How Many More Victims?

| 03/11/2011

Violent repeat offenders terrorise women in our community and violent robberies have become almost a weekly occurrence. Despite this the government has so far not brought forward legislation that will keep violent criminals off our streets.

A proposal for very minor amendments to the Penal Code has been published in the past few days. While there are a few welcome changes, there is nothing in the proposals that will curb violent crime. Not only that, but rather than toughing sentences for gang activity, the proposed legislation seeks to eliminate the current minimum sentences for gang involvement and therefore to permit much more lenient punishment for gang activity. Who is the government trying to please by doing that?

There is nothing complex in what needs to be done and there is no need to re-invent the wheel. Examples of the types of very simple legislative provisions we need to keep our community safer can be easily found by anyone taking 5 minutes to look for them.  

By way of example, the British government which also has problems with violent repeat offenders, has introduced draft changes to their criminal law. In contrast to what is being proposed for Cayman, the draft British legislation actually appears to be aimed at keeping violent offenders off the street.

Under the changes proposed in the UK there will be a "two strikes and you're out" mandatory life sentence for anyone convicted of a second very serious sexual or violent offence. I am sure that the vast majority of the electorate would support this type of approach. 

In addition, under the UK proposals all dangerous criminals convicted of serious and violent sexual crimes will be required to serve at least two-thirds of their sentence before being considered for parole. Further, parole of the most serious offenders will require “the approval of the parole board and those paroled will be under a recall licence for at least 10 years”. I am sure that the vast majority of the electorate would prefer that approach over the “slap on the wrist and out the door” policy that is in place here in Cayman. Why is our government proposing to maintain the current revolving door policy for violent criminals?

The UK is also criminalising the activities of the middle men who handle or conceal guns on behalf of other criminals. The UK will have a new offence of possession of an illegal firearm with intent to supply, with a maximum sentence of life in prison. This new offence will be in addition to the existing but harder to prove charge of possession of a gun with intent to endanger life. The penalty for the offence of importing a weapon without a license will increase under British proposals to 14 years. Why has the government not proposed similar changes?

It is not suggested that what the UK is proposing is sufficient to make our streets safer, but it is far better than the current soft on violent crime approach. In my view, the discretion of judges to impose “slaps on the wrist” should be constrained by legislated minimal sentences for all violent crimes, subject to only extremely limited exceptions.  Concurrent sentences for violent and gang related crimes should be prohibited in all but very exceptional circumstances as concurrent sentences provide no deterrence. At present, a violent criminal may get the same soft sentence for 20 violent robberies as for one. A person who rapes 20 women may only be punished for the first rape, if at all. Where is the justice in that? Why is the government proposing to maintain that injustice?

It is only the elected government that can give us the legislation we need to make our streets safer and we need such legislation now. No matter what the government may say to suggest that they have no role in reducing crime in our country, only they can pass the laws we need, and they must be held accountable when they fail to act. 

We must also be aware that only rarely is time taken in the LA to even consider fixing what is wrong with our law relating to the sentencing of violent criminals. We need to demand that our politicians abandon the current soft on violent crime approach and instead immediately bring in legislation that will keep violent criminals off our streets. This can be done by introducing amendments to the recently proposed legislation as it goes through the LA. Perhaps that is what the government has been planning to do all along. If not, I hope one of the opposition MLAs will move the required amendments so that the government can clearly be seen to be opposed to making our community safer. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Viewpoint

About the Author ()

Comments (38)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the two strikes.

    On the first conviction, the first strike, "one" is removed.  The second strike, the "other" is removed.  I doubt any male would want a third strike……


  2. Anonymous says:

    Neither party seems interested in being tough on the criminals. If we want our streets to be safe next time vote SQUID.

    • Anonymous says:

      If the SQUID or any independents give unequivocal commitments to end this soft on crime nonsense then I will definitely vote for them next election.

  3. Anonymous says:

    How many more vicitms? Quite a few probably until we make the changes suggested here,

  4. Anonymous says:

    The current government is ridiculous proposing new laws to lock up "tramps" but allowing violent thugs and sex predators to stay on our streets. What the hell are they thinking, if thinking is even possible for them.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The current laws and the Parole Board make it too easy for violent criminals to get back on our streets. That needs to change.

  6. Anonymous says:

    We also need to do something about the people who assist these violent criminals. I understand that in the recent case there was an arrest warrent out for him for many months but that someone washiding him. Whoever hides a violent criminal should be sent to jail as well.

    • Anonymous says:

      5 years minimum.

      • Anonymous says:

        No not Five Years.  How about the person assisting gets the same sentence as the person that did it.  Hopefully the sentence is approximately 10 years. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    The 10 year minimum recall licenses are a good idea. Any criminal activity of any kind in the ten years after they are released and straight back to prison – don't stop at Go – just gone.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Add a sex offender registry to what is proposed here and it makes a very good plan for any politician to adopt. Are there any that will speak up for what the people want on this one?

  9. Anonymous says:

    What is the connection between the gangs and the politicians?

  10. Anonymous says:

    I don't see anything being done as the politicians are men and the victims are women.

  11. Anonymous says:

    These are all great ideas but I don't see the current government doing anything. Having predators roaming the streets keeps the peoples attention off what the politicians doing.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Maybe if someone figures out that the Chinese could be asked to build a new prison on land owned by someone connected then there would be an interest in keeping dangerous offenders in prison.

    • Anonymous says:

      The thing about Chinese prisons is that as soon as you have finished one sentence you feel the need to risk another one,

  13. noname says:

    Why is this writer allowed to use the name “Pedro St. James” as his/her cover?

    This reference to Pedro St. James should not be allowed as this is a Historical site and an entity’s actual name.

    Find another cover to use if you cannot use your own name.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would be very surprised if there was any confusion about whether the building was writing or not.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why is this writer allowed to use the name "Anonymous" as his/her cover?

      This name should not be allowed as this is the name of an actual movie directed by Roland Emmerich, starring Rhys Ifans and Vanessa Redgrave and recently released to theatres worldwide.

      Find another cover to use if you cannot use your own name.


    • Anonymous says:

      Was it not the first seat of democracy on Grand Cayman?

    • Bush's 10 Foot Fence says:

      Don’t be so sensitive. Gee.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I think that the things suggested here are great but how does it work? Can the opposition MLAs propose amendments to the changes the government wants? Do the oppostion proposals get voted on at the same time? 

  15. Anonymous says:

    There should be minimum sentences for all crimes involving guns and no exceptions. The gun men get off too easily.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Why should violent criminals get parole at all? They should serve their full very long sentences.

  17. Anonymous says:

    We also need to reform the prison to make it less attractive to go there.

  18. Anonymous says:

    The society at large needs to show support and compassion to victims of these predators instead of judgment and negativity.

    Families of predators need to realize the best thing for them is to receive help for their destructive behavior that is showing true caring for them, covering up and enabling does not really help them.

    • Anonymous says:

      ok, but we still need to lock up the "three-time losers" for 25 years to life, no early release.

      • Anonymous says:

        Better yet lock up the 2 time losers for at least 100 years.

      • Anonymous says:

        When I say the families of these predators need to get help for them I mean they should alert the authorities that these people are sexual predators, or in other words turn them in.

        Keeping the secrets of a sexual predator is more than just destructive it is criminal.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I agree 100% with the changes this Viewpoint proposes. Until recently I had no idea of how quickly repeat violent criminals go through the system and are deliberately put back on the streets where they are able to commit more violent crimes. This has to end.

    • Anonymous says:

      The description "revolving door" is very accurate the way things are. They hardly have time for some free food and AC before they are back on the streets again.