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.
Posted by Jim Kalb at July 20, 2002 09:49 AM | Send

Hobhouse (one of them) described modern liberalism as aiming at harmony, not liberty. I wonder if such a valuation of harmony at the expense of liberty can be correlated with Voegelin’s cosmological civilizations, in which the deities were part of an order of the world, unlike the transcendent deity of the Israelites. The legal system described above trends toward an adjustment of competing wordly interests, and away from responsibility to a transcendent law.

Posted by: Bill Carpenter on August 20, 2003 6:40 PM

That’s an extremely interesting suggestion. It does seem that contemporary liberalism abolishes the transcendent in favor of a wholly this-worldly order. The human world becomes its own self-ordering cosmos. If that’s so though there ought to be analogies to early cosmological civilizations. One should compare and contrast!

Posted by: Jim Kalb on August 20, 2003 7:23 PM
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