House approves crime expungement bill

House approves crime expungement bill

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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THE House of Representatives yesterday approved amendments to the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act, reducing the period for people convicted of misdemeanours to have their conviction expunged from the criminal records.

Closing the debate, Minister of National Security Peter Bunting, who piloted the Bill in the House, pointed out that it will reduce the rehabilitation period prescribed in the main Act of 1988, and provide for the automatic expungement of minor ganja-related offences.

Bunting said discussions have already started with the justice minister to have included in the regulations any application for a police certificate to be deemed as an application for expungement, to reduce the administrative bureaucracy.

He also pointed out that the amendments will also allow for the expungement of convictions involving teenagers, 16 and under, who have "consensual" sexual intercourse.

He said that a new Bill is being drafted to allow citizens to possess small quantities of ganja and for religious groups to use the drug.

Bunting said that there was no doubt that the vast majority of Jamaicans who will benefit from the new provisions are those who were convicted for ganja-related offences.

The Senate passed the Bill on July 3, when it was piloted by Minister of Justice Senator Mark Golding, under whose ministry the Act falls.

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