Attorney renews call for end to fingerprinting of ganja convicts


Thursday, August 14, 2014

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LEGAL advisor to Jamaica Labour Party affiliate Generation 2000 (G2K), Alando Terrelonge, has reiterated the call for an end to the fingerprinting of people who are convicted on ganja charges.

The attorney made the call Tuesday after two men, including an 18-year-old, were each fined $10,000 for smoking ganja and ordered fingerprinted. Additionally, several other men were fined $100 for possession of ganja plus an administrative cost
of $5,000.

"It cannot be that when police officers go out and arrest someone for having one spliff the magistrate fines them $100 and then turn around and charges them $5,000 as an administrative fee. It is completely unjust, it's irrational, it's illogical and it makes absolutely no
sense," Terrelonge told the Jamaica Observer.

"So what the judge is in effect doing is leaving them to a similar treatment like what happened with the Mario Dean case.
It's draconian and it is not in the spirit of rehabilitation," the lawyer added.

Terrelonge had intervened on one of the young man's behalf and begged the magistrate not to have him fingerprinted while arguing that it would affect his chances of employment and opportunities for travelling.

"You are criminalising a victimless crime," he told the magistrate before imploring her to bear in mind that the laws are being reformed in respect to ganja possession.

However, the magistrate insisted that she would not change the sentence as it would be partial to other offenders.

Furthermore, she argued that the offenders were not concerned about the consequences of the offence.

"He is obviously not seeking any employment and I am not victimising him; he is victimising himself," Resident Magistrate Georgianna Fraser said.

In addition, she told the attorney that she already had a system where first offenders are given community service and are not fingerprinted when they are held with ganja. However, she said that those who continue to flout the
law will have to suffer
the consequences.

"When you make it a habit, the mercy door closes; and when the time comes I will obey the law," RM Fraser said.

— Tanesha Mundle




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