In Alabama, A Blood Sucking Judge

Judge: 'If you don't have money, you can pay your fine in BLOOD!' Wait...WHAT?

Judge: ‘If you don’t have money, you can pay your fine in BLOOD!’ Wait…WHAT?

Not to hold you in suspense, this is unethical. In fact, it’s incredibly unethical.

In Alabama,  Perry County Circuit Judge Marvin Wiggins is prevented by Alabama law from jailing those who owe a debt to the state.t—debtors prison was abolished long ago. Wagner, however, has been recorded in his court telling indigent parties owing money  that they have the option of contributing their blood or paying up, and if they opt for neither, “he sheriff will have handcuffs waiting” for them.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a judicial ethics compliant, Explained the SPLC on its website.

“Defendants in more than 500 criminal cases, which can be as minor as hunting violations, were mailed notices to appear before Wiggins on Sept. 17. Dozens showed up to pack the courtroom for a hearing on the restitution, fines, court costs and fees they still owed. When Wiggins took the bench, he offered defendants with empty pockets and full veins an option.Wiggins said to consider the option of giving blood “a discount rather than putting you in jail.” However, no one who donated blood received any “discount” on their court debt; they simply received a reprieve from being thrown in jail. Most of the people in the courtroom still owed thousands of dollars to the court – even after years of making payments, according to the complaint. Virtually every case included fees that indigent defendants had been charged to recoup money for their court-appointed counsel, the complaint states. Without speaking to the judge about their financial situation, many indigent defendants gave blood out of fear of going to jail.”

The complaint outlines several ethics violations, SPLC says, including failure to demonstrate professional competence and failure to uphold the integrity of the law. It also describes how forced blood donations violate the U.S. and Alabama constitutions. I would think that most educated American could name several of these. Due Process? No law exists making forfeiture of blood a legal penalty for anything. Cruel and usual punishment, per the 8th Amendment?

If this is allowed, why stop there? Why not allow the penalties for crimes to include body parts and organs? “I’d give my right arm not to go to jail again!”

“Deal!”

Judicial ethics and the Constitution aside, the judge’s conduct sets off a cacophony of other ethics alarms. did no one else hear them? The New York Times reports,

Efforts by courts and local governments to generate revenue by imposing fines for minor offenses, particularly from poor and working-class people, have attracted widespread attention and condemnation in recent months. But legal and health experts said they could not think of another modern example of a court all but ordering offenders to give blood in lieu of payment, or face jail time. They all agreed that it was improper.

“What happened is wrong in about 3,000 ways,” said Arthur L. Caplan, a professor of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, part of New York University. “You’re basically sentencing someone to an invasive procedure that doesn’t benefit them and isn’t protecting the public health.”

In addition to threatening an illegal jailing to extort the poor into giving their blood, it appears that the judge didn’t complete his end of the deal. Defendants were told they a would receive $100 discount for their debt in exchange for proof of donating blood,  but the SPLC says no records of such discounts exist

Carl Crocker, who was among those who owed money to the court and who made the recordings of the Judge Wiggins announcing his special alternative to paying, recounted seeing one older man pass out after his blood was taken. It seems that nobody refused to give blood, however, on September 17, when the recording was made. No one chose jail over blood. The court clerk told reporters that there was never any intent to jail anyone, which means the judge lied. Add that to the list of judicial misconduct, along with making up laws, cruel and unusual punishment, abuse of power and the rest.

Then, as a special bonus, this:  Crocker also  recorded the employees of the mobile blood bank, who seemed to have full knowledge of the sentence-reduction arrangement. He recognized the blood bank as LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, which had recently lost a $4 million judgment for giving an H.I.V.-tainted blood transfusion.

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Sources: SPLC, New York Times, Examiner

7 thoughts on “In Alabama, A Blood Sucking Judge

  1. Another inherent unfairness, some may not be allowed to give blood, like diabetics. Whoops! Here’s your handcuffs and cheap starchy foods to make it worse.

    • Diabetics, or homosexuals, or anyone who’s spent time in Great Britain during certain years, people who’ve recently had certain vaccinations, though they have eased up on the rules on people who have tattoos.

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