High conviction rates, not harsher sentences will deter crimeFriday, September 24, 2021
The Commissioner of Police Antony Anderson highlighted at a press conference that the soft punishment given to gun offenders by the courts is a major contributor to our gun problem.
Firstly, let me say that the number of people caught with firearms pales in comparison to those who go undiscovered.
I must disagree with the learned crime-fighter, as many years of research by the US Justice Department outlined that severity of punishment has never been a factor in deterring people from becoming repeat offenders.
Around the world, if we look at the countries that administer harsh punishment, we will see that they also have an accompanying high crime rate. Also true is that countries with high conviction rates experience low crime rates.
Notwithstanding, I understand the plight of the commissioner as Jamaica may be a unique case because we have weaker laws and low conviction rates, which mean we may have twice the problem.
The main deterrent to criminal and negative behaviour is the assurance of punishment, even in the case of children. When one parent acts as the disciplinarian a child is usually on his or her best behaviour in that parent's presence; on the other hand, in the presence of a parent who is not as strict, the child will misbehave, though the possibility of punishment still exists, the child will take his or her chances, having realised that the probability of being punished is significantly less.
The commissioner should, instead, focus his air time, effort, and resources on lobbying the Government and citizens to provide the necessary tools and intelligence needed to put a dent in crime.
There are so many of our young men and women who are in possession of illegal firearms that, even if the death penalty is introduced as punishment for firearm possession, it would not cause a behavioural change because the statistics show that a paltry number of people have been prosecuted for the crime.
The crime problem will only be solved by putting data and intelligence at the forefront.
The only thing that will deter individuals from lives of crime is the feeling that they are sure to be caught. A big stick policy and draconian punishment will never solve the Jamaican crime problem.
Adrean A Gentles