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June 18, 2008

Comments

nicob

It's not just the judicial system that is on the verge of collapse, but the entire public service. More later.

Rick

Glad you found a voice for this Nicolette.
Let's get your recommendations out in the public domain. Please.
Let the politicians defend the indefensible if their position is untenable.

leandra esfakis

I do hope the politicians get their pants on, get to the operating table, and do some serious surgery and transplants before the patient (the judicial system, and with it social stability) expires from neglect.

Any evidence of this happening?

EB Christen

I would like to point out three things from this article:

1. To all the detractors who attack Larry as pro-FNM... read this and weep! The fire of truth is for all our shabby leaders. This country must fight for its own future and party politics is for retards! Take your head out of the red and yellow sand and think with your own mind!

2. Tommy Turnquest should really focus on solving the problems and stop talking about how we, the public, should talk about the problems.

3. Both the FNM and the PLP, along with the public are equally accountable for all the countries ills at this point. It is our leadership in general and our society as a whole that is at fault. Finger pointing will solve nothing!

The truth must be openly discussed if apropos action is to be taken. If it isn't, then we are left with reaction, which is the great folly of Bahamian history.

Ralph Deans

Larry

Your Tough Call today was, as usual, right on the money.

With everything wrong, where to start? The answer is "everywhere" but that, obviously, cannot be because you can't turn the whole country and its entire economy into a crime-fighting machine.

Social programs, rescuing kids at risk, counseling, rebuilding rundown neighborhoods, jobs training, creating employment etc etc... the list is endless and it's all necessary. But the cruel fact is that once a person starts on a life of crime, he or she usually continues in it. You can spend a lot of money trying to change that dynamic, and you should, but you have to recognize that it's an uphill battle. You have to deal with the situation you've got, not the one you'd like to have.

My non-expert suggestion is that you have to start at the foundation and that is a brand new, state-of-the art prison. That sounds negative. Social activists would prefer to attack the roots of crime, not what we do with the criminals after they have committed a crime. But there isn't time for the altruistic approach, quite aside from the fact it sometimes doesn't work, or if it does, only over the long haul.

Her Majesty's Prison at Fox Hill is a national disgrace, as everybody knows. The conditions inside are inhuman; it's an insult to common sense and ordinary sensibility. The whole place should be demolished as soon as possible after it has been replaced with a much bigger and fully modern institution. And this should be done quickly as a matter of the utmost national priority, including the imposition of new taxes, if necessary. It is the very first step that needs to be taken to fight crime.

For even if you trebled or quadrupled the number of judges (at least until the 100,000-case backlog is punched into better shape), and found the money to create the courtrooms and pay the support staff that such an increase implies, the new judges would just be jamming an ever-greater number of dangerous individuals into an ever-diminishing space -- which is the very definition of a bomb.

If China really wanted to give The Bahamas something useful, they should consider a $30 million state-of-the-art prison, not a sports stadium that would rarely, if ever, be filled. (IMO, that gift is part of a naked superpower ploy to buy cheaply an ability to tilt the votes of Caribbean and other small nations in the UN - but that's another rant.)

Appreciate your work.

Ralph Deans
Editor/Bahamas Handbook

larry smith

As an aside to Nico's remarks on this and an earlier post, I attended meetings at ZNS today and a number of people referred to my recent article on public service broadcasting.

They were incredulous. It was not so much what I said - which was nothing really dramatic and most couldn't recall it anyway - but that I actually had the TEMERITY not to simply mouth official views and repeat bland nothings.

These were all very senior and responsible people, but they are ever so terribly deferential to those in power - people that we put there in the first place.

We have a serious problem in this country because citizens are terrified to discuss the issues without descending into a pit of red and yellow snakes.

C.Lowe

I agree with your article and especially your last comment.
Why do we defer to the incompetent? I realize we elected them, but we have done so repeatedly to our own detriment.
This deference can be equated directly to the blind leading the blind or worse, volunteering to put your own eyes out!
A very large prison is needed, but so are foreign plice officers and judicial personel.
Parallel them if you like with Bahamians but we as a people are not apparently able to police or prosecute ourselves.
Short of aliens landing and taking over we seem to need foreigners for more than their investment or money.
By the way, our ex chief prosecutor is not the only one who is tired of writing reports only have them ignored for no good reason other than the self inflicted superiorority of the recipients!

SDJosey

As a people we are more accustomed to talking about problems rather than providing solutions. I will state emphatically that Larry has proposed via this blog numerous solutions for a myriad of local issues. We can never allow ourselves to become so overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation that we become paralyzed into inaction.
One of the immediate solutions we need is the creation of a juvenile remand and incarceration system totally separate from our adult prison system. Our goal for such a system would be intervention programs geared to turning around the lives of potential career criminals. In my opinion this is a proper application for the YEAST program and the YEAST dollars.
According to Carlos Reid we have a potential population of 15,000 youth and young adults who are disposed to becoming social deviants and future criminals. This is another place where our efforts need to begin.
History has shown that our politicians do not have all the answers. We must give them credit for having the courage to assume the task of leadership in many of our societal issues. However, we must keep them honest and not give them a pass when they fall short of our hopes and expectations.
It would also seem to be a no brainer, that part of the solution for reducing the court backlog, is to systematically employ the qualified resources from wherever we can find it and reduce the backlog. It is unthinkable that career criminals charged before the courts with one criminal offence are free to commit other offences with this freedom. I am deeply troubled that key players in the judicial/justice system cannot convene a symposium discuss the issues without political prejudice and formulate a solution. It does speak to our nation’s maturity. But then again isn’t that the real issue?

larry smith

As if to prove the point, four ex-policemen had charges against them of conspiracy to commit murder, armed robbery and arson dismissed by the supreme court this week.

The reason - their case had not been tried within a reasonable time.

Chester McKenzie, Keith Patton, Henry Brice and Stephen Stubbs were arrested in 1992 and dismissed from the force when they were committed for trial by Magistrate Carolita Bethel in 1994.

Justice Jon Isaacs, who freed the accused, expressed amazement that such a serious matter could be allowed to linger so long without being tried. He added that the evidence was very strong against the four men.

The men were accused of conspiring to murder fellow officers in a bid to break into the police drug storage facility to steal drugs and ammunition.

Bahamas Community Blogger

It is nice to see so many people concur with my opinion of Mr Turnquest's remarks, which I published on June 13. I feel good knowing that I am not the only one with this viewpoint. Both you and Nicki Kelly (The Punch) have since published articles reiterating what I said, but far more eloquently. :)

Bob Knaus

No policy recommendations here, just a couple more "do the math" questions.

Is the Bahamas ready for US-style incarceration rates? The Bahamas already gets dinged in the press for having large numbers of people in prison... but if we take a population of 1400 at Fox Hill against a Bahamian total of 320,000 citizens that gives an incarceration rate of 437 per 100,000. Compare that to the 800+ rate in the US:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisons_in_the_United_States

Also on this page, look at the 3.2% total rate in prison/parole/probation in the US. Is the Bahamas ready for this? Can it afford this level of justice?

Most importantly, will the families of the men caught up in the wheels of justice stand idly by when they are removed from society? And from the gene pool? Because that is what long-term lock-up policies do. They are crude, but quite effective, at removing the criminal element from society.

Is that what Bahamians want?

John Hinchliffe

I have not read the entire article or indeed all the posted comments...but I get the picture.We have the same problems,it seems, in the UK....permissiveness rides high in the saddle.
As my time drew to an end in GBI in 1988,I slept with a pump-action s/gun under the bed and for very good reasons...any one remember the GM of the Power Company Dan Clayton being shot and damn near killed in his own home? ...and does anyone remember the 'outlaw' Pheral Lewis? On my departure I gave the late Edward St.George a verbal blast which featured in the Tribune...he felt that the Island was a safe haven and that my comments were a load of "balls".Edward St.George was part of your problem and a known 'corruptionist' with the effects spiralling down.
We all face problems of destructive social behaviour...witness intimidation features on Radio 4 BBC as I type...and it needs firm resolve on the part of the greater public with the policing authorities to ease society out of this...STARTING AT THE TOP!

Fact Gathering

Can you give the names of the persons accused of up to 10 killings?

1955-2008 Grand Bahama

Mr. L. Smith you have your mind on the crime in Grand Bahama and Nassau,and I feel after 50 years of observation you are correct in its growth. The causes being failure to prosecute because of political or family influence and familial failures. The young men and women - men in particular = who were born out of wedlock and "out children" circumstance - whose mother was never financially assisted or mature enough to create some type of self esteem in their child, are now seeing these people without education or respect for reproduction as it created them, bite back. The "dead beat" father issue in the United States has $680 Million being held back from the male creatures that fathered them - we need a similar scorn for these types of "men" that produce life indiscriminately.

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