|Careful political discourse|
Published: Jun 20, 2012
Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson revealed in the Senate on Monday that more than 400 people charged with murder in the past 10 years are on bail. That is a large number and an indication of the high number of killings we have had in recent years and the inability of the criminal justice system to process these matter quickly.
Early in his last term in office, then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham lambasted Perry Christie and his former administration in the House of Assembly for their failure to better manage the criminal justice system. For there being more than 100 people on bail for murder when the Christie administration left office in 2007, Ingraham branded his opponents and their efforts as “wutless”.
Based on what the attorney general said in the Senate, under the last Ingraham administration the number of accused killers on bail increased significantly. Ingraham’s rant about the Progressive Liberal Party and its failure to properly manage the justice system became an ad in the election. He likely regrets his words.
We have serious problems in our justice system from the investigation stage of cases to when and how they are prosecuted. When staring at crises leaders should speak soberly and reasonably to their electorates of the matters at hand and how they will be tackled. All should be wary of promising to fix problems they don’t fully understand.
The Christie administration is now back in power and the crime problem is worse than where the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) left it five years ago. The new government has begun to set in motion its crime-fighting initiatives and we all hope they work. But again, the political instinct to criticize your opponents for their failure and to boast about “apparent successes” has emerged.
Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell boasted in the Senate on Monday that there were no murders for a week under the PLP and suggested that his government’s efforts are working. We hope the trend continues, but what happens when there are nine or 10 murders in a week? Do we say the PLP has failed?
It is too early to determine if what the PLP is doing is working. Bell should be cautious so he does not end up like Ingraham, forever trapped by words that should never have been uttered.
“We are making every effort to get to the bottom of the situation,” said Maynard-Gibson of the bail problem.
That full state effort is required. It is not fair to accused people to have murder charges hanging over their heads for years and years and years. And it is unjust for the families of victims to not have matters heard in court.
When in power politicians should work and let the results speak for them. With crisis issues, making wild political statements just to attack your enemy or to boast can come back to haunt the one making the remarks.