Cases ready but courts bogged down
Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator
With the horrorifying statistics of more than 500 persons having been murdered in Jamaica since the start of the year, head of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Les Green, has disclosed that investigations have been completed in at least 120 cases, which are ready for trial, but insufficient court staff is affecting the process.
"The cases are ready, witnesses are available, everything is there, but the courts just cannot handle the cases. We need more staff in the courts," said ACP Green.
He said the old-fashioned circuit-court system just wasn't working for Jamaica anymore.
"For example, St James needs a permanent circuit court every single day of the week, and so do some of the other parishes. There are just too many cases before the court, so the current circuit system is not working. The old cases are still languishing and we need to put more resources in to deal with them," Green further said.
He blamed some of the delays in court on the unavailability of forensic evidence, certificates from pathologists or doctors, and sometimes, statements from the police.
A report in The Gleaner on Tuesday highlighted the plight of several accused men who claimed they had been languishing in custody, some for more than five years, without their cases being tried. Justice Gloria Smith listened to the plight of the men, case by case.
Despite the many obstacles, ACP Green said he had not lost confidence in the justice system.
"Since my five and a half years here, I think there has been some significant improvement," said Green.
Responding to Green's comments, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn said the situation reflected the jump in the crime rate.
"There are too few resources, too few courtrooms and too few lawyers. The system hasn't kept pace with the crime rate.
We are all trying our best, though," said the DPP.
At present, there are 41 attorneys employed to the DPP's office.