Judge's fine alternative was 'violation of bodily integrity,' ethics complaint alleges

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The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed an ethics complaint against an Alabama judge who told offenders they could get a $100 credit toward their fines if they gave blood at a mobile center outside the courthouse.

The complaint alleges the offer by Judge Marvin Wiggins of Marion, Alabama, was “a violation of bodily integrity,” the New York Times reports.

The Times says Wiggins made the offer after greeting offenders at the Sept. 17 hearing. “For your consideration, there’s a blood drive outside,” he said. “If you don’t have any money, go out there and give blood and bring in a receipt indicating you gave blood.”

Those who couldn’t pay and didn’t want to give blood had another alternative. “The sheriff has enough handcuffs,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins said those who gave blood should bring a receipt showing their donation to the clerk, and they would receive a $100 credit toward fines. But a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Sara Zampierin, said she had reviewed the records of a few people who had given blood and none received the promised credit.

Required blood donations for defendants was once common, particularly during World War II. Fears about the spread of hepatitis led to changes, however. Now blood given in exchange for compensation is labeled “paid,” and hospitals generally refuse to use such blood for transfusions.

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