Attorney surprised Gov't again mooting Bail Act amendment
Sherine Williams, Gleaner Writer
One of the lawyers who worked to have changes to the Bail Act declared unconstitutional five years ago, says he’s surprised the government is again planning to make similar amendments to the law.
Attorney, Marcus Greenwood, says he believes the government's plan to deny murder suspects bail will fail just as it did in 2011.
Marcus Greenwood was one of the attorneys in the case in which two murder suspects successfully challenged the 2010 amendments to the Bail Act which allowed murder suspects to be detained for 60 days without bail.
The suit was prompted after a resident magistrate in Mandeville, citing the amendments, denied the two murder suspects bail but subsequently granted another murder accused bail.
The two murder suspects then filed a suit against the government in the Supreme Court in 2011 and the court ruled that it was unconstitutional to hold the suspects for sixty days without bail.
The ruling trashed the amendments made by the Bruce Golding administration, as the court held that the Bail Act was effective in dealing with crime without unconstitutionally denying murder suspects bail.
However, fast forward to 2016, and the Andrew Holness administration is looking to change the Bail Act again so that murder suspects can be denied bail under certain circumstances.
Greenwood says he’s still against arbitrarily denying murder suspects bail and maintains the new plan won't work because it offends Jamaica's constitution.
Greenwood says the police and citizens may be pleased with the proposed changes which appear to be tougher crime-fighting laws.
But he says the true deterrent to crime is convicting persons so that a clear message can be sent to other potential perpetrators.
In his Budget presentation Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the Justice Minister and the Attorney general would further explain how the amendments to the Bail Act will work.