WHILE for the first time in this country's history, US authorities have announced that these once peaceful "isles of June" have a "critical" level of crime, the new Christie administration plans to review the last government's mandatory minimum laws because the criminal has complained that they are too tough!
Not to be outdone in the crime critique, the Americans also considered Grand Bahama's crime level "high." This puts Grand Bahama on a par with the Dominican Republic, which has a population of 9.9 million.
The FNM, in an effort to sweep the criminal from our streets, brought in tough anti-crime legislation last year. This week, while vowing to get crime under control, the new government is entertaining the complaint of criminals that the mandatory sentences are too tough. For example, if found guilty of drug possession, four years is the minimum mandatory sentence.
This is good news -- not the fact that the PLP government is entertaining their complaints, but the fact that the criminal is complaining. Apparently the new laws are wiping that satisfied smirk off their smart-aleck faces. The law is biting and the harder it bites, the greater is the chance of them changing their lifestyles.
If they didn't commit multiple crimes, if they didn't murder, commit armed robbery, carry firearms with intent to cause serious injury, peddle drugs and the like then they would not have to worry about being refused bail and tossed into prison until trial. Nor would they have to worry about mandatory sentences. We have no sympathy.
Change of lifestyle for the better never hurt anyone. If they decided to reform and become useful citizens, then harsh laws would no longer be of concern to them.
Because of the escalating murders -- usually committed by criminals out on bail awaiting trial and exacting their own cross-fire justice -- the Ingraham government took away the magistrate's right to give bail in certain serious cases and to repeat offenders.
At one time, the courts -- especially the magistrates' courts were like revolving doors for the hardened criminal -- in and out of court until trial date. Many accused were lucky if they lived long enough to go to trial -- usually they killed each other on the streets.
It seemed strange that having been in government only seven days during which time nine murders were committed, National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage did not see the irony of his announcement that his government intended to review the Ingraham administration's anti-crime legislation, intending to focus on the mandatory minimum sentencing laws. And why?
"A lot of the people who have been convicted under some of those bills have made certain approaches to us about the severity of some of the sentences," he said.
Surely he doesn't expect serious people to take him seriously. No wonder the FNM has accused his government of going "soft on crime."
In fact, he invited the observation by the FNM that despite his party's vow to rid our communities of crime, "he seems more concerned about criminals than the victims of crime."
"Even before parliament convenes," said the FNM, "the Minister of National Security has shown that he intends to take a soft approach to various criminal elements."
In passing the stiff laws last year the Ingraham government's focus was on the need to protect public safety and order, and the safety of the victims of the alleged offence.
At one time, the criminal laughed at the police, took their chance with the law and reckoned that with a good lawyer, they would be in and out in no time. At that time crime did pay. Obviously, having to sit in prison for four years for a small amount of ganja has given them food for thought. This is a good thing, something to worry about. It's at times like these that a light might switch on in their brains that if they took another path they could spend four years earning a decent living, instead of using a common slop bucket with several of other inmates.
If this government hopes to get on top of crime, these complaints alone show that softness is not the way to go.