Friday, May 29, 2015

Justice System Reform Is Suddenly Everywhere On The Front Burner

Posted by Peter Quennell

1. The Justice System In The US


2. The Justice System In Mexico


3. The Justice System In China


4. The Justice System In Turkey


5. The Justice System In Britain


Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/29/15 at 02:31 AM in Justice systemsItalian systemUS etc systems


That theres a growing crisis seems widely recognised. That theres light at the end of the tunnel anywhere seems less so.

From Italy a lot could be learned (it has one of the worlds lowest rates of crime & especially recidivism) but could use some serious streamlining first.

Regarding the US, this is early days. There really isnt much of a mechanism for a reboot of justice.

Corporations are very guarded about their systems and blow smoke to fool other corporations as to how they do things, and there is way too much of a tendency to create scorched earth around them (look at Walmart abd Microsoft).

But in “functional” or productive sectors (industries) areas there are associations for each industry which share “best practice” to some extent.

Cities learning from cities works to some extent. States learning from states the same.

Maybe the worst and least helpful players are at federal level (where I work now and then) where their distance from the population and working edge and nitty-gritty of systems are too remote and “solutions” way too top-down.

Nationally and globally justice is the least networked sector I have ever seen. Almost like a sector designed not to change.

I would simply multiply horizontally-linked working groups 10X for this or that system area and let them learn internally and globally and get on with the change.

We have talked often of Italian justice system reform and may draw up a suggestions list. A good way to start any reform process is just to be clear what actually exists.

Then start some international comparisons as Chimera did in several groundbreaking posts comparing Italy with Canada..

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/29/15 at 11:51 AM | #

Good Friday to you Peter

The problem with justice reform is the same everywhere. The people relied upon to draft the reforms are very often the very same people who have a vested interest in things remaining as they are. Namely the spiv and shyster lawyers who most often have the most to gain from a system which purports to be there to protect us when it’s really there to service the needs of the legal eagles.

Governments hire legal experts to draft reforms when the noise from the population rises above a grumble but inevitably these poachers turned gamekeepers build in some nice redundancies that they can then exploit when they finish their government contracts and go back on the poaching game.

The UK tax laws illustrate this perfectly. Over 10,000 pages long and with more loopholes than a box of fruit loop breakfast cereal. The conservative majority Government here in the UK included in their manifesto a commitment to repealing the widely hated (amongst the general populace) Human Rights Act in the UK. An act which in of itself seems to be noble in its intentions to enshrine basic human rights in UK law but which has, in actuality, proved to be more of a money printing press for swathes of lawyers defending a litany of unsavoury characters that the UK has been unable to remove from its soil due to their “right to a family life” in a UK which they often publicly state that they hate.

Hence the government’s desire to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights has already seen far more press and media coverage from the “this can’t possibly happen for these reasons” side than from “this Human Rights Act is clearly being abused by lawyers and defendants alike, it is ripe for reform” side. The game is rigged and the government have just kicked it into the long grass as a result. There is already talk that if it does reappear later in this parliament, the British Bill of Rights would be nothing more than a copy of the hated Human Rights Act, dressed in different clothes.

Truth is the government we have now in the UK never expected to achieve majority and included plenty in their manifesto that they never expected to have to keep to. I’m maybe over cynical Peter but I always take justice reform with an enormous pinch of salt. The perverse final verdict in poor Meredith’s case was merely the latest in a long line of justice manipulations that serve only to dampen my spirits further. I remain hopeful of meaningful reform everywhere but it’s largely a forlorn hope methinks.

Having watched Knox destroy that Zombie song in New York, I long more than ever for some kind of miracle in Italy where the Prime Minister steps in to right such an obviously terrible wrong. I won’t let that hope go. Apologies for the long rambling post, it was just a few thoughts that I needed to dump to clear my cache as it were. Keep up the brilliant work of this site, I still find it cathartic to read the posts from you and the other main players.

Posted by davidmulhern on 05/29/15 at 02:01 PM | #


It is the same story everywhere. There are three points:

1. Only the lawyers are competent to understand the laws and its nuances and they can never be held for use or abuse or misuse;

2. Nothing can be foolproof because fools are so smart (or something like that); a perfect law without any loophole is an abstract concept that does exist only in virtual reality. We plug one loophole and ten new ones pop up unexpectedly. But that is no reason not to revamp the system. After all, if we can close some leaks, we should!

3. Let us admit (disclaimer: I am not a lawyer) that crime and punishment has become a big business. It is my personal feeling that Americans are as corrupt (means honest) as Italians on the average and I am tempted to extend that to Somalia and some other countries. The conviction rates and prison populations are simply an “attitude problem” with the system and I mean the justice system.

Most common men hate to approach the courts- we simply dislike things that we do not fully understand. If every one goes by the book, then why the judgements are so unpredictable?

We dislike the judges because they often bring up one subjective aspect that no one has thought of earlier. We hate unpredictability. And most lawyer live on that unpredictability.

Basically, laws are meant for the masses and not for the lawyers. We have a long way to go…

Posted by chami on 05/30/15 at 08:07 PM | #

Interesting new book (so far, haven’t finished it yet!):

Posted by Odysseus on 05/31/15 at 08:11 PM | #

Hi David and Chami

Plus the weather! Eight hours with frequent long stops to drive 300 miles last night through a huge downpour arriving home at 1:00 in the morning…. Perceptions now are all dysfunctions have the same root cause and piecemeal solutions simply disappoint and wear us all out. There IS a way forward but among other things single sectors cant be made right in isolation or without masses of informed people to drive things. More tonight then.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/01/15 at 05:47 PM | #

Hi Odyseeues

Nick van der Fleet came to the case lately and had quite a jolt when it came to him (with no pressure from us, he merely kept digging) that Ground Report etc are essentially a series of huge hoaxes. Theres more of his ebooks to come. Do fire away, reviews welcome.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/01/15 at 05:51 PM | #


You are 100% right: NO piecemeal solution is ever going to work. I too believe that there IS a way forward and that starts with US. Unless we change ourselves from the bottom, how can we expect that the system is going to change? WE ARE the system and so often indistinguishable from it.

All changes must be organic. We have a long way to go.

Posted by chami on 06/02/15 at 10:36 AM | #


I totally agree with that. Grass roots change is what’s needed everywhere. Instead of that we hopelessly want politicians to change the world, forgetting that WE have to be the change we want to see in the world.

“The influence of a vital person vitalizes, there’s no doubt about it. The world without spirit is wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.” (Joseph Campbell).

Posted by Odysseus on 06/02/15 at 02:48 PM | #

Pete - Nice group of videos.  Thanks for the mention.  Part 4 is in the works (Canada v.s. the U.S).

As for Canadian perspective, here things have shifted somewhat in terms of keeping people in prison longer.  But I this distinction depends on whether or not there is a real victim in the crime.

However, many of the changes are very hard to argue politically:

-Multiple murder sentences now consecutive, not concurrent
-Harsher mandatory minimums for gun crimes
-Harsher mandatory minimums for sex crimes (esp. involving children)
-Mandatory minimums for drug trafficking
-Stripping of citizenship for terrorism/treason offences (the proposed ‘‘Omar Khadr law’‘).
-Making ‘‘Not Criminally Responsible’‘, or Insantiy defence much hard (based on Vince Li and others)
-House arrest, or ‘‘conditional sentencing’‘, removed as an option for serious violent offences
-Easier to deport non-Canadians convicted of crimes
-White collar fraud ($1 million +) now carries minimum jail time

On the lighter side:

-Marijuana closer to becoming decriminalized
-Sentencing alternatives for simple drug possession (not dealing)
-Possessing unregistered long guns no longer illegal
-Prostitution laws becoming weaker
-Still no abortion law on the books

However, legal access still remains outside the reaches of many, simply because it is not affordable.  In Ontario, for example, legal aid is available, but only if the crown asks for jail time (in the ‘‘screening’’ forms).  For minor charges, which could still end up in a criminal record, the person is on their own to defend themselves.  And many of the free ‘‘referral services’’ will let you talk to a lawyer for a short time, during which you will be given a sales pitch that you are screwed unless you hire me.

The flip side to the ‘‘zealous advocacy’’ required by provincial law societies ironically means that legal cases are protracted.  Longer cases means more expensive, and less options open to the people who need them.

Sadly, in a way, the criminal justice system sustains the livelihoods of many (police, lawyers, judges, court officers…), who have a vested interest against any real reform.  It would put many of them out of work if the crime rates plummeted.

Posted by Chimera on 06/03/15 at 02:06 AM | #

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