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Accused Murders On Bail Unknown

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The country’s attorney general admitted yesterday that she does not know how many people are on bail for murder.

Allyson Maynard-Gibson, who appeared on JCN’s “Jones & Company” show with host Wendall Jones said she could not provide accurate numbers despite being in office for over a month.

“Unfortunately, no one knows the numbers,” she said.

“I ask the question and can’t get an answer and that’s an indication of how the system is right now. The data is being compiled right now and hopefully I should know very soon.

The attorney general could also not comment on how many backlogged cases are in the system.

“That figure I’m hoping will be on my desk in short order,” Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said.

“I have set a goal but the reality is that there will be a go forward and if we are able to successfully try these matters within a year then there won’t be an issue of bail. It just so happens that many of these criminals are also repeat offenders so they’re in custody on a new offence and then they are incarcerated and still have to be tried for older offences. In 2006, I found a matter that was in the system for over 10 years.”

Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said attorney generals in the past have promised an audit of cases but none have delivered on that promise including former Attorney Generals, John Delaney and Michael Barnett.

“I can promise the Bahamian people that an audit is being done and, we will as quickly as we can, provide numbers very soon as to how many cases are in the system,” she said.

Once that number is ascertained however, the attorney general said more personnel will have to be hired, which has also contributed to problems being experienced within the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

“I believe that we need more lawyers,” Mrs. Maynard-Gibson told Mr. Jones.

“However having come from the private sector, I realise that if the system is broken, you must fix the system first and not then add additional lawyers. A part of swift justice is fixing the system and we will do regular reporting with the public. If we do regular reporting then the public will be inclined to be more patient with us. We do have the ability to engage more personnel in this budget.”

She added that under the Christie administration, prosecutors will not prosecute cases alone but in teams.

“When they go down to court, there will not be one lawyer; there will be a team of lawyers,” Mrs. Maynard-Gibson explained.

“We have to be prudent on behalf of the people. We are putting in place a system to fix this system. We can’t just put additional human resources in if the system is not fixed. This is an endemic problem that has been going on for decades. We are aggressively working on solving the crime problem now and I can assure the public that we will do all that we can; I will do all that I can, even if it requires working on Sunday.”

The attorney general further explained that the public can not blame the judiciary for the “loopholes” in the system.

“Judges sit ready willing and able to hear cases every day of the week,” she said.

“I want the public to understand very clearly you cannot blame a judge if the case doesn’t come off. If you set a case before a judge and the witness is not there, you cannot blame the judge for that. If a trial is scheduled and a notice is filed to bring additional evidence, you can’t blame the judge for that. You have to blame the people who are involved in administration and this is the whole point of swift justice. If you are effectively managing your cases, you know what cases are set down for 90 days and you know what witnesses you need ahead of time.”

Mrs. Maynard-Gibson, who served as attorney general under the first Christie administration, said it would also be unfair to blame public servants for the state of the criminal justice system.

“I’m always careful about blaming our civil servants,” she said.

“I want to blame the previous administration. Swift justice was in effect and it was working but for petty political reasons and because it was labeled a PLP project, it was cancelled. Could you imagine if for that five-year period, cases actually were coming up as planned for trial? Do you know the strong message that would have sent to criminals: you would be swiftly caught, prosecuted and punished.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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