One of the most longstanding issues hobbling Jamaican Authorities ability to decisively deal with crime is the attitude of the Judiciary toward this vexing issue.
Jamaica’s Judiciary though not wholly corrupt, is certainly not incorruptible as certain quarters of the Island’s population would have you believe.
We know differently.
For the most part, the Islands judges have long mischaracterized the concept of “Independent Judiciary” to mean free to do as they please with bail and sentencing.
The idea of an independent judiciary and Press are two of the few safeguards citizens have against tyrannical Governments which would otherwise trample on their rights and liberties.
As such, the press and the judiciary have sacred responsibilities to be as judicious as possible in the way they carry out their functions.
Both have failed in carrying out those sacred functions.
For its part, the once respected media on the Island has denigrated into cheerleaders for political parties and special interest groups despite the growth in mediums.
The police have long maintained that judges are far too lenient on criminals who are brought before the courts. In fact, the archaic nature of the Island’s laws makes a mockery of the criminal justice system.
Juxtapose that with the mockery the judges make of the system and there is little wonder at the reason crime is so out of control.
The Island’s crime epidemic cannot be wholly laid at the feet of judges, or that of the press, but both groups play a part, as have others in the massive escalation of crime on the Island.
The judiciary has turned the system into a mockery of a revolving door. It releases dangerous killers back onto the streets regardless of how many people they kill, the gruesome nature of their crimes or how many times they have been arrested on homicide charges and are still awaiting trial.
This brain-dead practice has over the years resulted in a number of problems, not the least of which is perceived police extrajudicial killings, police corruption, a breakdown in the rule of law, lack of respect for the nation’s laws and law enforcement officers, and a general reliance on community so-called Dons as more effective entities to mete out justice.
Amidst all of this, the Judiciary continue to adopt a pompous attitude as it maintains that bail was never intended to be punishment. In the meantime, the court continues the insane practice of releasing the Island’s most dangerous killers back onto the streets as soon as the police arrest them.
According to police statistics over one hundred and forty of the murders committed on the Island this year were committed by people on bail.
Bear in mind that that figure represents ‘s only those homicides which the police have effectively solved and were able to cross-reference them by deterrmining that at the time they killed someone they should have been locked up in jail.
The number of homicides committed by people granted bail is much higher and is a large part of the reason the Island’s homicide rate is so high.
It should come as no surprise then that since the well-learned judiciary plays God Almighty by repeatedly granting bail to mass murderers they would have no problem releasing Lotto-Scammers with a tiny slap on the wrist and a smile.
Never mind that the Island’s law enforcement agencies have repeatedly said the Lotto-scammers are using their illicit gains to fund the illegal gun trade and by extension is responsible largely for the tremendous increase in homicides.
From my experience, the seriousness of the charges brought against Jamaica’s criminals has never seemed to be important to many of the judges I have seen on the bench.
One gets the impression that their singular focus has always been to find ways to release them back into the communities as soon as possible.
There is now strong evidence that there is a collaborative process in place between some on the bench and certain defense attorneys which includes money changing hands for prisoners to get bail and for lenient sentences.
Reporting on the disposition of cases in the Hanover circuit court should prove to even the most loyal supporters of the Judiciary that something is radically wrong here.
The paltry fine of $367,000 imposed on fifteen defendants who plead guilty to lottery scamming is a damning indictment of the judiciary.
The reports indicate that seven were fined $30,000; five were fined $20,000 while two were fined $25,000. The other man was fined $7,000 and ordered to pay restitution of US$580.
Senior law enforcement official notes that the Law Reform Fraudulent Transaction Special Provisions Act, commonly called the Lottery Scam Act, provides stiffer fines and up to 15 years in prison.
The official described the fines as scandalous and says they do not take into account the links between the lottery scam and the increase in violent crimes in western Jamaica.
The official also pointed out that in each case the fines were less than US$200, significantly less than the fines imposed on Jamaicans convicted in the United States on charges related to the lottery scam.
Indeed they are.
An independent judiciary was never intended to be a judiciary which aids the proliferation of crimes, it was intended as articulated earlier in this article.
Since the courts have refused to do its job, the Legislature must now act to protect the country.
A judiciary is not free to do as it pleases, it is unelected and must carry out its mandate independently from Government, nevertheless when the needs of the people change and the actions of the courts are not in conformity with the wishes of the people the people’s representatives must act.
That action must come in the form of mandatory minimum sentences for certain categories of crime.
It must remove from judges, the discretion and ability to grant bail to murder accused, unless with stringent conditions prescribed in law.
Those conditions should include electronic monitoring, house arrests, confinement to certain geographic locations among others.
These conditions should only be in law if the country is able to supply the security forces with the equipment necessary to enforce said conditions.
In this fight to take back our country from the desperadoes, it must be all hands on deck. The country cannot afford a few unelected bureaucrats to continue to derail our system of justice.
Judges must be given strict guidelines to follow in certain categories of crime. It would also be a good idea to allow Prosecutors to appeal a sentence if he feels that the sentence was incommensurate with the crimes an offender was charged with.
Finally, Judges must be appointed from the prosecutor’s side, the country can ill afford to have the judiciary populated with former defense lawyers.
2.4 Judges should exhibit and promote high standards of judicial conduct
so as to reinforce public confidence which is the cornerstone of judicial
3.1 Judges should ensure that their conduct is above reproach in the view
of reasonable, fair-minded and informed persons, and that their behavior
is such as to reaffirm the confidence of the public in the integrity of the
judiciary. (Jamaica judicial conduct guidelines).