English justice today

What else can you expect under the current regime? A UK government White Paper on criminal justice proposes to limit jury trial, keep dangerous and sexual offenders in prison indefinitely if judged a risk to the public, abolish the “double jeopardy” rule for serious cases, and allow “hearsay” evidence in court.

As the author points out, though, it’s less the specific recommendations than the tone of the report that is alarming. Modern government is social management on behalf of a populace that has to be looked after, so the report is much less concerned with justice than with managing situations in a way that protects victims. As the piece says,

All of this is working towards a criminal justice system that is more and more informal. Justice for All seems to want the criminal justice system to become part of the community. It doesn’t want to pass judgement in a dispassionate way; it wants to become part of people’s lives.

A criminal justice system that is here to help you. Not at all the same thing as one that maintains the formality and distance from everyday life that a free and self-governing people would demand.

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