How controlled countries control crime… and why we can't
In this 2008 file photo a crowd looks on as police remove the victim of a crime in rural Jamaica.

WHEN I speak of controlled countries I am referring to countries without a democratic framework where citizens don't have a choice in who is their ruler.

They may seem one and the same, but they are not necessarily so.

I also am referring to countries which have laws that allow for indefinite detention and where human rights is a fleeting ambition, rather than a concern of Government.

Therefore not all non-democratic countries are devoid of freedom. Monaco, for example, has a monarchy that operates like a Government and there are few instances of human rights abuses.

Saudi Arabia is another example of a monarchy that some would argue is a controlled country. However, calling it totalitarian is a stretch.

Alternatively, whether it's Cuba, China, Vietnam, or Saudi Arabia, they all have one thing in common: If they want you arrested, you're arrested. The lawyer could huff and puff like a dragon, if they want you dead, you're dead — no matter who is upset about it.

Now this is a terrible state in which to exist, but it's a really effective crime control system.

Although we had an element of this control between 1974 and 1993 with the use of the Suppression of Crime Act, we always had checks and balances with respect to State killings.

So our country has never really been controlled.

The Suppression of Crime Act did bring us into that arena and that was why, when we removed it, murders exploded by 50 per cent in a few years.

Many say this is not real control, but artificial. It is artificial in some ways because it's not the result of good policing. However, if it saved lives it was a good thing in its time.

So why is it that we can't control crime?

Well, firstly, we are very democratic and very conscious of our rights. We can never be compared to a controlled country so the comparison is not really practical.

So as an active police officer who investigates gangs, I know who runs extortion rackets in my police area. I have tried to discourage people from paying, however, I can't arrest without evidence. In Cuba I could, in Vietnam I could, as in many controlled environments.

I could give you the same example for murder, robbery, and gang activity. If I could arrest just because I know, then others would refrain from getting involved in criminal activity. But this would not be a free country by definition.

What about when I arrest a man because I know he is involved with my girlfriend but claim that I did so because he is a gangster? Get my point?

So with an aim to protect the few possible innocent from State oppression, we accept that a massive hunk of our population will live without their human rights.

They will pay money to gangsters, bury their sons, and accept their daughter's loss of choice as to who she has sex with, and when.

Crime control is the first victim of democracy and freedom. This is a fact. This is the price we pay, or really, this is the price our 'poor' pays.

But freedom is important. Paul Bogle, Sam Sharpe, and George William Gordon died for it.

So, as I said earlier, it's not reasonable to compare us to Communist states or countries that have dictators.

A more comparable environment is 1980s Colombia during the Escobar wars. They are and were a democracy. They became a State heavily influenced by narcotic traffickers. They were losing control, rather like we were in the seventies, but our stimulation was more political than criminal.

Like us, they passed laws to fight it. Like us, they joined with the United States to assist. Unlike us, they won.

Why? Because they maintained the laws and policies till they could do without them. We cut ours too early.

For us to be as successful as Colombia was in wrestling the country from criminal control, we would have had to have kept the Suppression of Crime Act for another two decades, at least.

What can we do at this point?

Well, in the short term, remove the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms from the constitution and reintroduce indefinite detention. That would work with 10,000 more in custody, but I am not sure it would be somewhere I would want to live.

You see, you and I are not devoid of our human rights due to gangs. Our life may be pretty lousy because we know fear but this is not the same as our brothers in western Kingston. So we are unwilling to live in a country where our rights may be threatened, but are willing to accept the loss of those rights for the less fortunate. Lawd, we selfish!

I hope I have answered the question. Let me close with one. If we were able to give up our rights to be tried, once remanded, in exchange for a crime rate pre-1974, would we? I think I would.

Jason McKay
Jason McKay

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