Paying for Wrongful Incarceration?!?

 Posted by on 17 March 2004 at 8:58 am  Uncategorized
Mar 172004

I just heard about this astonishing story on the “Political Grapevine” section of Special Report with Brit Hume. Apparently, Britain’s Labor Home Secretary is attempting (via the courts) to force people wrongfully imprisoned for crimes they did not commit to pay for the costs of their incarceration. So the more of your life that was taken from you, the more you owe the government for the privilege of eating prison food and sleeping in prison beds. Of course, you were likely financially ruined by the trial and appeals… and you weren’t exactly raking in the dough in prison. But pay up, brother!

Here’s one man’s story:

Robert Brown was just a 19-year-old from Glasgow when he was jailed for life for murdering a woman called Annie Walsh in Manchester in 1977. He served 25 years before he was finally freed in 2002, when the courts ruled him innocent of the crime.

He is now facing a bill of around £80,000 for the living expenses he cost the state. For Brown, it is the final straw. An interim payment he was given pending his full compensation offer is exhausted; his mother recently died; his relationship with his girlfriend has fallen apart and he is facing eviction from his home following a mix-up over benefits.

“I feel like ending my life,” he says. “I’ve tried to maintain my dignity, but the state has treated me with nothing but contempt – now they are asking me for money for my bed and board in jail.

“I never contemplated suicide once while I was in prison, but it’s different on the outside. I have received no counselling or support. Society is treating me like something you’d wipe off the bottom of your shoes, but I’m an innocent man and a victim of a terrible injustice.

“It’s horrific. I’ve been out of jail for 14 months and in that time the state has put me through a war of attrition that it never needed to conduct. I feel my life is disintegrating around me.

“Making me pay for my bed and board is abhorrent. I was arrested, fitted up and held hostage for 25 years and now they are going to charge me for being kept as their prisoner against my will.

John McManus of the Scottish Miscarriage of Justice Organisation put his finger on the issue in saying that the government seems “to want to punish people for having the audacity to be innocent.” Well, perhaps that’s no surprise, given that they also want to punish people for the audacity of defending themselves against criminals.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha