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MEXICO: The rule of law without formal government

In an impassioned reply to Elias Castillo, Tom Grey correctly says that our much praised jury system is based on the justice of the elders, that Mexico does not have enough police to ensure that justice is done throughout the land, and that imperfect justice is better than no justice. Here are his conclusions: "Elias Castillo is wrong about the Mexican police needing to arrest and try the elders. Every "justice system" has two types of errors: false acquitalls; false convictions - guilty who are unpunished; innocents who are wrongly punished. Unfortunately, the more the system is skewed to avoid false convictions, which is the more humane bias, the more guilty will be free. Mr. Castillo adds another error, too severely punishing the guilty; the article also mentions too light punishment-- $100 fine for rapists, for example.

The article mentions accused murderers who were handed over to the police (in another village), and 3 months later the accused (killers) are free again. There is a report of two murders occurring, and the police getting in their helicopter to go investigate; the local police chief says it is extremely unlikely that anybody will be caught, and even less likely punished.

Most civilized countries include some kind of jury, or group decision on matters of justice, and the decision process of the elders seems to echo and be approaching this fine tradition. Since Mexico does NOT have the resources, today, to try all the village murders - which is better, to let the guilty go completely free, as the many other murderers have been allowed liberty, or to punish him? If I have just those two, real choices today, between acquittal or the elders' verdict of death by live burial in victim's grave, I support the elders. Does Mr. Castillo support freedom for the murderer, and the other past murderers, and all future murderers, until a Mexican justice system covers all the villages?"

Ronald Hilton - 3/29/02