Categorized | National News

Bail System Abused

Loopholes in the country’s judiciary have made way for a massive abuse of the bail system, according to Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson, who said lawyers and defendants have been able to fly under the radar and go scot-free, due to a system that is plagued with poor record-keeping and file management.

Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said the government is now working feverishly to correct this situation.

“I have discovered that if ‘Lawyer A’ is going to get bail for ‘Mr. X,’ he would go down to the bail office and a new file is opened,” she explained. “So then ‘Lawyer A’ goes to ‘Judge One,’ but the judge turns down the application and bail is denied.”

“But four weeks later, or eight weeks later, the lawyer goes back to the bail office and another file is opened, not the same file, another file is opened. ‘Lawyer A’ then goes to ‘Judge Two’ and applies for bail and he grants it. Because ‘Judge Two’ has a new file and doesn’t know that ‘Judge One’ turned down bail eight weeks ago. Clearly, that is not an ideal system.”

While opening debate on the 2012/2013 budget debate in the Senate Monday afternoon, Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said for too long this has been The Bahamas’ reality and announced that the bail system will get a massive makeover.

The attorney general added that while exact figures are still not available, projections show that more than 400 people accused of serious crimes have been released on bail since 2002.

“We have asked that, so far as the interest of justice allows, that all relevant agencies keep one file on the same accused for the same matter,” she said. “And that file is to travel with the accused in the same matter.”

Mrs. Maynard-Gibson added that the bail issue also directly affects the victims of crime and their families who are often left out of the loop and are not told that the person accused in their particular matter has been let out of jail.

She said contrary to popular belief, victims have the right to know about every aspect of their cases. She said with the proposed changes, this will be a reality.

“We are not going to [have] a situation where you are in the food store with your wife and kids and the victim of a crime walks up to you and gives you a hail,” she added. “The public has a right to know when people will be released on bail.”

The attorney general also lamented the fact that cases move through the system too slowly, with some on the books for years before they even reach the courtroom.

With bail numbers still uncertain the attorney general said a better record keeping system is also on the way.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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