Thursday, April 20, 2006

A few thoughts on the Criminal Justice System

Charles Clarke has issued a blizzard of ropy initiatives over the last few days that range from the inept to the immoral via the ineffective. His plan to restrict or eliminate the concept of state compensation for wrongful imprisonment if the sentence is overturned by the first appeal has been comprehensively demolished by normally calm and detached commentators like Tim and Chris, while the response of the DK was rather more graphic than I needed to see.

It is, of course, an iniquitous idea that the State feels it has the right to destroy an individuals livelihood, remove his freedom and in most cases deprive him of his house on an incorrect judgement. The savings involved are fiscally irrelevant, and the moral point is scandalously unjust.

He now has displayed his fundamental lack of understanding of the criminal justice process.

I propose to examine whether and if so to what extent an error in the trial process necessarily means a miscarriage of justice.

The point here is that the huge mechanism of the state is arraigned against an individual accused of a crime. If the state makes a hash of the prosecution that is the responsibility of the state, not of the individual. The most important Act here, Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), is designed to give the police guidelines within which it can operate. If it breaches those guidelines (by tricking a confession or entrapment for example) a crucial line in the relationship between state and citizen is crossed.

Clarke once whinged that he had spent too much of his life being patronised by lawyers. A suggestion might be to get off his fat arse and read up on the law. It is supposed to be his job after all. Fucker.


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