Last update: 01-Aug-2014 1:38 am
Friday, August 01, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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There’s jail space for repeaters—AG
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan says there is an eight-acre facility at Santa Rosa to keep all repeat offenders who will be denied bail for four months if the Bail Amendment Bill is approved. He was speaking during yesterday’s presentation of the bill for debate in the Senate, Tower D, Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain. It requires the votes of at least four Independent senators. It was passed with the required threefifths majority vote in the House of Representatives last Friday.
Ramlogan, who spoke for an hour, said the crime rate would escalate if nothing was done now to address it and the legislation was intended to put repeat offenders in prison for at least four months. “The intention of this measure is to remove the bandits, rapists, arsonists from the streets and put them behind bars,” he said.
He said during a visit last Sunday to the Eastern Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility, Santa Rosa, Arima, he saw about 100 men on benches watching a movie, the cells were spacious and inmates were able to exercise and they planted barbadine and other fruit trees in the backyard. Ramlogan said the capacity was for over 400 prisoners and there were only 136 there. He also spoke about additional capacity at an adjacent compound which housed a warehouse.
“The covered area of that (warehouse) is four acres and the integrity of the structure was so built to accommodate a top floor. You have eight acres of covered space,” he added. “What is the message from this Government to the bandits? We are going to make space in jail, behave or you will feel the full brunt of the law. Stop terrorising people,” the minister added.
He listed several other measures which were intended to work with the legislation, including the DNA Bill, the Electronic Monitoring Bill, Summary Offences (Amendment) Bill, the Death Penalty Bill, Jury and Witness Tampering Bill, legislation to codify identification parades and new evidence legislation. He also dismissed claims that the legislation would take away judicial discretion.
“We press pause on that for 120 days because you can’t apply for bail but we are not taking it away,” he said, on the four months an accused can apply for bail if the prosecution had not started its case. He produced the list of convictions of an unidentified prisoner, which he said filled several pages, noting that several offences were committed while the prisoner was on bail. The minister also told the Senate the majority of prisoners were repeat offenders.