In a page ripped from a Hollywood film about a broken criminal justice system, a judge in Marion, Alabama is under fire for ordering poor offenders to donate blood or go to jail, according to The New York Times.
Circuit Judge Marvin Wiggins reportedly made the order in September before a packed courtroom comprised of offenders, “who owed fines or fees for a wide variety of crimes — hunting after dark, assault, drug possession and passing bad checks among them,” notes the report.
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,” began Judge Wiggins, a circuit judge here in rural Alabama since 1999. “For your consideration, there’s a blood drive outside,” he continued, according to a recording of the hearing. “If you don’t have any money, go out there and give blood and bring in a receipt indicating you gave blood.”
For those who had no money or did not want to give blood, the judge concluded: “The sheriff has enough handcuffs.”
Wiggins’ order is emblematic of complaints from poor and working-class people about exorbitant fines and orders imposed upon them by an inequitable criminal justice system, which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.
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.
Wiggins, who declined to speak to The Times, has been meting out so-called justice in the community for 16 years, which raises questions about what other harsh penalties he has dispensed from the bench.