Friday, Oct 19, 2018
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CJ: Courts not to blame for crime

Stephen Isaacs.

The courts are often unfairly blamed for the rising crime rate, Acting Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs said Thursday.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the opening of the legal year, Isaacs said, “We are doing our part and great effort has been expended to discharge our role. We work in silence as we are prohibited from making public comment and addressing the misconceived notion that we are causing crime to rise.”

Isaacs pointed out that crime is really a social problem, and that courts only become involved once the crime has been committed.

Isaacs said, “In this mix there are positive forces doing whatever possible to create responsible citizens, such as committed parents, youth organizations, the church and the attendant outreach programs.”

Isaacs said courts are all too often the focus of negative chatter in this regard.

“It must be remembered that the courts have a specific function that is only triggered after all of the other factors have affected an offender and the deed is done,” he said.

Isaacs noted that most of the Supreme Court’s resources were focused on criminal matters,

He said, “There are 10 criminal courts in operation, and if you juxtapose that to the huge number of indictable offenses committed during the course of a year, such as murder, manslaughter, armed robberies and rape, among other trials where an accused person may select trial by jury, you will see the task at hand.”

As a consequence of the focus on crime, civil matters have “experienced an expanded lapse between filing claims and getting to trial”.

He said, “That issue is an unintended consequence of the focus on crime, but we expect to address it in short order and to bring some relief to the civil bench.”


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