Criminal justice in our nation

EDITOR, The Tribune.

Looking at the criminal justice system in The Bahamas today, we may see criminals getting some sort of justice, but hardly any justice going around in the direction of victims or society at large.

Even with one eye closed, we can see that a massive and overall holistic reform of our so-called justice system is more than decades overdue. That dictum that “justice is blind”: doesn’t go quite far enough. In The Bahamas, “justice is blind, deaf and dumb”!

A little bit of uncommon sense, not any advanced degree in criminology, judicial expertise or King’s Counsel status, leads me to see that whatever is being used, has been used in the last half century plus and is likely to continue on ad infinitum, just does not work... as far as halting the growing tsunami of outrageous crimes about to rival the great flood of Noah’s time.

However, to be overly simplistic in any crime fighting approach would be just as bad as not making any effort at all. All the same, a bad something sometimes might be better than a good nothing.

So, here’s something to place into that suggestion box which the Ministry of National Security is bound to position in some public places/forum ... coming near you soon.

Whether or not it’s a good starting point or not, let’s make a distinction between jails and prisons.

How about having a proper jail in New Providence where the bulk of the population and problems proliferate? For those charged and not yet convicted of serious crimes, this facility would service that grouping.

That mockery of bail for everyone, no matter the “alleged” offence, should be scratched off the Books. Not facing any serious charges might afford the suspect/accused that privilege of bail.

Violent and more serious crimes should put these unofficial criminals/accused behind bars until their day in Court. Their day in Court should be within the 30-day period after formal charges are brought before them. Let the Court take it from there, without the traditional rituals of delays and suspensions.

As for the prison, it should be located on an island other than New Providence. Getting sent away to do your time will take on a literal meaning. And, while meeting the international standards as well as the criteria of basic human rights, it ought not to rival luxury hotels, resorts and such. The realities of such an accommodation should discourage the bad habits of repeat offenders. Once a prisoner puts in his/her correctional time there, the label of ‘masochist’ might rightly be attached to such individuals who return to criminality. That’s not to say that educational, trades, and good character building skills among other rehabilitative techniques would not be offered to those receptive convicted offenders. In fact, much of their diet would be grown and sustained by their hands, in the grand scheme of things.

Although not specifically addressed at this time, the concept of prevention and inspiring, especially the very young, to steer away from a life of crime, would be an integral part of any worthwhile scheme.

Building better Bahamians is most essential to building a better Bahamas. Some wise person once said that it’s easier to mold a youth than it is to mend an adult... or something like that. Yet, we all know that some trees that were not properly bent early on and just became unable to bend later on have to be cut down after they become a danger to the overall common good.

Are we waiting for some heinous criminal act - beyond the worst of the worst - for Bahamians to move to the point of choosing our well being and peaceful survival over the well being and “rights” of the vicious criminals? Not all stories or people will have happy endings, except in fairy tales... of which The Bahamas is not one. This real! Real talks!

My view is that things will continue to go on with a business-as-usual apathy, unless and until a collective effort is developed to fight against the growing hordes of committed criminals who are hell bent on waging war on the good people of The Bahamas.

As oxymoronic as it seems, this Bahamas appears to be going nowhere faster and faster, despite the protestations of some who would prefer the process to be slower, even though the direction and destination remains the same.

Ok, maybe the massive problems of our criminal justice system cannot be tackled all at one time. Fine. How about adopting that old adage that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”? Tings ain’t ger get no better da way dey gern nah, so jus ‘e well try sometin’ else!

In this somewhat subtle and undeclared war within The Bahamas today, may I offer a borrowed quote/cliche to be considered? “No justice, no peace!” Bahamians deserve both justice and peace!



April 20, 2023


Porcupine 5 months, 2 weeks ago

The issue begins with the family. We are failing to raise children who are educated and have respect for others. Until we, as a society, admit this and work to correct it, nothing can or will change. You suggest moving the prison to another island. Could I not also suggest we remove some of the children who have no guidance whatsoever from their "families" in Nassau to achieve the next layer of social improvement. Just asking.


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