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Most judges who grant bail ignore ankle bracelet option

At least 24 people charged with murder in recent years were released on bail between January and September this year, but only six of them were ordered to be electronically monitored, according to information obtained by The Nassau Guardian.

The data shows that another nine were released either for time served or because their matters were discharged.

Thirteen of the murder accused released on bail between that period were granted bail by Senior Justice Jon Isaacs, according to the data.  Of the 13, only five were ordered to wear electronic bracelets.

Isaacs, according to the information compiled by government agencies, appears to have released the greatest number of murder suspects on bail this year.

However, Isaacs hears a great number of bail applications compared to other judges.

The data is also incomplete.

In six other cases where people were released on bail after being charged with murder, there is no indication given as to which judge or magistrate approved the release on bail.

In those six matters, according to the data, the use of electronic bracelets was only ordered once.

The data also shows that of the 26 people who were charged with serious crimes between January and September this year and granted bail, only six of them are being electronically monitored.

One person charged with murder on April 12 was granted bail by Justice Bernard Turner on September 12, but is not being electronically monitored, the information shows.

Another two men charged with murder on April 27 were granted bail by Justice Roy Jones on September 7.

In that case, Justice Jones ordered that they be electronically monitored, according to the data.

The data also shows that seven people charged with rape this year have already been granted bail.

But only two of them are being electronically monitored.

Seventeen people who were charged with armed robbery up to September have already been granted bail by various magistrates.

Magistrate Derence Rolle-Davis granted bail to seven of the 17 armed robbery accused, according to the data.

None of the seven were ordered to wear ankle bracelets.

In some instances, the accused were granted bail within a day or two of being charged.  In other instances they were granted bail weeks or months later.

Additionally, the information shows that 23 of the just over 100 people charged with serious crimes in recent years and released between January and September this year were ordered to wear electronic bracelets.

It means that the vast majority of the murder, rape and armed robbery suspects released this year are not being electronically monitored.

While 26 people charged this year with serious crimes are already out on bail, some of the 100-plus people in total who were released on bail this year on serious charges had been on remand for several years, some as far back as 2006.

The government implemented electronic monitoring one year ago “to provide a practical and workable solution to improve national responses to crime and criminality, and particularly violent crimes such as murder and armed robbery”.

During the launch of the system, National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest said, “Our objectives include keeping a close watch on alleged violent offenders that have been granted bail, where the courts decide that we should.

“They also include offering an alternative to imprisonment to persons that have committed minor offenses, also when determined by the courts.  Additionally, our objectives include monitoring inmates on the prison work release schemes, and those that are performing community services.”

Turnquest said at the time that the electronic monitoring system is, in short, an important element of the government’s strategy to halt and reverse crime trends in The Bahamas, to reduce crime and the fear of crime, and to enhance public safety and security.”

But with accused violent offenders being released in significant numbers without being electronically monitored, Turnquest expressed concern in Parliament last month that in many instances judges are ignoring the option.

The national security minister also came under fire in some circles but drew support in other circles when he suggested several weeks ago that some judges are too liberal in the grant of bail, which could be contributing to the high level of violent crime in the country.

In October, Parliament passed an amended Bail Act, which limits the circumstances under which bail can be granted.

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