British juries to learn sex offenders' prior offenses

The British government indicated Monday that it will be presenting a new law to Parliament which will entitle juries in child sex abuse and theft cases to know whether defendants have any prior convictions for similar offenses. At present juries are rarely told of previous convictions because of a fear that such knowledge will hinder a defendant's right to fair trial. Prime Minister Tony Blair said the new rule is "designed to make it clear that we're not going to have people playing the system and getting away with criminal offenses that cause real misery." Human rights activists argue the changes are dangerous and will take away a defendant's right to a fair trial. Read the Home Office press release announcing the proposed legislation here. BBC News has more.

 

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