Clean up the mess

20 05 2010

Category: Politics, Law

The British Deputy Prime Minister has announced that some of the thousands of laws created by the last government will be scaled back.

Good thing too. There are plenty that can be got rid of, but in terms of criminal law it’s the absurd complexity that needs to be addressed head on.

I’ve devoted several posts on this blog to someone who was charged with the most minor criminal offence possible. That case was interesting for other reasons, but the procedures highlight what an unwieldy monster the criminal justice system has become.

I’ll try and break down the case so you can see what I mean… Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »





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 »