Are Cayman’s laws too lax?

| 27/10/2008

The right of the community to be informed of potential offenders in our midst must be weighed against the basic legal principle that the accused is innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law by a jury of their peers and further that they have exhausted all their legal rights.

In a population pool as small as ours, can anyone with an internet address be called to jury duty nowadays and be trusted to limit themselves to examine the evidence presented in an objective, non-biased manner and hand out a fair verdict?

The seemingly new idea of placing alleged offenders on the world-wide web and having them quickly “convicted” in the court of open public opinion does not bode well with me. We must guard against this seemingly “rush to judgment” becoming an obsession and in the end, allowing a hardened criminal who should be removed from the law abiding midst of our society and neighborhoods’, remain simply because a fair and just trial could not reasonably be expected to be given due to the “alleged perpetrator” already having been convicted in the open arena of public opinion and “world-wide web” court of weak jurisprudence.

I believe most of us agree that the sentence handed out on the recent case of indecent assault on a five year old was – to say the least – ludicrous, and a result of laws that are not severe enough to be effective deterrents for the kind of gut-wrenching offenses we are witnessing in our islands today.

Though I expect the usual segments of the population to oppose the reinstatement of capital punishment, I really fail to see why the law abiding majority of us should pay for years of humane living conditions for offenders that obviously forfeited their humanity when they chose to commit such heinous offenses. The idea of my hard-earned tax money being utilized to provide three meals a day, medical and dental care, clothes and a token salary to such offenders is anathema to me. I would prefer to help needy children or the elderly with my tax dollars.

And this is with the backdrop that today’s crimes ´seemingly are being committed by younger perpetrators, thus their likelihood of long term incarceration and additional “prison housing costs” will be of a greater and ever larger costs to me and you. Thus we ALL need to be concerned in regards to what now seems to be an attitude of “creeping criminality” and “passive acceptance of criminality in our society”. It ought to be and must be stamped out at its early stages, or else we will ALL suffer long term and dire consequences for failure to act decisively today.

In conclusion, I think that excessive leakage of information before a case goes to trial will ultimately undermine our legal system. However, our laws need to become as harsh as the crimes that are being committed, and if reliance on the old adage of “ I want my pound of flesh”, is to be relied on, then I too think that life in prison is not enough for murder in the first degree and neither are a few years for a serious crime against a minor!

In short, we have much to be thankful for yet in our mostly tranquil and socially harmonic society, and this should give us all greater impetus to rally around the campaign to stamp out “creeping criminality” within our Caymanian society.

 

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Category: Viewpoint

Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe what I have just read!!   Unbelievable that in this day and age, that such barbaric viewpoint could come from.   Thank God there is no death penalty here.  

    I worked in a psychiatrist prision for many years in another large country and I will tell you that the majority of men that commit these inhumane crimes are actually ill.  Some of them have serious psychological problems and would need to be locked up for the rest of their lives as they cannot differ between right and wrong and some of them understand that what they are doing is wrong but their sexual preference is towards children rather than the opposite sex or even homosexual. 

    I have seen many cases, whether it was crimes of a sexual nature or violent crimes, that once these men were treated for their illness, the guilt and remorse they felt when they realised to the full extent of what they had done, tipped them over the edge. 

    We need tougher laws alright, not death penalty but certainly life imprisionment.  We need better mental care in Cayman in order to help the ill and perhaps be able to identify the individuals who would be more likely to commit crimes of any nature. 

    There is too much sweeping under the carpet here of these issues and then we all wonder why henious crimes are committed and how on earth somebody could do such a thing – well maybe if we were more open and had good psychiatric care then some of these disgusting crimes could be prevented.

  2. Anonymous says:

    In those US states that use the death penalty it actually costs more than life in prison, with all the appeals processes and "death row" housing and secruity. So costs would be worse, unless you follow the Iran, Chinese method of execution straight after show trial.

    • Anonymous says:

      It may cost more in the U.S. simply because they are held on deathrow for too long: 10-20 years. Under our system there is no reason that all appeals cannot be exhausted within 5 years.   

  3. Anonymous says:

    In addition to the points George makes re rushing to judgement, I have heard no discussion yet of another important point for a country as small as ours.

    In the vast majority of child sexual abuse cases, the offender is someone well known to the family.

    If we have a public register of the type proposed, how long before the more inquisitive gossipres among us put things together and work out who the victim was ?

    A public register of convicted sex offenders might sound like a good idea on the surface, but we must be very, very careful of what this could do to the victims.

     

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think Ms. Catron said "alleged" she said convicted sex offenders should be placed on the web.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thankfully the issue of capital punishment cannot be brought back to the table as legislation permitting the death penalty would be a breach of the United Kingdom’s international treaty obligations. Compared to the usual standard of the Viewpoint column on this site, this contribution was woeful in content and analysis.  To justify the death penatly essentially on grounds of cost and vengeance is barbaric and inhuman.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think that Mr. George is right on the button in his most fortright and thoughtful letter. Perhaps, before others complain, they could do something about the cause of which he so elegantly writes?