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Hundreds Of Plea Deals Since January 2016

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has facilitated 274 guilty plea bargains since January 2016 as part of an unprecedented push to alleviate the burden on the judicial system through these arrangements.

The plea deals include 16 for murder, 18 for attempted murder, 25 for manslaughter, 80 for armed robbery and 40 for unlawful sexual intercourse.

There were 41 plea deals in 2016, 96 in 2017, 62 in 2018, 62 in 2019 and 13 in 2020. The figures for this year have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskin.

The statistics obtained by The Tribune came after Chief Justice Brian Moree encouraged greater use of plea bargains during a press conference last month.

In a statement to The Tribune, Mr Gaskin said: “We determined that it was measurably prudent for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) to have very early assessments of the quality of the evidence to be relied on by the Crown at trial. This qualitative exercise looks, particularly, at the cogency of this evidence. “The defendant, with astute advice, has an appropriate appreciation and regard for the resulting cogent evidence. Consequently, there’s now an increased willingness to have guilty plea discussions with the ODPP, with a view to concluding a guilty plea agreement.

“It is noteworthy that the law permits a proportionate discount on a sentence imposed by the court when there is a guilty plea. The earlier the plea, the greater the discount. This ‘reward’ is issued to the defendant, not just for this act of contrition, but also for not wasting the court’s time and for not unnecessarily and adversely impacting a traumatised victim in a contentious trial.

“Whenever there is a guilty plea, there is notably a significant reduction in the use of precious judicial time. A criminal trial in the Supreme Court lasts on average for two weeks; so if there are two guilty pleas within a month, four weeks of judicial time are saved.

“Twenty-six guilty pleas amount to a year’s worth of judicial time saved. These salient features amply tell the story of how materially beneficial guilty pleas are to the administration of the criminal justice system.”

A plea deal is an agreement between a prosecutor and a defendant where the accused agrees to plead guilty to a particular charge in return for some concession.

The push for increased use of plea deals began in 2008 when the government passed a law allowing plea bargaining in criminal cases.

Last month, Chief Justice Moree said he wants to see even greater use of plea bargains in the Bahamian criminal justice system, saying the country does not have the resources for every case to go to trial. He noted that though the country’s plea-bargaining rate has historically been low, it has increased in the last three to five years.

“What the empirical data shows throughout courts around the world,” he said, “is that no court system in the United States, in Australia, in Britain, in the largest countries in the world, no court system has the resources to bring to trial every criminal case that is filed. It simply cannot happen and it doesn’t happen anywhere in the world so plea bargaining becomes an integral part of the disposition regime for criminal cases.

“I would strongly support the judicious and careful and proper use of plea bargaining in appropriate cases in order to manage the backlog, and as I said it has to be an integral part of the system because we cannot take all criminal cases to trial, we just don’t have the resources.

“I’m glad the DPP seems to be focusing on that. I hope that members of the private criminal Bar will also focus on it and we will see an increased use of plea bargains moving forward as part of our reduction of the backlog.”

Comments

JokeyJack 1 year, 5 months ago

"...he said, “is that no court system in the United States, in Australia, in Britain, in the largest countries in the world, no court system has the resources to bring to trial every criminal case that is filed. It simply cannot happen and it doesn’t happen anywhere in the world so plea bargaining becomes an integral part of the disposition regime for criminal cases."

So, in other words, the entire world is too poor (or spends too much money on their militaries) to afford trials to all of those accused. We can afford to pay out for huge police forces to arrest and/or charge people, but we cannot afford to provide those accused with a trial of their peers. Remember that graduates with law degrees basically work as dogs in law firms (sorting papers etc) until they "get called to the Bar". The Bar Association, just like the American Medical Association controls how many lawyers there are. The same is true for doctors. Any resource whose quantity is restricted, can control a higher price. That is why doctors and lawyers cost so much - as opposed to straw market vendors or conch salad makers. It is a price control situation (just in the opposite direction).

Countries like Canada and France and Japan and many others have seen a decline in their birth rates over the past 40 years (or so), and have taken to immigration to prop up their populations. This is one of the many reasons why people don't have children, increasingly. They know the world sucks and is not fit for human life and so they will not condemn their own children to live on this planet. The governments respond by saying, either you breed - or we will replace you with some other race and whatever among you are left will be a minority in their own country. Slaves must reproduce or suffer the consequences.

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