MLAs vote for double jail

| 16/12/2014

(CNS): The country's politicians want to see convicted criminals serve more time behind bars. Government has accepted a private member’s motion brought by the two George Town Coalition for Cayman backbench members, which passed unanimously in the parliament before it was adjourned last week until the New Year. Winston Connolly’s motion asked government to consider doubling the prison terms for people convicted of offences which relate to the residential, tourism and financial services sectors to reflect what he said were the wishes of the community in the face of rising crime and adopt a zero tolerance position. Connolly said Cayman was experiencing the full array of serious crimes, which was impacting the main pillars of the economy.

The motion came following a debate on another private member's motion recently brought by the independent members for a 'three strikes and you are out' policy when dealing with convicted offenders, which won broad support in the Legislative Assembly.

With crime high on the political agenda at present, Connolly pointed to concerns that the full gambit of crimes taking place in Cayman, from car-jackings and murders to financial crime and street robberies, is taking its toll on the community and the economy. As a result, he said, stiffer jail terms are required. The George Town backbencher said government should give particular consideration to upping the ante with the sentencing of crimes committed against the financial services sector, in tourism related circumstances as well as crimes in residential areas.

Connolly told his MLA colleges, as he presented the motion, supported by Roy McTaggart, that calm and reasonable people were now cursing at the politicians to do something about the perceived rising crime. He also warned that if people in high places were committing crime and not following the rule,s things would get worst.

“Crime is impacting the investment climate and growth and it is increasing costs of doing business and causing reputational loss,” he said, noting that tourists can do much damage on interactive sites such as TripAdvisor when they are the victims of crime. “News of crime here can get round the world really quickly,” he warned.

He said that despite the statistics reflecting a fall in the number of serious crimes, he believed that when people are afraid to go out, when they are locking themselves in and not enjoying life because of their perception of crime, the numbers don’t matter and something had to be done.

The George Town member pointed out that the proposed revitalization of the capital would fail if government couldn’t assure investor and business owners that there was a zero tolerance approach to crime. He urged government to put the necessary resources into crime prevention and call for greater deterrence regarding punishment, as he said criminals should be afraid of law enforcement and the subsequent punishment.

He called for more crimes to be solved and cleared up as well as tougher sentencing, alongside incentives such as creating an environment to generate jobs. He also spoke of the need to prevent too much money and profit leaving the country at the expense of the people. He said with locals not feeling the benefit from the wealth in the economy, this fuelled frustrations.

Connolly called for an “effective crime strategy” as well as the reform of the police and the judiciary to make them more efficient. But he also acknowledged the need to address social deprivation and education standards.

Pointing to past mistakes of leaders in the community who ignored the growing crime problems because it didn’t affect them and allowed people in the community to fall through the cracks, he said now it was time for the politicians to  demonstrate moral leadership and the need to get tough on crime.

Roy McTaggart, who seconded the motion, said the goal was not “to fetter the discretion of the courts but to send a message that our citizens feel unsafe and want stronger action from the police and courts”. He added that what was happening now is not working as criminals don’t fear sentences or respect the rule of law.

Although the motion was supported on both sides of the House, the opposition leader pointed out that tougher penalties were not necessarily the answer, as he pointed to the United States where officials are reconsidering lengthy jail terms. McKeeva Bush also said it was costly to keep people in prison.

Bush said the breakdown in casual labour market was part of the problem. He asked if society would benefit from a mother who was caught shoplifting to feed her child was given a longer jail term. He pointed out that if she goes to jail government has to take care of the child, making things worse for that family and the public purse.

He said it was a more stable workforce that was needed, not more jail. Heasked if there was going to be more police to protect the areas where Connolly was concerned about as he said it was foot patrols and community policing which would have a real impact on crime.

Arden McLean, from East End, while offering his support to Connolly’s motion pointed out that before criminals could be locked up for longer, the police had to catch them. He then said the evidence had to be there and the crown prosecutors had to secure a conviction in the court. He said that in the absence of a well-managed police force and prosecution system, longer jail terms would be pointless. McLean said policing had “gone from bad to worse” as he lamented the failure of officers to turn up when crime was reported until sometimes days after the event.

The independent member also pointed out that regardless of where the powers lay, elected members are still blamed for crime. He said because of that the politicians on all sides needed to get together, behind closed doors if necessary, to address what is happening with the police and to discuss putting provisions in place to improve the criminal justice system.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Whitson Connolly lives in a luxury condo on SMB. The majority of robberies are committed away from SMB therefore this is a waster of government's time to even consider this approach. Rather than berating the police. maybe the Immigration department should take a closer look at the qualiity of the people on work permits. OR THE ENDLESS PEOPLE WHO HAVE WORK PERMITS BUT THEIR BOSSES DO NOT HAVEWORK FOR THEM AND AS LONG AS THEY PAY THEIR BOSSES A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA THEY WILL RENEW THEIR WORK PERMITS. THIS IS THE PROBLEM. Why at 1pm on anyday during the week you walk into any barber shop this island and endless people (who are clearly not Caymanian) are sitting around and hanging out!!! IMMIGRATION is where this problem starts.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Increasing the time don’t mean nothing if they’re appealing & walking free! Gt voter

  3. Anonymous says:

    Here we go, putting down a caymanians again, Winston well done you brought a motion to the house, you are doing your job, I know of a few back benchers and members of the ppm who have not brought any motions to the house at all.. There is one WB MLA who I believe has been in the house for 12 plus years and has never brought any motions to the house.. 

    I do not agree with this. Motion, reason being all we will be doing is paying additional funds for someone to remain in prison. $60k per year I beleive right now for a prisoner.

    my solution orat least one thing I would like is for us to really work on our youth and education, we need to start there not longer sentences. 

    Again I am not going to put Winston down as I am sure as a rookie he is still learning the ropes, and who knows what motion he will bring next…

  4. Anonymous says:

    Severely disappointed in Winston. You have the power to propose a law and this is what you bring??? Tell me how this helps your people? Ridiculous. Short sighted. Reactionary. A complete and absolute disappointment. How about making some real change and improvement in Education and Labour – where you are supposedly a "councillour"?

  5. Messenjah says:


    There has always been a debate about the cost of bigger prisons vs rehabilitation. If you have not read the research, rehab costs alot less. Can the Country afford this cost?

    Work on helping the most vulnerable, 18- 25 yr olds, to access jobs or education/training.

    Address the cause and the Country wil reap long-term benefits.


    • Anonymous says:

      Deportation costs a lot less and is consistently more effective than rehabilitation.

  6. Anonymous says:

    To Arden’s point we are still piecemealing when it comes to addressing crime; in an ad hoc manner no less. Longer sentences alone will likely not to have the deterrent effect desired by Winston.

    Question – will this cover marine offences too since the sea is directly tied to tourism?

  7. Concerned 1 says:


    This is all you can come up with. A law to keep the poorest segment of the population in jail longer? I am feeling more and more that the PPM is aligned with the Republican Party in the US when it comes to their mentality.

    When the US (Republicans) strated the war on drugs they decreed hefty sentences for drugs in the black community (Crack) and ligther sentences for drugs more commonly associated with the middle to upper class (cocaine) thereby encarcerating a large section of the empovireshed black community. In this case Winston, you are basically saying that crimes commited by poor people (mostly un-educated caymanians) should be stiffer than crimes perpetrated by white collar  individuals. Is this right?     

    How about trying to educate some of them.

    How about creating a trade school so they can learn a skill.

    How about a mandatory literacy program which they have to pass before they can be released from jail. 

    How about a jobs program for when they are released from jail to reduce the recedivism rate.

  8. Legal Smeagol says:

    This is primarily to do with symbolism. However, as a practical matter, the courts are currently unable to make even short sentences stick as a result of the poor quality of policing and prosecuting.

    Passing laws is the easy part. Enforcing them? That is a whole other issue.


  9. Anonymous says:

    This young man is going places. His name alone speaks volume. Good chap.

    • Anonymous says:

      This Yong man should be the leader of the Cayman Islands .  For you to be the only one that see and know that the crime and corruption is destroying the Islands, and other politians would respond to the motion so negative about the motion ,  makes me wonder if the other politians care about the future of the Islands . Remember Mr Connolly the motion you have made would save the Islands and you will find yourself in the history books . One more thing to do is to have the policeman look at and see what they're not doing to help in the fight against crime . Tell Mack to sit down and shut up if he can't understand how this is the feature of the Islands .

  10. Anonymous says:

    Rub some time! Lol

  11. Knot S Smart says:

    But what will the Human Rights Fanatics think…

    • Anonymous says:

      Jail those Human Rights fanatics first! they are the fundamental distruction of the Universe.

      It's incomprehensible,  just  when the World is experiencing so much inhuman acts of atrosity by Jihadist, murderers and other harden criminals.

      This group of Human Rights want to put them back in society to contunue to cause havoc in the World.  Shame on them!

    • Anonymous says:

      I don't want to overanalyse it but your question does appear to imply a prejudging of the issue?  Maybe I'm imagining it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Now if we can just move past the "catch-and-release" programme which is run by the legal system on Island, this law may perhaps become applicable in the future!

  13. Cat says:

    I knew I voted for an intelligent man!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic news!! Now if only the police could get a charge to stick….how about introducing a charge for cocking up the prosecution by incompetence? That should focus minds a little

  15. Anonymous says:

    Did you know that doing the same thing over and over again, with the expectations of a different outcome is called insanity?

  16. Anonymous says:

    What a waste and I thought by giving Winston my vote I was voting for an educated person. I was so Wrong!!!

  17. Fred the Piemaker says:

    Does it apply to assault on an employee in the work place?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Someone needs to remind the Leader of the Opposition that it's not single mothers with children to feed who are committing these heinous crimes.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone told the police that breaking laws is illegal? They sure seem to be very tolerant of it.

    • Anonymous says:

      When someone is caught committing a crime, the Police spend most of their time and energy trying to talk you out of pressing charges. I've never heard of a juistice system where prosecution for breaking the law is at the discretion of the victim, but that is what happens here. A good place to start with fixing the system would be to give the Police officers a basic literacy test. I believe a major issue is the officer's unwillingness or inability to fill out the paperwork. That and the inconvenience of having to show up in court if you actually document and file a case. You guys can bash Baines all you want, but the real problem stems from incompetecy at the street level. Time to raise te bar on hiring.    

      • Anonymous says:

        Since when do victims press charges in criminal cases?  A file is surely passed from the police to the DPP, and the DPP decides whether to proceed?

        I think you have been watching too much Law and Order.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Well done Winston, great move. I am glad that one person in Government is taking notice of the appalling situation regarding violent crime (unlike Ossie who appears to be adding to it!)

    • Anonymous says:

      I love how Mac's only contribution is that "it is costly to keep people in prison".

      First off Mac, if these assholes keeping doing what they are doing without serious ramifications, they wil cost this country its main pillars of our economy you absolute idiot.

      Tourists wil no longer come here for a start. And the Financial Industry will disappear because of all the crime that will ensue due to lack of tourism.

      And secondly Mac, it seems to be very very very costly to keep your ass employed. How many hundreds of million have you wasted and cost the Country?

    • peter milburn says:

      Keep up the pressure Winston and the good work you are doing for the Country.

  21. Anonymous says:

    OK, no problem if they stay in their neighborhoods and rob each other. This is so ridiculous.

    • Anonymous says:

      PURE BOLLOCKS! This is elitist and discriminatory.

      Apparently a crime committed in Salt Creek should by implication carry a bigger penalty than one committed in Windsor Park or Eastern Ave if you read between the lines. This is classic political posturing and playing to the gallery pretending to do something. 

  22. Anonymous says:

    Mr Connolly please don't put this issue on the back burner .  I have to think that you see the feature of the Islands in where the crime and corruption is taking the the Islands . Remember to take the lead on this motion to the LA , and don't let Mac derail you .

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr. Connolly do you support Baines? Should he still have his job? 

  23. Anonymous says:

    So, 480 hours of "community service?"

  24. Anonymous says:

    Drug addicts are not fully conscious to the potential ramifications of their actions.  For the many of them without alaw degree; the prospect of a one, two, five, or twenty year sentence does not necessarily enter their psyche, nor dissuade them from doing whatever it takes to get that next hit.

    We should be more honest about the shortcomings of our social landscape, focusing instead on the missing social programs that work to dissuade this pattern of behavior before it happens.  Detention, rehab, and parole system that should be working to drive down the high rate of recidivism.

    We also need a judiciary system that proceeds to court with better evidence, with attention to procedure, so that dangerous career criminals are not later released on first appeal.  The RCIPS needs to be trained and equipped to gather better and more timely evidence before the scene spoils or becomes irresponsibly contaminated.  We also need an apparatus where the public can  feel that they can confidently provide evidence without criminal retribution.  We need the RCIPS and MLAs to convince us that they are trying to interdict the transhipment economies (with more than one little boat in the Brac).  

    Longer criminal sentences do not address any of the above issues.    

  25. The Judge says:

    Talk, Talk, Talk!  That's all it is.  Just talk!  If you want a reduction in crime, you have to make a reduction in criminals.  And I don't mean locking them up and taking care of them.  Most of these criminals start with "small" crimes and continue their ways looking for more and more profitable robberies and thefts.  There is no better way to reduce crime than the execution of repeat offenders.   No public money spent on jail upkeep.  No money spent on food and clothing.  No money spent on healthcare.  There is no money spent for anything on the career criminals once they are executed.  What do you want to do……   do you want to continue being mugged and robbed or get rid of the trash and live in a safe island paradise!

  26. Anonymous says:

    The police. Is always arresting and rearresting offenders, question what is happening with rehabilitation in the prison, government invested a lot of money in this area, I wonder how much money was invested last year and what are the results. What about the drug treatment programs, sex offenders, education and skills training program, any results , I feel we are getting public relation speeches instead of hearing of the hard facts. What is the recidivism for the last 2 years.  We need to know, how much money did government spend on the prison last year and this year?  If this is not address the problem will continue. We don't need anecdotal pr. We need the facts.

  27. Anonymous says:

    A proposed law that clearly does not comply with human rights norms.

    • Anonymous says:

      So what, there appears to be more more rights for animals than humans in this country anyway.

      • Mr. C. Lion says:

        Given that animals are unable to defend, or speak out for, themselves, seems perfectly fair to me.

  28. Anonymous says:

    If harsher sentences led to less crime this would be good news. If only!

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the reasoning is that "career" criminals would be behind bars rather than out and about free to commit more crimes, as happens presently. While it wouldn't  eliminate crime, it has the potential to at least curtail some of it., surely.