Letters to the Editor

Get national consensus and bipartisan support to fight the monster

Tuesday, October 02, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

Here we go again on crime. Hand-wringing, protests, demonstrations, "this has to stop". We have been doing this for 40 years. It was current Minister of National Security Peter Bunting who reminded us some time ago that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Yet that seems exactly what he is doing.

Another crime plan and more reliance on policing to prevent crime. Yet the situation gets worse. The nation cries out for a solution.Yet when an effective solution to prevent crime is actually proposed, everyone - the media, the politicians, the attorneys the human rights advocates - all head for the hills crying about "human rights", except the "human rights" of the deceased.

There has been much talk in our 50th year of Independence that we want to abandon The Queen and the Privy Council, severing our final colonial ties; yet the mental slavery Bob Marley sang about still keeps us prisoners. We have taken our precedents on human rights from Britain, mother of the Magna Carta, and from the USA, father of the Bill of Rights. Yet when the IRA threatened British democracy (including killing an important member of the royal family and bombing the Conservative government's annual conference), Britain did not hesitate to impose preventative detention in Northern Ireland.

When terrorists killed over 3,000 on September 11, 2001 the USA did not hesitate to round up suspects and detain them at Guantanamo Bay.

President Barack Obama, after having vowed to close the facility, has kept it open. There have been no subsequent attacks on US soil. There are times when saving democracy and civilised life requires drastic measures - thinking outside the colonialist box. Jamaica refuses to do this. Recently I was able to walk the streets of Belfast late at night without fear - something I couldn't do in urban Jamaica.

The Cubans have done an excellent job containing the spread of AIDS, for which there is not yet a cure. They quarantine sufferers in excellent, humane conditions with good food and medical care. But they can't come out to infect the rest of the population. Jamaica has suffered the epidemic of violent crime for four decades, yet we still can't accept the fact that while police may be effective in solving crime they have only very limited capacity to prevent it.

Scrapping the jury system, adopting New York's Rudy Giuliani's zero-tolerance, "broken windows" approach to petty crime are obvious approaches. Taking well-known criminals out of circulation on "reasonable suspicion", for four to five years, and rehabilitating them in a Cuban-style facility without access to cellphones and media, and subject to a review panel of Government, Opposition, church and police reprepresentatives - chaired by a retired judge with veto powers to prevent abuse - is the only way Jamaica is going to reduce and prevent crime.

This will require national consensus and bipartisan support for constitutional amendments. Most of all, it will require PM Simpson Miller to ask all those naysaying PNP attorneys around her to chill and give Jamaica a break. Otherwise, the future is dark.

Errol WA Townshend

Ontario, Canada






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