Sat | Dec 2, 2023

Letter of the Day | If we want higher rates of conviction...

Published:Thursday | September 28, 2023 | 12:06 AM


Your editorial on conviction rates in our higher courts indicates a rate of approximately 25 per cent. You then conclude your editorial by calling on investigators and prosecutors to explain why the rate is so low.

May I respectfully suggest you are looking in the wrong direction.

If 75 out of every 100 accused persons are walking free according to your theory it would suggest that either the police and prosecutors are so incompetent that they have either charged the wrong person or they can’t present their case.

I would argue that there is no police force or set of prosecutors anywhere in the world who could be so incompetent. Besides, there is little evidence to suggest the local police and prosecutors are anywhere as inefficient as they are sometimes made out to be. The reason for the low conviction rate must lie elsewhere.

How about the criminal laws and justice system itself, the arcane rules of evidence, the jury system. The system is premised on the old English adage we were taught in law school that it is better for 99 guilty murderers to walk free than for one innocent man to be wrongly convicted. Would a majority of Jamaicans today agree with that?

Having practised in the criminal and civil courts in Canada, as well as presided in the immigration court, I have no hesitation in asserting that if the basis of the justice system is a search for truth, the relaxed rules of evidence in the latter (where there are virtually no exclusions and all evidence is carefully weighed, accepted or discarded) would be a far more useful course to follow if we want higher rates of conviction.


Canada M1X 2B2