In Jamaica, the Government’s planned introduction of legislation to impose mandatory 30-year prison sentences for murder convicts has evoked scepticism from some members of the defence bar.
One senior defence attorney, Melrose Reid, is challenging the Administration to model El Salvador and take a frontal fight to criminals, rather than hide behind legislation.
Reid was responding to Tuesday’s announcement by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in Parliament that legislation would be brought to amend the penalty for murder.
“My thoughts on the matter, though not yet finalised, but the thinking is that we should give 30 years minimum for murder. The minister of justice has been directed to bring forward these changes immediately,” Holness said, adding that his Administration is “very serious about murders”.
Presently, under the Offences Against the Person Act, people can be sentenced to death or life imprisonment for murder. If sentenced to life imprisonment, a convict must serve a minimum 15 years before eligibility for parole. There have been no executions since February 1988.