Race, Class and Prison

31 03 2010

Category: Criminal Law, Politics

Image from Texas Tough

The British Justice Minister was on the radio this morning proudly boasting about how long British prisoners are locked up for.

We sentence people for much longer in this country than in Europe and I am unapologetic about that   – Jack Straw

It’s a policy Britain imported from America.

Between 1965 and 2000, the US prison population went up 600%. The growth in Texas was double that. According to a new book by Robert Perkinson (Texas Tough; the Rise of a Prison Empire) it’s a victory for a penal policy that evolved from slavery.

After the defeat of the South in the Civil War, states began to use law enforcement as a way of retaining slavery by other means. Prisoners were hired out to work; cutting sugarcane, picking cotton, building railroads.

Whites were hired out too but generally for less backbreaking work. There was a Northern model too; based on rehabilitation. The South’s won out… Read the rest of this entry »

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Rowan Laxton Retrial

25 03 2010

Category: anti-semitism, criminal law, middle east, rowan laxton


To call Rowan Laxton’s second trial an ‘appeal’ could sound misleading. It was a brand new trial, from scratch. Everyone convicted in the magistrates court has the right to this. The whole case is brought again and decided on again.

I’ve had the chance to read some more about the judgment here. I’m puzzled by it.

The bench held that he either didn’t say ‘f——- Jews’ or if he did say it he didn’t think anyone would have been able to hear him.

That sounds like the sort of judgment Bishop Berkeley or Monty Python might come up with – ‘I didn’t do it, and if I did do it I didn’t think anyone would notice me doing it.’… Read the rest of this entry »





Rowan Laxton – No Conviction

24 03 2010

Category: anti-semitism, criminal law, middle east, ROWAN LAXTON

It’s ironic that minutes after publishing a post noting that Rowan Laxton had the very best legal representation there is, word came through to me that his conviction had been overturned on appeal.

The appeal was heard at Southwark Crown Court on 5th March 2010. Read the rest of this entry »





Accidental Death of a Cyclist and Unenforced Laws

9 01 2010

Category: Law, Criminal Law, Cycling

© Danny McL

Maria Fernandez, 24, was crushed to death in June 2009 when a bin lorry which had driven onto the cyclists advance stop box failed to spot her. (click to see report on her inquest)

It’s always bothered me that there doesn’t seem to be any enforcement of the advanced stop lines and, as a result, very little observance of the rule. In my time as a criminal barrister (including for the Crown Prosecution Service) I never once came across anyone being prosecuted. Read the rest of this entry »





Rowan Laxton and Too Many Laws

21 10 2009

Category: Law, Politics, Criminal Law, Rowan Laxton

The case of Rowan Laxton (see below) highlights how complicated criminal law has become: When I read all the coverage I wasn’t exactly sure what he’d been charged with.


The Press all said it was ‘Racially Aggravated Harassment,’ Isn’t that what he was charged with?

Racially aggravated harassment could actually cover a number of things… Read the rest of this entry »