It’s not always easy to change one’s mind about something you have always believed.
As human beings, we are very prone to compartmentalizing things and tucking them away in the quite recesses of our consciousness where they make us comfortable.
We demonstrate a low tolerance to anyone or anything which would challenge our conventional wisdom, even though the challenge may be backed up with compelling documentary evidence.
When ignorance and a basic lack of ability to think critically and outside the box is added, convincing us that what we thought we knew was wrong, becomes an exercise in futility.
Such is the case with certain driver components of crime in Jamaica.
To a large extent, many people are quick to blame the traditional whipping boys (the police), it makes them feel good because they never liked nor respected the police in the first place. Understandably so, the police can take their freedom away and stop their illicit activities.
For others, the animus is a bit different, the police force came out of the Moarnat Bay Rebellion and as such [perceptively] is still to this day an enemy of the average poor man. None of this makes sense 153 years after that Rebellion and a dramatic shift in who governs the Island.
Others blame the politicians [correctly so]. Poverty and other issues have also been identified as drivers of crime in the once peaceful and beautiful Island so many of us call home.
None of the entities named above can be held totally responsible but neither can they be totally exonerated.
Nevertheless, shockingly, one of the greatest threat to the nation’s security lies with the nation’s courts!
As I said previously, people are generally very unhappy when you challenge what they understand to be conventional wisdom so I will keep my head down as some of the missiles fly over my head from those so predisposed.
The courts have been a serious impediment to crime fighting for decades, so much so that many who work in the justice delivery circle have been long convinced that many of the Island’s judges are not as clean as many Jamaicans would like to believe.
I will not talk about the need for the judiciary to be independent. I will not talk about the fact that judges have a right to use their discretion as it relates to the issue of bail and sentencing.
I will not speak to any of the disclaimers which get us bogged down in the morass of who is entitled to do what.
Those have been baked into the cake constitutionally, I will not flog those dead horses.
The fact of the matter is that the courts have been feeding the crime culture for years, eroding the rule of law, demoralizing our police, enhancing street justice in our communities and assisting in the rise of the Don culture.
The disparities in the sentences passed down in the courts [if at all] have long passed the stage where we roll our eyes. Judges have taken it upon themselves to brazenly grant bail to mass killers over and over and over regardless of the number of people they kill.
They continue to hide behind the idea that the accused are entitled to bail and that bail should not be used as punishment.
The fact of the matter is that they are absolutely wrong on the idea that accused are Entitled to bail….
There is no entitlement to bail if an accused offender is a flight risk.
Ther is no entitlement to bail if an accused offender is likely to [kill] or otherwise interfere with witnesses.
There is no entitlement to bail depending on the seriousness of the charge against the accused.
Jamaica’s judges have consistently abused their authority by admonishing and discharging offenders who physically assault police officers emboldening and encouraging those attacks as a consequence.
They are now engaged in the process of admonishing and discharging felony cases. Jamaican Judges can no longer pretend that their abuse of power gives them the authority to decide to totally allow felons to walk free without any consequences for their actions.
The outrageous instances of judicial malfeasance and misconduct are well documented in this medium and by this lone voice shouting in the wilderness.
What has taken Jamaicans so long to recognize that there is a serious problem in the court’s system may be a function of a desire to have something in which they can believe and trust.
An unwillingness [at least in this one case] to believe that there is not a single public entity that has not be tarnished by corruption.
Alas, in real terms that ship has long sailed. As it relates to the Jamaican court’s system a hard and fast belief in its fidelity and lack of corruption is tantamount to reorganizing the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic.
At some point, there has to be an understanding that the courts like other public bodies have been tainted by the corrupting and corrosive influence of dirty money.
FROM THE JAMAICA DAILY GLEANER.
Dozens of persons who were convicted for illegal possession of guns and ammunition in St James and three other western parishes last year got off easy, as High Court judges opted for suspended sentences and fines as low as $70,000, an explosive document compiled by the police has revealed.
In one case, a St James man, convicted for illegal possession of firearm and ammunition, was admonished and discharged. In several other cases, judges opted for probation orders. The document cited 35 cases that were disposed of in the circuit courts in Trelawny, St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland. The most severe punishment, it showed, was a five-year sentence handed down in the Western Regional Gun Court.
According to police statistics, more than 570 persons were killed across the four parishes last year, including a record 335 in St James. The police say approximately 80 percent of those killings involved the use of a firearm. Furious investigators blasted the actions of the judges cited in the document and demanded that it be brought to the attention of the Andrew Holness administration. “Based on our investigations, it is very clear that there is a direct link with most of these firearms [in the cases cited] and most of our crime scenes within the Area [Four Police Division],” one top investigator complained. “Even though we fully recognize the independence of our judiciary, we are very concerned about the effectiveness of these sentences being handed down by the respective judges. In light of this, I am requesting that our concerns be raised with the appropriate ministry.”
The six-page document indicated that at the higher end of the scale, four persons were sentenced to four years at hard labor, three to three years, while three others got two years. “St James is the most murderous [police] division in the country, and five years is the highest sentence handed down,” declared one senior investigator, who warned that the punishments being imposed by judges are dampening morale. At the lower end, the document revealed that in June last year, Justice Bertram Morrison imposed a total fine of $170,000 on a man found guilty of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition and a $70,000 fine for another man convicted of illegal possession of ammunition.
Morrison ignited a firestorm of criticisms on Monday after he sentenced three men held with 18 guns and nearly 1,400 assorted rounds of ammunition in Portland nearly five years ago to five years in prison for each firearm, and four years for illegal possession of ammunition, all to be served simultaneously. Not to be outdone, the document revealed that in July last year, Justice Vivienne Harris opted to impose probation orders or supervised release for two and three years, respectively, as punishment for two men found guilty of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.
Eight days later, according to the report, Harris handed out sentences of two years in prison, suspended for two years; 12 months in prison, suspended for two years; two years probation; and 18 months in prison, to four men convicted for the offenses of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition. Last January, a St James man was admonished and discharged by Justice David Fraser, who, days later, imposed a sentence of four years at hard labor, all for the same offense of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition, the document revealed. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20180117/guns-no-problem-judges-western-ja-blasted-light-sentences-illegal
The tragedy in all of this is that 1616 people were reported murdered last year. This year so far the country is on track to see an even higher number of over 1800 Jamaicans murdered.
At the same time, the Government continues to pull judges from the dirty pool of trial lawyers, making them judges while several are struck from the list of those allowed to practice law annually.
Politicians and police are involved in the massive growth of security companies and funeral parlors and other spin-off operations which have developed from the kill-culture.
It is a shocking unspoken collusion of corruption which has engulfed the tiny Island of 2.8 million. It is corruption at all levels in a shocking confluence of dishonesty and immorality.
When the final chapter is written, college courses will be taught on this, a template on how corruption, greed, and dishonesty was allowed to destroy a beautiful nation.