House debates plea bargain Bills this afternoon

News post September 16, 2015

Minister of Justice Senator Mark Golding

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Two Bills, offering plea bargaining to accuse persons willing to admit guilt and avoid lengthy trials, are to be debated in the House of Representatives this afternoon.

The Bills short titled “The Criminal Justice (Administration) (Amendment) Act, 2015” and “The Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Act, 2015” are aimed at reducing the overwhelming backlog of cases affecting the court system.

Minister of Justice, Senator Mark Golding, who had piloted the Bills through the Senate earlier this year, says that they are among a number of initiatives being introduced to increase the rate of completion of criminal cases, including Gun Court matters.

According to him, the leadership of the security forces has consistently indicated a need to put a working plea bargaining system in place, to tackle Jamaica’s problem of organised crime. He explained that the existing plea bargaining legislation is considered to be unwieldy, and has failed to have an impact.

“The Criminal Justice Administration (Amendment) Bill and the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill are companion pieces of legislation that will empower judges to impose sentencing discounts for guilty pleas, including where the law imposes a mandatory minimum sentence (as in the case of most firearm offences, non-capital murder, rape and various other sexual offences),” he said.

A working group was appointed in 2013 to study and come up with practical proposals that will allow the effective functioning of a plea bargaining system in the Jamaican context.

Balford Henry


Published By: The Observer

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