Mon | Jun 17, 2019

Criminal lifeline - Chuck wants murder, manslaughter to be on the expungement books

Published:Thursday | May 23, 2019 | 12:09 AM
Delroy Chuck, minister of justice, makes his presentation during the Sectoral Debate in Parliament on Tuesday.

The Andrew Holness-led Cabinet will be asked to agree to amending laws to allow convicts who have abandoned criminality for an extended period of time to have their records expunged.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, speaking on Tuesday during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate, said he was looking to have the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act further amended so that more people can have their records expunged as long as it “can be shown that for extended, prolonged period of time, they have put crime behind them”.

Referencing a pastor who Chuck said he knew of, the minister told Parliament that the man had been charged with murder, convicted of manslaughter but turned his life around and has been preaching for the last 25 years.

This pastor, however, cannot get his records expunged because the act does not currently allow for it, “and that is the sort of person we’d want expunged”, Chuck stated.

Over 1,000 Jamaicans have had their criminal records expunged in recent months, the minister reported to Parliament.

A SECOND CHANCE

“This is the opportunity for Jamaicans to be given a second chance to make a positive contribution to society,” Chuck noted.

“The Ministry of Justice continues to offer these expungement services to persons who have made a sincere and successful attempt at becoming law-abiding citizens so that they are given the opportunity to start afresh without being haunted by their past mistakes,” he added.

Chuck said 1,915 expungement applications were received in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Also speaking on the vexed issue of backlog court cases choking the justice system, Chuck said there has been a significant reduction in the criminal case backlog over the last four years.

“On December 31, 2016, there was a backlog of 30,607 criminal cases in the parish courts. Mr Speaker, as at the end of fiscal year 2018-2019, 12,399 of these cases had been cleared. This represented a 40 per cent reduction in the backlog of these cases,” he revealed.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com