Prisoners can now appeal murder sentences
The law on joint enterprise has been misapplied for the past 30 years, the Supreme Court ruled last week, meaning some prisoners could now lodge appeals. The BBC called it a “moment of genuine legal history”.
There has been much speculation since that hundreds of prisoners convicted using the law will now be released. But is that what will really happen?
A complex and controversial law is being used to jail many ethnic minority and poor people. Many say it is unjust.
Is it really possible that a law originally devised to stop aristocrats from dueling is now being used to lock up working class people and ethnic minorities?
The law is called joint enterprise. Three hundred years ago it was used to charge doctors and others attending a duel with murder along with the duelists themselves. Now it is mostly used against ‘gangs’ in urban areas.
But many people from judges to MPs to QCs to campaigners say it’s an unjust law that targets the most marginalised sections of society and leads to miscarriages of justice.