant must justify his continued absence from custody, as well as his initial departure. I agree with the
The rationale of the necessity defense is a balancing of harms. If the harm caused by an escape is less than the harm caused by remaining in a threatening situation, the prisoner's initial departure is justified. The same rationale should apply to hesitancy and failure to return. A situation may well arise where the social balance weighs in favor of the prisoner even though he fails to return to custody. The escapee at least should be permitted to present to the jury the possibility that the harm that would result from a return to custody outweighs the harm to society from continued absence.
Even under the Court's own standard, the defendant in an escape prosecution should be permitted to submit evidence to the jury to demonstrate that surrender would result in his being placed again in a life- or health-threatening situation. The Court requires return to custody once the "claimed duress or necessity had lost its coercive force." Ante, at 413, 415. Realistically, however, the escapee who reasonably believes that surrender will result in return to what concededly is an intolerable prison situation remains subject to the same "coercive force" that prompted his escape in the first instance. It is ironic to say that that force is automatically "lost" once the prison wall is passed.
Finally, I of course must agree with the Court that use of the jury is to be reserved for the case in which there is sufficient evidence to support a verdict. I have no difficulty, however, in concluding that respondents here did indeed submit sufficient evidence to support a verdict of not guilty, if the jury were so inclined, based on the necessity defense. Respondent Bailey testified that he was in fear for his life, that he was afraid he would still face the same threats if he turned himself in, and that "[t]he FBI was telling my people that they was going to shoot me." App. 176.
In conclusion, my major point of disagreement with the Court is whether a defendant may get his duress or necessity
Ruling on a defense as a matter of law and preventing the jury from considering it should be a rare occurrence in criminal cases. "[I]n a criminal case the law assigns [the factfinding function] solely to the jury." Sandstrom v. Montana, 442 U.S. 510, 523 (1979). The jury is the conscience of society and its role in a criminal prosecution is particularly important. Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 156 (1968). Yet the Court here appears to place an especially strict burden of proof on defendants attempting to establish an affirmative defense to the charged crime of escape. That action is unwarranted. If respondents' allegations are true, society is grossly at fault for permitting these conditions to persist at the D. C. jail. The findings of researchers and government agencies, as well as the litigated cases, indicate that in a general sense these allegations are credible.
"Whoever escapes or attempts to escape from the custody of the Attorney General or his authorized representative, or from any institution or facility in which he is confined by direction of the Attorney General, or from any custody under or by virtue of any process issued under the laws of the United States by any court, judge, or magistrate, or from the custody of an officer or employee of the United States pursuant to lawful arrest, shall, if the custody or confinement is by virtue of an arrest on a charge of felony, or conviction of any offense, be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both; or if the custody or confinement is for extradition or by virtue of an arrest or charge of or for a misdemeanor, and prior to conviction, be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."
Respondents were also charged with violating 22 D. C. Code § 2601 (1973), the District of Columbia's statute proscribing escape from prison. The District Court instructed the juries that if they found the respondents guilty of violating 18 U. S. C. § 751 (a) they should not consider the charges under 22 D. C. Code § 2601.
"Coercion which would excuse the commission of a criminal act must result from:
"1) Threathening [sic] conduct sufficient to create in the mind of a reasonable person the fear of death or serious bodily harm;
"2) The conduct in fact caused such fear of death or serious bodily harm in the mind of the defendant;
"3) The fear or duress was operating upon the mind of the defendant at the time of the alleged act; and
"4) The defendant committed the act to avoid the threatened [sic] harm."
The alleged facts in this case appear to be typical. Respondent Bailey filed suit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to "stop the administrators from threatening my life." App. 176. Bailey testified that the suit caused the guards to threaten him in an attempt to persuade him to withdraw the action, to beat him, and to transfer him to the mental ward. Id., at 154-155. Bailey's suit subsequently was dismissed with prejudice. Brief for Respondents 15-16, n. 7.
"A I was in fear of my life. I know that if I turned myself in I would still be under the threats of death. Always knew that the FBI wanted to kill me, after I escaped, so I was in limbo. I didn't know what to do. I did have some people call to the officials at the jail on several occasions.
"Q Let me ask you a question: You stated that you never surrendered yourself, because you were still fearful of the threats?
"A That is right.
"Q Did you understand where you would be returned to?
"A Yes, sir.
"A The new detention center, 1901 D Street, Southeast.
"Q What section?
"A Northeast 1.
"Q Did you know who the guards would be?
"A The same officers that was there before I left.
"Q Did you ever hear that the FBI was looking for you?
"A Yes, I did.
"Q Didn't you feel that you could tell the FBI that you didn't want to return to the D. C. Jail in Northeast 1?
"A No. The FBI was telling my people that they was going to shoot me." App. 175-176.
"Q To whom?
"A Like I ain't do it per se. But, like when I went home, you know, my people called and I told them that I had, I told them what happened. Why I had done it. They was mad. I told them why I had done it. They understood, but they called and never got in touch with anybody.
"Q Did you ever make any attempt to call anybody, yourself?
"A I don't know nobody to call. I'm thinking like this here: They don't like me in the jail. Ain't nobody I can call.
"Q Why did you not call anybody at the jail?
"A For what?
"Q Did you feel that there would be any purpose in doing that?
"A It wouldn't have been none. They probably came and got me, and then make me try to run and they shoot me in half when they come and get me.
"Q So you feared for your life. You could not call for that reason?
"A That is right.
"Q Did you ever leave Washington, D. C., after you left the jail?
"A No." Id., at 119.
"Now, there is one more issue that I want to briefly touch on here and that is the fact that after I was released from the detention facility I did in fact contact the proper authorities. I contacted the FBI on a number of occasions. As a matter of fact I kept a constant rapport with the FBI. I had people who had told me that they had brought this information to my sisters that the FBI said that if they ran down on me they was going to kill me. So, in actuality I was never out of immediate danger. I was never out of immediate threat of losing my life. If I would have given myself up I had this FBI threat to contend with and I also had to go back over to the same jail that I had just left from, and this was the reason that I consequently never turned myself into the authorities. That is my testimony.
"Q Mr. Walker, do you know the names of the individuals in the FBI that you retained this constant rapport with during the course of your escape?
"A One of them was an Officer Troy or Fauntroy, or something of that nature. I don't know if that is his exact name or not.
"Q When did you call him, sir?
"A I called him the second day after I was out, and after that I had occasion to call him on several different occasions.
"Q Did you identify yourself at those times?
"A Yes, I identified myself.
"Q Did you indicate where you were?
"A No, I didn't indicate where I was.
"Q Did you tell him that you were going to surrender yourself?
"A I told him that I would surrender myself if I wasn't being subjected to the same conditions and put on the same penitentiary that I had just left from.
"Q How many days did you call this gentleman?
"A I don't know. I called him two or three different times during the period that I was in the streets.
"Q You were out until December 13th, is that correct?
"A I think that is the date.
"Q Now, sir, where did you make the phone call from to the FBI?
"A I made the first one from a public phone booth.
"Q How did you know what number to call, sir? Did you look it up in the directory?
"A I looked it up in the directory.
"Q Did you ask for anybody in particular at the FBI?
"A No, I just asked to speak to someone on the warrant squad or someone who was connected with escapees.
"Q Would the name Fluharty, does that ring a bell? Would that name Fluharty ring a bell with you as the name of a gentleman you may have spoken to, if you spoke to someone?
"A Sounds halfway familiar.
"Q Exactly what did you tell him, sir?
"A I explained to him that I was one of the four gentlemen that had escaped from the detention facility on August 26th, because of the conditions that existed there.
"I explained to him how terminal the conditions were there and asked him was it any kind of way that I could get with him to make some type of arrangements as far as turning myself in, if I wouldn't have to go back to the detention facility at 1901 D Street, Southeast and also asked him had there been anything issued concerning, or had he told a man named Earl Berman, whether or not the FBI—or, did he have knowledge that anybody at the FBI had told Mr. Earl Berman that he had intended to kill me if I was arrested.
"Q Who is Earl Berman, sir?
"A Earl Berman is a personal friend of mine.
"Q Are you saying that Mr. Berman told you that the FBI was going to kill you?
"A Yes, he did. He didn't tell me, but he told my sister and my sister related this information to me.
"Q So, you heard it third-hand?
"A Yes, I heard it second-hand.
"BY MR. SCHAARS:
"Q Now, sir, when exactly was the first time that you called Agent Fluharty or someone by the name of Fauntroy with the FBI?
"A The second day I was out.
"Q Would that be on the 28th, sir?
"A That would be on the 28th.
"Q Do you recall about what time of day it was, sir?
"A I don't know. It was in the early morning hours. I would say have to be between 4:00 and 6:00.
"Q A. M., sir?
"A A. M.
"Q And, do you know [how] long your conversation lasted at that point?
"A It had—no longer than a three-minute duration at the most.
"Q And you did identify yourself?
"A I did identify myself.
"Q When was the second time that you spoke to somebody from the FBI?
"A Approximately a week and a half later.
"Q Would it be fair to say that that would be about ten days later, sir?
"A I think that would be fair.
"Q To whom did you speak at that time?
"A To the same person.
"Q Did you ask for him at that time, sir or—
"A Yes, I did. I had called the FBI building previous to that, told them that I was going to call.
"Q Do you recall what time of day you called at that time, sir?
"A It was about 2:00 in the afternoon.
"Q How long did your conversation take at that time?
"A No more than a three-minute duration then.
"Q Did you identify yourself, sir?
"A Yes, I identified myself.
"Q At that time did you indicate to Agent Fluharty that you were going to turn yourself in?
"A I indicated to him if he could work out the conditions for which I wanted to turn myself in, I would turn myself in.
"Q What were the conditions?
"A Those conditions would be the fact that I wouldn't be harmed by any agent of the FBI, I wouldn't be taken back to the detention facility, 1901 D Street, Southeast.
"Q Did there come a time that you spoke to somebody from the FBI again?
"A Yes, there did.
"Q When was that, sir?
"A I would say that would have been about a month later.
"Q Would that be mid-October, sir, or late October or mid-November? I'm sorry, I don't mean to confuse you.
"A It was in—it was in October. I don't know whether it was late or—It was around—it was in October, around, between the middle and first part of October.
"Q Now, whom did you speak to at that time, sir?
"A The same guy.
"Q Agent Fluharty?
"A I assume that is his name.
"Q It was somebody on the warrant or escape squad that you were speaking to each time, sir?
"A I assume that he was.
"Q Did you ask specifically for somebody on that squad the first time you called?
"A The first time I called I did.
"Q And the second time, did you ask for the same agent by name?
"A Yes, I did.
"Q And the third time, did you ask for the same agent by name?
"Q Now, sir, on that third occasion did you offer to come down and turn yourself in?
"A Under certain specified conditions.
"Q The same conditions as you have indicated on the two prior occasions?
"A The very same conditions.
"Q Now, sir, did there come a time when you called the FBI again?
"A To my recollection. no.
"Q So, from the beginning to the middle of October, whenever that third phone call occurred, to December 13th, you had no contact with the FBI?
"A To my recollection, no.
"Q Did you call any other law enforcement agency during that period of time, sir?
"A No, I didn't.
"Q Did you ever appear in any court of the District of Columbia to turn yourself in during that period of time?
"A No, I didn't.
"Q Did you ever talk to a minister or a priest or any kind of religious leader in an effort to turn yourself in during that period of time?
"A Yes, I did. I'm a minister myself.
"Q You are, sir? Did you speak to another member of your faith, a minister?
"A Yes, I did.
"Q To whom did you speak, sir?
"A I don't want to give his name at this time. I don't want to incriminate him as far as anything, as far as my escape and everything is concerned. You'd have him up here for a charge.
"Q Did you tell that gentleman that you were going to turn yourself in?
"A I told him—I had discussed turning myself in with a member of the FBI and I thought very seriously about it, if the conditions that I had specified to you could be worked out.
"Q When you spoke to this gentleman from the FBI, did he ever indicate that he would agree to those conditions?
"A No, he didn't.
"Q Did he indicate that he would agree with anything?
"A He indicated that he would agree that I wouldn't be harmed by any members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but that he couldn't agree that I wouldn't be taken back to the detention facility, 1901 D Street.
"Q So, he did promise you that the FBI wasn't going to hurt you?
"A Yes, he told me that the FBI wouldn't hurt me.
"Q Did you have any contact with a warrant squad officer of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections during your period of elopment [sic]?
"A Not to my recollection, unless he is part of that warrant squad." App. 195-200.