Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Letter of the Day | Sentence reduction a good first step

Published:Saturday | May 13, 2017 | 5:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The sentence-reduction days announced by the Supreme Court as part of the Criminal Case Management Programme is a bold step that will go a long way in curbing overcrowding in Jamaica's correctional facilities.

The initiative, as announced by the court, is aimed at providing opportunities for accused persons who are guilty, to plead guilty on specific days where significant discounts in sentences would be granted.

When coupled with the Ministry of National Security's move to reclassify prisoners and make arrangements for low-risk prisoners to serve their sentences under house arrest, the Sentence Reduction Days initiative continues to provide hope that the issue of rehabilitation is becoming the default frame of reference for the criminal-justice system.

As the head of a non-governmental organisation that has been lobbying for these kinds of initiatives and labouring in our less-than-adequate correctional facilities, I am elated at the policy changes that are currently taking place.

 

REHAB A PRIORITY

 

The rehabilitation of offenders has to be a priority in the fight against crime. Rehabilitation is, however, hampered by overcrowded correctional facilities.

Stand Up For Jamaica, through funding from the European Union, has been able to achieve some measure of success in working with the Department of Correctional Services to deliver rehabilitation in the form of psychological care, educational services and skills training in the correctional facilities. The effectiveness of these efforts will no doubt be improved in a less-crowded prison environment.

We urge all accused persons, to whom it may apply, to make use of this initiative and hope that the rate of uptake will be sufficient enough to allow the programme to continue and become a staple feature of the criminal-justice system.

CARLA GULLOTTA

Executive Director, Stand Up for Jamaica