The establishment of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee was recently approved by Cabinet and will hopefully commence its work by September, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders (Amendment) Act, 2015 was gazetted on November 24, 2015.
It mandated the establishment of a committee that would review expungement applications of first time and young offenders.
However, the committee was never formed.
Dames said, “That committee has [now] been formed and I believe that would’ve been approved by Cabinet in the recent various government committees and will be announced shortly.”
He said the committee should “hopefully…begin work shortly”.
Asked if the committee was set to start its work before September, Dames said, “Yes, it’s quite possible.”
When pressed on the members of the committee, the minister said, “I can’t recall the names of the persons who are on it but that committee has been approved.”
The committee will be appointed by the governor general and will consist of no less than five members.
The members will serve on the committee for a period of three years.
According to the legislation, after five years, first time offenders and young offenders, who are defined as individuals under 21 at the date of conviction, are able to apply for the removal of their criminal records.
The committee will hear applications to all offenses excluding manslaughter, murder, treason, armed robbery, rape and kidnapping.
It can also expunge records for offenders convicted of possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply if the offender was found with a quantity of less than 10 pounds of Indian hemp, two pounds of cocaine or 20 grams of opium morphine and its salts including heroin.
Although the committee is newly formed, Dames said criminal records are already “being expunged on a regular basis”.
“There are certain offenses that after a specified period, and I believe it’s after seven years, are expungeable offenses and that are automatically taken off of persons’ records after a specified period,” he said.