Jamaica: Expunging Criminal Records Will Have Disastrous Consequences For Country’s Credibility

One of the tools law enforce­ment uses to iden­ti­fy and con­firm the crim­i­nal behav­ior of indi­vid­u­als is their crim­i­nal record.
It makes it eas­i­er to deter­mine who com­mit­ted what crime, it gives law enforce­ment a heads up on what they are deal­ing with- with crim­i­nal pro­fil­ing and allows courts to make bet­ter deci­sions when deal­ing with repeat offend­ers.
The idea that Jamaica would be expung­ing the records of dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals when the world is mov­ing in the direc­tion of tight­en­ing the noose on their own crim­i­nals and crim­i­nal empires is a tragedy which will have dev­as­tat­ing unfore­seen con­se­quences.

Just as con­se­quen­tial will be the dimin­ish­ment of Jamaica’s cred­i­bil­i­ty in the eyes of International part­ners, as it relates to the verac­i­ty of the back­ground infor­ma­tion on Jamaicans wish­ing to trav­el, work and live over­seas.
More and more we are liv­ing in an inter­con­nect­ed world in which uni­tary stan­dards are the rule rather than the excep­tion.
For that rea­son, embark­ing on a sys­tem­at­ic pro­gram of san­i­tiz­ing the crim­i­nal records of thou­sands of crim­i­nals is destruc­tive­ly coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

Delroy Chuck

Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck revealed to the nation’s par­lia­ment that more than 1,000 crim­i­nal records were expunged last year. In actu­al­i­ty, the num­ber revealed was 1,027 for the sin­gle year 2017.
At a time when mur­ders, rapes, shoot­ings and oth­er vio­lent crimes con­tin­ue to esca­late in Jamaica, it is astound­ing that the Government would embark on a process which would make it expo­nen­tial­ly more dif­fi­cult for law enforce­ment and the courts to do their jobs.

Given where Jamaica is in its enforce­ment efforts, it is uncon­scionable and inex­plic­a­ble that the admin­is­tra­tion would embark on this reck­less path.
There is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for this process, any rewards which may be extrap­o­lat­ed clear­ly can­not jus­ti­fy the risks.

One of the bench­marks for the easy move­ment of peo­ple across inter­na­tion­al bor­ders is indi­vid­ual coun­try’s abil­i­ty and integri­ty to deter­mine the true back­ground of their cit­i­zens. The same bench­mark deter­mines whether a state is char­ac­ter­ized as a failed state or not when they are unable to cred­i­bly say who is who.

Fudging around with the records of crim­i­nals tells our inter­na­tion­al part­ners that when we say some­one has a clean record we are say­ing that the gov­ern­ment has tam­pered with the record of the indi­vid­ual which has noth­ing to do with the char­ac­ter of that indi­vid­ual. That is the path to becom­ing a failed state.

It would be inter­est­ing to hear the admin­is­tra­tion and more specif­i­cal­ly the Minister of jus­tice explain the ben­e­fits to the coun­try in light of the fore­gone. I will not hold my breath for this expla­na­tion as it appears that Delroy Chuck is run­ning a par­al­lel gov­ern­ment out of the jus­tice min­istry, which just hap­pens to be ded­i­cat­ed to the empow­er­ment of Jamaica’s crim­i­nal under­world.