Jamaica’s Joke Of A Justice System:

Two women caught importing cocaine into Jamaica were on Thursday sentenced to 18 months in prison and slapped with heavy fines. Those convicted are 30-year-old Alecia Williams of May Pen, Clarendon; and 25-year-old Babeth Bowland of Alexandria, St Ann. The two pleaded guilty when they appeared before the Half-Way-Tree Criminal Court. The narcotics police had reported that on July 27, Bowland was returning to the island on a flight from Guyana; at Norman Manley International Airport; when she was stopped and searched.Nearly three pounds of cocaine was found in a pair of sneakers in her suitcase.The following day, Williams was returning on a flight from Trinidad; when she was also stopped and searched. The cops say she was found to be in possession of nearly two pounds of cocaine.In addition to their 18-month sentences, the two were each fined 650-thousand dollars. They will serve an additional six months in prison if they fail to pay the fines. Fri. Aug.05,2011 8:00pm(courtesy RJR news)

Mark Myrie aka (Buju Banton) a popular Jamaican Reggae Artist  was sentenced to 10 years in a Federal Prison on a charge of conspiracy to traffic Narcotics. Two women  convicted in Jamaica of actually being caught with pounds of cocaine. Myrie  a man who some argue was set up, had no cocaine in his physical or constructive possession. However there is a huge disparity in the sentences meted out in the two jurisdictions. My arguments are not whether I agree with the sentence given to mister Myrie, but rather the comparatively light sentence handed town to the two Jamaican women, for what I consider to be  more egregious crimes. As a former law enforcement officer I would sometime catch a weird glance from colleagues when I insisted that someone standing on a particular corner selling weed would not be allowed to be seen standing  there without risking arrest . Some would lightly banter that” it’s just weed Becks” . I respectfully disagreed that it wasn’t  just weed. Even as a young Officer in my early 20″s I understood that if one person is allowed to stand on a corner selling weed , pretty soon another will come, it’s just the nature of the game. As soon as there is competition there is animosity, jealousy, and anger,. Then guns come into play . If that is allowed to continue the crack dealers come, as it is now known as a drug spot , with the introduction of cocaine , crack and other narcotic drugs , comes the addicts, there goes the neighborhood, . Muggings, rapes, robberies, shootings, and pretty soon a once decent neighborhood is reduced to a bloody wasteland. All because one Police Officer did not do his job.Thinking it’s just weed.

The problem is not with the cannabis, or as we like to refer to it “weed’. The problem is with the people who deal in it. I am not qualified to argue one way or another on the merits or demerits of the weed, I have never smoked it , I have had it in the form of a tea , frankly I cannot make an argument for it’s effectiveness in any regard and so I will refrain from commenting on that aspect of it. What I do know is, if police officers did their jobs and removed weed sellers their jobs would be a lot easier. Jamaica presents a challenge to police, it is mountainous, with a resultant abundance of gullies, artificial and natural. There are insufficient roads , and even where there are roads there is an absence of  planning . A suspect running from the police have better than a 9-1 chance of winning that battle, because of the configuration of  the communities , even those that have been constructed within the last 20 years.

The Saint Catherine South Police, with responsibility for policing the sprawling unplanned communities that make up Portmore, and the more recent Greater Portmore communities, have bemoaned this fact. Even as the Police talk about the lack of vision in the design of these communities the National Housing trust continue to build with the same outdated design flaws. Residents are forced to park their cars away from their homes and walk down narrow alleyways and corridors to get to their homes. This puts their lives at tremendous risks , in crime infested communities of Waterford, Passage fort, and Ensome  city, Police are faced with the same challenges policing those communities. Communities like Arnett Gardens a people’s national party garrison, and Tivoli Gardens the notorious Jamaica labor Party stronghold have posed the same challenges to law enforcement since their inception. If police cannot effectively traverse the maze of alley-ways and foot-paths , coupled  with the Political pressure not to touch residents within those communities, it leaves one to wonder if the strategy behind these constructs was not a deliberate attempt at creating garrisons across Portmore and other areas. I speak to this issue of not taking the appropriate actions against perceived small stuff. And the consequence that emanate from  ignoring  those small stuff.

Under no consequence is it ever an appropriate sentence, the ones meted out to those two Jamaican women. When the potential harm from 2 or 3 pounds of cocaine is calculated  , how could any just person argue that those sentences weren’t mere slaps on the wrist. Does anyone wonder why some of our officers choose to accept a bribe and look the other way? Does anyone wonder why people who traffic in narcotics continue to engage in drug dealing? Does anyone wonder why citizens do not bother to report crimes ? Does anyone wonder why witnesses do not turn up to testify? Is there any wonder why criminals are emboldened to intimidate and even kill witnesses? Do we understand  why our hard working officers are de-motivated from carrying out their mandate in light of these sentences? Is there any wonder why more and more Jamaicans find criminal activities a viable means of making a living?

Jamaica’s criminal Justice system is a Criminal and trial-Lawyer’s paradise, often times the lines between the two are blurred and there are no distinction between the two. Some of the revered and quoted Lawyers are actually products of the closed communities called garrisons. Even as we pay respects to their accomplishments, we must be mindful that the communities of their  origin shaped their world-view. These people have tremendous clout as a lobbying force for their own Interests, but are also the same ones who make up the Judiciary. Judicial activism in Jamaica has literally single-handedly broken the system, and pushed Jamaica to the brink of anarchy.

During my days in law enforcement Judges would routinely admonish and discharge people brought to court for fighting  police officers, ripping their uniforms and actually injuring officers in the lawful execution of their duties. Yours truly was not spared from those assaults. Those who talk about extra-judicial killings should know when their is no judicial remedy,  some  officers may find it prudent to take the laws into their own hands. No officer should have his life, limb, or that of his family threatened because he or she did their job. There are those in the media, urged on by their friends on the bench, who are now shouting about lack of protection for Judges, I mean are you kidding me?  With sentences like the ones  above. Jamaica’s judges have nothing to fear from law breakers.