Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019
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Barbados’ sensible bail amendment

Dear Editor,

Before any Bahamian government or commissioner of police gets too comfortable with the recent marginal reductions in several categories of violent crime, we would do well to finally address the underlying matter at the heart of our violent crime problem. That matter is the easy availability of guns and our politicians’ and courts’ dereliction of duty in the areas of bail for violent crimes and sentencing for gun possession.

As usual, one of our southern neighbors (this time Barbados) has proved more proactive than us, notwithstanding that their rate of gun crime and murder is minuscule compared to ours. A bill introduced last week to the Barbadian Parliament will, when enacted, ensure that no individual charged with murder, or a firearms offense punishable by at least 10 years in prison (which includes mere possession in Barbados), will be considered for bail within two years after they were charged – except in special circumstances.

Meanwhile, in The Bahamas we appear poised to move in the other direction, with members of the bench agitating for the return of bail discretion to magistrates for serious offenses such as murder.

If ever we had a government prepared to act appropriately in the matter of bail and sentencing for gun crimes, rates of violent crime would drop dramatically in The Bahamas, given the prevalence of prolific offending by and against people on bail and those given pitifully light sentencing for gun possession.

– Andrew Allen

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