Random justice 1

April 8, 2005

How quaint to see Whig history flourishing among anthropologists at Cambridge ("Peer power in a costume drama", April 1).

Alan Macfarlane neglects to mention how punitive the English legal system was compared with those of its European neighbours, a tradition we continue to uphold by locking up more people than any other Western European state.

The inquisitorial system as it developed in continental Europe was concerned with establishing the facts and finding the truth, and it largely avoided the excesses of a system of community justice that targeted people thought to be a nuisance.

Stuart Carroll
York University

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