Crime, murders, lawlessness, corruption and poverty are major issues facing The Bahamas today. Below are some strategic recommendations that may resolve some of these vexing problems:
1. Identify and resolve poverty issues. Poverty is the number one cause of crime. We must study the social impact and causes of poverty and address them. Involve the church, non-government organizations, government agencies and special interest groups that focus on the needs of the poor.
Address social problems with a plan of action. We have had too much talk for too long and crime has reached epidemic levels in The Bahamas.
2. Enforce capital and corporal punishment laws. Laws presently on the books must be enforced and not disregarded because of political correctness globally.
We should immediately implement capital and corporal punishment for repeat offenders of violent crime. Fear should be instilled in the criminally minded.
We must strengthen our laws to ensure that the Privy Council cannot overturn the death penalty for murder convictions. It is time for parliamentarians to take bold, courageous steps to end the carnage on our streets. The buck stops with them. We demand action, not excuses.3. Put gun offenders away for a long time.
Amend laws with a minimum sentence of 10 years with hard labor for first-time conviction of possession of illegal firearms and 20 years for second-time convictions.
4. Have a zero tolerance for rape and sexual assault, especially with minor victims. Persons convicted of rape or the sexual assault of minors, should be given maximum sentences, which should be amended to longer terms along with corporal punishment. We recommend 20 years for convicted rapists.
5. Prosecute corruption and bribery. This culture of corruption among politicians and public officials should be dealt with by an independent commission against corruption, which will make recommendations for prosecution.
It is obvious that this has not been a priority of any previous administration. When politicians and public officials are allowed to get away with blatant corruption and bribery, we create a corrupt culture throughout the nation, which has happened.
6. Empower Bahamians financially. We again call on the government to give each Bahamian, age 18 or older, one acre of Crown land and install the proper infra- structure. Land is wealth. When this is done, we will still have over three million acres remaining for future generations and for further development.
• Provide food security for the nation.
• Bahamians are entitled to live in a safe country without being plagued with crime and lawlessness. I urge the government of The Bahamas to cause this to happen.
• Provide low cost homes and financing for Bahamians in need who cannot qualify for loans.
• Grant tax exemptions to the poor and provide home- less shelters and hurricane shelters for Bahamians that need them.
• Develop major Family Islands to provide jobs and opportunities for the population to shift from a vastly over-populated New Providence to the Family Islands.
• Explore natural resources throughout The Bahamas and ensure that they are subsidized and benefit every single Bahamian and not just selected families or special interests.
7. Land reform. Establish a land register for every plot of land in the country. Regularize property known as commonage or generation property and empower families to be able to develop such properties. The government can grant title deeds to such families and allow them to monetize or develop such properties.
Please send these recommendations to your member of Parliament, pastor and top government officials for review and action.
The Bahamas needs some drastic changes. If we don’t address these matters now, we risk an upheaval or revolution in the future; or even a civil war. Let’s fix this problem now and stop playing with the future of our people.
— Bishop Walter S. Hanchell chairman, Citizens for Justice Bahamas