Scores in western Jamaica turn out for expungement fair

Scores in western Jamaica turn out for expungement fair

Thursday, February 27, 2020

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SCORES of citizens from across western Jamaica descended on Alice Eldemire Drive in Bogue, St James, last Friday to participate in the Legal Aid Council's (LAC) expungement fair.

The event provided the opportunity for people to apply to have minor offences expunged from their record.

Expungement is having a conviction removed from one's criminal/police record after a specific period of time has elapsed and after certain requirements have been met.

Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte, who partnered with the LAC for the staging of the event, told JIS News that the objective is to “provide a second chance” for young people across the parish.

“I meet so many young persons who have told me about the mistakes they have made in their early lives, not having the benefit of good parental supervision, coming under bad company and their own waywardness, and doing things that they have come to truly regret.

“Every time they apply for a job, the convictions show up. Also, for some of them, their families have gone abroad and are filing for them and they are not able to complete the process,” she added, noting that many of these individuals have turned their lives around.

The attorney general said that expungement is “not about persons who disregarded the lives and safety of others. This is about people who are putting their lives on a new path, and many are intimidated to access the formal justice sector. So, part of the policy of the Government is to bring justice to the people — and we have done so with [LAC's] mobile offices”.

She indicated that in order for individuals to qualify for expungement, there are two essential conditions that need to be satisfied.

Firstly, the offence for which the person is convicted must attract a non-custodial sentence or imprisonment not exceeding five years, and secondly, the person must not have had any other convictions during the rehabilitation period.

The attorney general, who is also Member of Parliament for St James West Central, is encouraging other representatives across the island to book the services of the LAC's mobile units in order to take legal services to their constituents.

For his part, LAC Executive Director Hugh Faulkner told JIS News that some offences that can be expunged include assault occasioning bodily harm, unlawful wounding, malicious destruction of property, simple larceny, and housebreaking.

Faulkner commended residents who turned out for the fair, noting that having their offences expunged can open up a world of opportunities.

People who wish to apply for expungement are advised to visit the Ministry of Justice's website at https://moj.gov.jm/ for details.


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