The criminal justice system is a complex web of different agencies which ought to work cohesively together for the fair and timely dispensation of justice in order that a democratic society may have a chance to survive.
At the tip of the spear is the police who are the very first judge of events, they are given wide latitude to de-escalate and even ignore some minor infractions generally by issuing a warning. That latitude does not include discretion to ignore or forgive serious crimes.
Then there are the prosecutors and defense lawyers, judges, court stenographers and others who make the court system work, then there are others who work on social reports which ought to allow the court the ability to arrive at just and correct sentencing . Prison officers who work to ensure that those who are incarcerated are looked after and the list goes on and on.
Nevertheless, despite the phalanx of different professionals who make the justice system churn along there is a general attitude in our country which seem to believe that if the police department is fixed and all of a sudden becomes the best it can be the criminal justice system will begin to operate as a well-oiled machine.
This is the furthest thing from reality, the fact of the matter is that the Prison system, the local bar, and the bench are all just as broken as the police force. The Government is embarking on a process of reforming the JCF and frankly, that cannot happen soon enough. Even if the JCF is renamed rebranded and retrofitted to be the best it can be, the fair and equitable dispensation of justice will only be a distant dream with the other broken parts of the justice delivery system still in shambles.
National Security Minister Horace Chang said reform of the JCF will not only entail technological improvements or a simple name change but will be about establishing a robust accountability framework, enhanced capacity building, culture change and improvement in the standards of service delivery. “We are far advanced with the drafting of the legislation to govern the new police service as well as an effective oversight mechanism for policing functions. The legislation is scheduled for tabling in Parliament this legislative year.”
The private bar is equally as broken, every year there are never-ending tales of innocent Jamaicans being fleeced out of their hard-earned resources by lawyers. Generally, these lawyers who know how to manipulate their way around the law are hardly ever held accountable.
On the rare occasion that they are arrested, they are given special treatment by the courts.
Take the case of 68-year-old Attorney at law Jennifer Messado, In one instance, she is accused of defrauding Jamaican entertainer Mavado of $30.7 million while in the other she is accused of swindling $28.6 million from St Andrew businessman Norman Horne and his sister Charlotte.
Horne, who is executive director of ARC Properties, and his sister were allegedly defrauded of $28.6 million which was reportedly paid over to Messado for a property located on Argyle Road in St Andrew, and owned by the Sports Development Foundation.
The court heard that Messado told the complainants that she was retained by the foundation to conduct the sale. However, it was later discovered that the company had not retained Messado and that the property was not for sale.
Messado, who was out on a $800,000-bail, was rearrested on Tuesday after two separate reports of fraud were lodged against her in relation to fraudulent land transactions.
Courts are generally inclined to rearrange or rescind bail when offenders re-offend while on bail. Not so in Jamaica, this attorney was once again allowed out on bail even though the people argued that Messado is a flight risk. She was allowed out with the condition of reporting daily to the police and surrendering her travel documents.
That ought to take care of everything, after all, no criminal has ever fled Jamaica after their travel documents have been confiscated.[sic]
Then there is the case of Andrew Brown who in 2016 mowed down a police inspector, who was carrying out duties in the parish of Trelawny,
Inspector Gibbs who was in charge of the Clark’s Town Police and was a 30-year veteran of the JCF was conducting traffic checks when he signaled Andrew Brown who was driving a motorcar to stop.
Brown refused, gunned the engine instead and mowed down and killed the police officer and kept going. After learning that he was wanted by the police, Brown turned himself in the following day.
Brown eventually pleaded guilty and the court imposed a sentence of .….. 16 months in prison!
This is the most shocking and egregious example of judicial misconduct I have ever seen in all my life working in law enforcement and now as an outsider looking in.
This verdict is an unmitigated slap in the face of the JCF and the families of police officers all across the country. Despite the shocking disrespect the verdict represents it is even worse when it is considered against the chilling message it sends to police that not only are their lives worthless to criminals they have no value in the courts either.
The elitist talking heads can talk all they want but Jamaica is understood to be a haven for criminals and a magnet for all who want to embark on a life of crime. Simply put many on the bench are precious little more than criminals themselves.
So let’s stop with the pretense about fixing the police force, the bench the bar and all other agencies of the dispensation of justice are just as filthy as the hierarchy of the JCF, imagine that.