PRESS RELEASE - JENGbA (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association) 7 December 2011
Lord Judge said: "It seems to me, perhaps the real problem is with the law of murder itself.
"It's particularly difficult and troublesome when more than one person is said to be involved, a joint enterprise murder.
"Who is guilty of murder when four people, three people, surround somebody? The one who kicks, the one who suddenly produces the knife - the offensive weapon that causes the death - the one who eggs on the one who's got the knife, the one who says to him, 'For God's sake...'?" he added.
"It's complicated too by the various defences. These are all extremely complicated when they're put together in the one case."
(Extracted from http://t.co/hPw2HYCF)
This is the reaction of campaign group JENGbA (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association) to the report of the Homicide Review Advisory Group, (6 December 2011). The report recommends that ‘mandatory’ life sentences are replaced with Judges having the right to decide on sentences, depending on the circumstances of the case.
The Homicide Review Advisory Group is made up of Judges, Academics and QCs. It suggests the system does not allow for sentences to match individual crimes. JENGbA's concern is that instead Joint Enterprise allows for anyone at the scene of a crime, or with an association with the perpetrator to be prosecuted in the same way and then sentenced as the same, and does so with little or no regard to their actual culpability.
This is an important part of the debate about sentencing. If there was proper discretion, then Judges would not have to give a life sentence for cases of 'association'. JENGbA is actively campaigning to change the law on Joint Enterprise. A law that means innocent bystanders can, and have been dragged into serious criminal cases merely by some association, and not necessarily a criminal association to the perpetrator. The public are not aware of this law and, therefore, do not understand how it is being used or that in its current state is convicting innocent people. The Nuffield Report released earlier this year also goes someway in explaining this.
Trials become overly complicated as all defendants are put together on the same charge, often leaving juries with no choice but to convict all the defendants, even when it is obvious the offence was committed by a single perpetrator. Education and debate is crucial and campaigners believe the issue can no longer be ignored. As it stands it leaves a heavy and unnecessary burden on the taxpayer, destroys the lives of families and leaves communities with no trust in the Police or the Justice system.
Gloria Morrison, JENGbA Coordinator says
"The UK's most senior judge has expressed concerns relating to joint enterprise convictions. JENGbA is representing prisoners who have been convicted under joint enterprise and their families. We have been contacted by over 270 prisoners many of whom are serving life sentences for something they did not do, did not foresee was going to happen nor intend to happen, but have been convicted by an archaic law that is being abused to get convictions and not justice. The public are NOT aware that there are people in prison serving disproportionate sentences for an offence where there was no evidence to convict them so joint enterprise is used as a catch all for convictions".
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CALL
Gloria Morrison on 07709115793 or Janet Cunliffe on 07729033890