Columns

The unacceptable nature and level of crime

Anthony Gomes

Wednesday, October 17, 2012    

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IN an attempt to reduce the number of fatalities caused by road accidents,

seat belts were introduced and have been beneficial in saving lives. It is now time to go one step further for all vehicle operators to wear bullet-proof vests, available in bright colours with the national proverb back and front, "Jamaica - No problem!" (tongue in cheek!) - particularly after dark. The level and nature of crime is still, by any standard, unacceptably high.

The police are obviously having a very difficult time trying to cope with the number of homicidal maniacs who rape and kill men, women and children of both sexes. They are overwhelmed by the case overload of the justice system and constrained by the categories of capital or non-capital homicides that preclude sentencing in a manner that would permit the punishment to fit the "worst of the worst" crimes, according to the decrees of the UK Privy Council.

The frequent tragic loss of life in the ranks of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), together with the Privy Council's restrictions on management of justice dispensation, is too painful for citizens to accept. Meanwhile, there is the highly credible and disciplined Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) without an external security threat to deal with, and whose existence is at a considerable cost to the country. It is high time that they be brought into a support role, not on a war footing, but in "aid of the civil power", the JCF, which is under severe pressure.

An area that urgently needs to be addressed is the free movement of criminals around the countryside, from parish to parish, during the hours of darkness. Checkpoints should be established on roadways to discourage and prevent such sinister individuals from moving freely throughout the land to carry out their mission of death. This is a task where the JDF could assist. This is a recommendation, not from theory, but from experience.

Rudy Giuliani, when mayor of New York, was submerged in a hotbed of crime accompanied by strident calls from the citizens for strong action to redress the terrifying onslaught. He initiated a system of checking minor offences as he believed, for example, the car with only one headlight is likely being driven by the sort of person who might be involved in the crime wave. Surprisingly, he gained an outstanding and unexpected success later to be followed by his inspired management of the deadly 9/11 terrorist attack on New York City.

Checking car papers by the police is essential. While this is being orchestrated at JCF checkpoints, a request by the police to: "Please put your foot on the brake pedal and turn on the headlights while putting on the indicator switch" should not be too onerous for the driver who need not leave his seat. The results would be surprising with the number of malfunctioning features revealed, that should be warned or ticketed by the police.

The increase of violent rapes on women and children has been another horrendous wake-up call to apply the maximum punishment under the law, as enshrined in the Constitution. To those who label the national outburst of rage and revulsion as emotional and alarmist, we say thank God there is still some semblance of human emotion and sense of urgency left in the society that has become numb, and in some instances comatose, due to the overpowering volume of violent deaths and barbaric practices. Those who are involved in the commission of such crimes are totally unfit to live in a civil society and have forfeited their right to exist.

There are those people who are conscientious objectors, a term associated with those who declined to defend their country in times of distress on the basis of a moral objection, but on many occasions were prone to a lack of intestinal fortitude also known as cowardice, in the face of extreme danger. Hence the term has always been somewhat tainted by its use in times of national emergency.

Recently Jamaicans, including some churches, have again spoken out loudly and clearly, that they expect the law to be enforced even to the extreme penalty. Judges do not convict murderers; they apply the appropriate sentence commensurate with the nature of the crime and within the legal framework as stipulated by the decisions handed down from the UK Privy Council. With DNA technology now available, there is an infinitesimal chance of erroneous conviction.

Land Army

Let us consider another matter that is just as important: self-sufficency in food. This could be achieved by creating a Land Army similar to that operated in Britain from 1939 to 1950 or thereabouts. It consisted mainly of women who worked on the various farms around the countryside producing vegetables and other food crops to feed the war effort. It employed a very large number of people who, in their green uniforms, were dropped off at 8.00 am by army vehicles each day at the designated farms where they worked, with an hour for lunch, until approximately 5.00 pm, when they were collected and driven back to the agricultural camps where they were fed and housed. With modification, the scheme could possibly work in Jamaica on a parish by parish basis, employing a significant number of people for a medium wage, to produce the much-needed staples for the nation, thereby reducing imports. Minister Roger Clark should give it a thought.

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