Call for criminal justice reform

Caribbean countries should look to get rid of minor offences, find alternatives to cash bail and end pre-trial delays while also imagining a future with less prison capacity.

The re-imagining of the criminal justice system came from Dr Janeille Matthews, a Harvard Law School and The London School of Economic and political science graduate and law lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus who was taking part in last week’s Canada-funded IMPACT Justice two-day regional Symposium on Prison Reform hosted at the St Kitts Marriott Resort, Frigate Bay.

She delivered a paper on Caribbean Prisons: An overview of Contemporary Issues that linked the inhumane colonial past with the treatment of inmates centuries later.

“How can we use technology in a responsible way to bring about our vision, and not in a way that simply helps us to carry out the colonial agenda more effectively? We decriminalise ganja in many places; can we not also decriminalise some of our small charges and minor offences. . . What is it in our wildest criminal justice imagination that would actually bring about more secure societies? We have to remember we are dealing with human beings and they are more than the worst things they have ever done,” she said. (AC)

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