THE 50 prisoners selected for the presidental pardon will be subject to a stringent screening process by the Commissioner of Prisons and names will be presented to the Advisory Committee on the Power of Pardon for their recommendation to President George Maxwell Richards, the Ministry of Justice has stated in a press release.
Last Thursday, Justice Minister Herbert Volney announced that in commemoration of the country's 50th anniversary of independence, government is to recommend to Richards that he pardons 50 people, thereby securing their early release.
The Justice Ministry is presently collaborating with the Commissioner of Prisons for the effective and proper handling of this delicate initiative, the press release added. Priority focus will be on the protection of society.
There has never been a pardoning of so many persons all at once. The provison for pardoning persons exists in the Constitution. The Mercy Committee receives applications and considers the merits and justification of the applications and makes a recommendation to the President who has the power to pardon anyone who commits and is convicted of a crime.
The Justice Ministry has identified ten categories of inmates who may be given consideration for early release. These include:
– First-time offenders who conduct, behaviour and discipline are exemplary.
– Persons who have committed non-violent offences and do not display violent propensities.
– Prisoners who are not likely to re-offend or pose any risk to society.
– Prisoners who have committed minor offences and are currently serving sentences of two to four years in prison.
– Prisoners who are chronically ill.
– Prisoners who are near their remission date with a remainder of at least three months or who have completed two thirds of their sentence.
– Prisoners who have participated successfully in the rehabilitation programmes offered.
– Old and/or infirm prisoners.
– Prisoners who have existing family or other support structures available upon release.
– Prisoners who, if released, would not cause a public outcry.
As stated in the press release, the presidential pardon will afford these 50 inmates to reintegrate into society earlier than expected and help alleviate overcrowding issues being experienced in the prisons.