AG: One strike and out

Govt seeks to amend Bail Act

By Ria Taitt Political Editor

Government wants to amend the Bail Act to deny bail to persons charged with sexual offences invol­ving a child or young person.

“One strike and you are out. No bail!” Attorney General Anand Ramlogan declared as he piloted the Bail Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives yesterday.

The bill seeks to replace the “three-strikes” and “two-strikes” rule, with one strike for the denial of bail for those persons charged with committing violent crimes.

“Three strikes is for baseball; we (in the Caribbean) play cricket and in cricket, after one strike, you are out,” the Attorney General stated.

The bill would deny bail for 120 days to persons accused and charged with a violent crime.

The Attorney General said he did not accept that poverty was an excuse for the type of violent crime that existed in the country.

“This is not a case of a man stealing a hops bread.... The man who rapes a young child in her dying moments, doh come and tell me poverty is an excuse for that kind of crime.... That is a different kind of evil, sinister and ominous.”

He said the bill, among other things, would mean any person “convicted in the past ten years of any offence under the Children’s Act would get no bail when he is charged”.

“Recent events have demonstrated that there is a clear and present danger to the welfare of our children and Parliament and the law must send the strongest possible signal,” said Ramlogan.

However, he said, the Government could not do this without Opposition support. 

Ramlogan also spoke of the fact that statistics compiled by the Crime and Problem Analysis Branch of the Police Service showed many persons on bail consistently committed crimes and were granted bail repeatedly by the courts. 

Giving some examples currently before the courts, the Attorney General spoke of the case of Mr S.

“Mr S was first convicted in March 1991 for robbery with aggravation. He was convicted and sentenced. After completing his sentence, Mr S was then charged with receiving stolen goods. He got bail. While on bail, he commits a further crime—shop-breaking and larceny in May 1999. While on bail, he was also charged with factory-breaking and larceny. 

In June 2000, he is convicted of trying to obtain $86,000 by false preten­ces. He completes this sentence and then he is charged for possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, twice in December 2002 and in December 2003. He gets bail again. 

While on bail, he is again charged with possession of cocaine for the pur­pose of trafficking, twice in August 2005. He is granted bail again and while on bail, he is charged with the possession of marijuana and the possession of ammunition without a licence in November 2007.

“You know what? He gets bail again and in August 2009, he is charged for malicious wounding. He gets bail again and in September 2009, he is charged with unlawful possession and also is charged for larceny. He gets bail again. In May 2010, he is charged for the possession of cocaine again. And believe it or not, incredible as it seems, he gets bail again.

“While on bail in August 2011, the man is charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. And believe it, he gets bail again,” Ramlogan said.

Eleven different charges...and the man continues to get bail, over and over and over. He gets bail and reoffends and you give him more bail. That happens repeatedly, the Attorney General stated. 

Ramlogan said the imposition of the one-strike rule would see the number of persons being denied bail for possession of firearm increase from 255 to 472; for robbery, from 37 to 286; for larceny of a motor vehicle, from eight to 27; and for possession of a dangerous drug for trafficking, from 35 to 232.

“The new legislation would have kept an additional 217 possible gunmen off the street, an additional 249 robbers and a further 197 potential drug dealers,” the Attorney General said.

He said bandits commit further crimes while out on bail so they can hire the best possible lawyers.

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