Justice Ministry Seeking to Improve Plea Bargaining Incentives

Justice Minister, Delroy Chuck, says the government will be seeking to provide further incentives for criminals who plead guilty under the plea-bargaining arrangement.

Minister Chuck says the government will be looking to amend the Parole and Criminal Records Acts.

He says the amendments will allow persons who’ve shown remorse for crimes committed to be made eligible for early parole.

Minister Chuck says persons who go to prison should be allowed to serve part of their sentences in the community.

This he says based on certain conditions, to include participating in the rehabilitation programmes, maintaining a good relationship with their families and being well behaved.

The Minister says he’s also looking at having these persons be eligible to eventually have their criminal records expunged.

Mr. Chuck says it’s hoped that the move will result in these persons being examples to their communities, as they’ll have to live a crime-free life.

This, in order to complete parole and be eligible for record expungement in 15 to 20 years.

The Minister says integrating these incentives and attractions into the plea-bargaining process is critical to achieving the target of having at least 50-percent of accused persons submit guilty pleas.

He says this would result in a significant reduction in the backlog of cases.

The Minister was speaking in an interview on the Jamaica Information Service’s Issues & Answers programme.

In mid-May, President of the Jamaica Bar Association, Jacqueline Cummings Gordon had developed a sentence reduction day during a meeting of the Chief Justice’s Criminal Case Management Steering Committee.

She says the project was aimed at reducing the backlog in the courts.

Only ten persons had taken up the offer.