The “criminal courts charge” is criminalising poverty but where’s the justice?

It’s not only the monstrous and still widening wealth inequality gap that is now the same as in 19th century Britain; it’s also our debtors’ prisons. Introduced by stealth towards the final days of the coalition government by Tory imbecile in chief Chris Grayling, the ‘criminal courts charge’ is leading to the unnecessary imprisonment of the poorest and is causing a crisis in magistrates courts across England and Wales.

chris grayling moj

“More than 50 magistrates are understood to have resigned from the bench in recent weeks amid an extraordinary judicial revolt against new court charges which critics claim encourage innocent people to plead guilty.

Pressure to reform the criminal courts charge, which was introduced earlier this year, has increased as more cases emerge of impoverished people being forced to pay hundreds of pounds for minor offences – in addition to any fines.

Audio © BBC

A Crown Court judge and Britain’s most senior criminal barrister have now joined those voicing opposition to the charge, which they say is “extremely unfair” and could “trigger more crime” when applied to the poorest in society by forcing them to steal to cover the cost of the penalty.

The Independent can reveal that defendants recently required to pay the charge include a man from Sunderland who threw himself in front of an off-duty policeman’s car in a suicide attempt.

He had been waiting for a lorry to take his life, but when none came along he jumped in front of a car and ended up in court for causing criminal damage to the vehicle. Gavin Lee, 26, was forced by Sunderland magistrates’ court to pay a £180 court charge – as well as £425 in insurance excess for the driver’s Mercedes. Lee, who had no previous convictions, was also charged for possessing drugs.

The new levy was introduced by the former Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, to make criminals pay for the upkeep of the courts. Campaigners hope that his successor, Michael Gove, will consider ditching or reforming the measure as evidence grows that it unfairly penalises those whose crimes are motivated by poverty.”

The Independent 27 September 2015

Grayling, one of the most intellectually barren minister’s that this country has seen in my lifetime, lifted this miserable charge from the “municipal fines” regimes operating in the United States where their iniquitous effects have proved highly controversial.

To watch the clip use the password: imincorrigible

Video © HBO

The criminal courts charge is one more front in David Cameron’s all out war against the poorest in our society. His brand of ‘compassionate’ conservatism is a disgrace and shames us as a nation and it’s time to shutdown this “fuck barrel” politics.

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