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Crime and how Caymanians are being kept out of the work force

Peter Polack
Peter Polack

By Peter Polack

The Problem

  • 10,000 or 20 per cent of the population has a criminal conviction
  • Grand Court had 118 pending cases in January 2015 with 23 of those cases from 2012
  • The Summary Courts deal with about 10,000 cases in a year. In 2004 there were 4,341 Summary Court cases and in 2008 it was around 9,678.
  • There are 582 warrants for arrest outstanding.
  • There are over 660 firearm license holders, many with multiple gun. There are nearly 2,000 guns, doubling in the last five years from 300.
  • Six firearms are missing or were stolen between 2012 and 2013. Only 20 per cent of firearm holders checked annually.
  • There are two licensed firearm holders with pending criminal charges: one in the Cayman Islands and one in a U.S. Territory.
  • 70 to 80 per cent of the prison population for drug consumption
  • Several hundred people are on police bail
  • The Cayman Islands has one of world’s highest prison populations per capita.
  • Fifty pending court cases in the Cayman Islands have recently been stopped or stayed by the Summary Court as a result of prosecution and police failures to pursue them

The Solution

  • Decriminalisation by changing minor offences such as possession of small amounts of ganja, consumption, minor traffic offences to be dealt with by administrative fines and ticket system.
  • Removal of minor and ancient offences from Penal Code and other laws.
  • Reduction of penalties for non-violent offences. There is no regarded empirical data that proves more severe sentences make less crime.
  • Amendment of the Rehabilitation of Offenders law. Presently a fine will take five years to expunge and up to six months will take seven years. This will make convicted persons more marketable in the work force.
  • Review of thousands of pending Summary Court cases to dismiss: aged cases, cases where prosecution is unlikely to succeed, minor cases, cases especially assault where both parties agree termination. To be done by panel of judge, prosecutor and lawyer.
  • Early release of non-violent offenders.
  • Introduction of a plea bargain system similar to Jamaica legislation introduced in 2005.
  • Termination of private ownership of firearms except police. Removal of multi gun ownership.600 firearm holders cannot hold 60,000 hostage.
  • Term limits for Director of Public Prosecutions and Attorney General.
  • Introduction of a Caymanian-only community service non-police unit with Caymanian lead community officer unit reporting to the Deputy Governor. Provides employment, provides employment for young persons at risk, give people a stake in community. This is an established service in the UK.

Peter Polack was born in Jamaica in 1958 where he attended various schools including Jamaica College until 1972 when he went to Denstone College boarding school in England. He is a proud graduate of the University of the West Indies and Norman Manley Law School. Whilst at UWI he was co-founder of the Amnesty International campus group and a member of the Union of Democratic Students. A criminal lawyer in the Cayman Islands since 1983, he resides there with his family. He was a former rapporteur of the International Bar Association, Co-Founder and first Treasurer Caymanian Bar Association. His only hobby but not a current interest is practical pistol shooting. In July 2005 he organized a Cuba relief shipment after Hurricane Dennis from generous donors of the Cayman Islands. Research on his first book, Last Hot Battle of the Cold War led to the first international release of Cuban casualties of the Angola War published in the Miami Herald 20 February 2010. Inspired by the book and experiences with youthful offenders the exhibit of his first work as an artist entitled The Confinement Assemblage was displayed at the Cayman Islands National Gallery in May 2013.The exhibit is now on permanent display at HM Prison Northward in the Cayman Islands. In 2014 he became a part time reporter for Reuters News Agency reporting on the Cuban refugee crisis in the Cayman Islands. He was a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Warfare recently published by Amber Books. His most recent article, Syria: The Evolution Revolution was published in the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center magazine June 2014.He is a part time reporter for Reuters News Agency in the Cayman Islands. In June 2014 he co-founded the Northward Prison Legal Clinic with his daughter Olivia.

Any opinions expressed here are the author’s own.

 

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