Most Serious Crime Cases Don’t End In Convictions

Monday 13th, January 2014 / 10:05 Published by

Before a person can be sentenced for murder, he or she has to be convicted first – and this is the critical issue all political leaders are ignoring.

Conviction rates in this country are disgracefully low, due in large part to failures in the strength of the cases that the Police Force and Prosecution put forward from the arrest side, to the investigation and case preparation side. This is what no political leader is speaking to. Before you even get the death penalty or full-life in prison, you must be found guilty first. If cases keep being thrown out or the accused is acquitted because innocent people are being charged, or because of shoddy investigative and legal work, a death or full-life sentence would not arise anyway. No conviction, no sentence.

Those of you who watch law shows on TV see an official known as an assistant district attorney (ADA) who plays an active role in investigations to ensure that the police provide the prosecution with a strong enough case if possible and lawful, to get a jury to convict the accused. Several years ago this matter was raised by the last government, requiring that each murder case be assigned such an official beginning from the actual live murder scene itself, to aid in preparing a strong case. Did this ever happen, is it happening and if so, how is it working?

The Police Crime Lab, which is not in the best of shape, has had its budget cut by the government. How can strong cases be made if the Crime Lab is not up to standard?

Another problem with cases happens with their witnesses, who are often afraid to testify, and/or are threatened or harmed prior to their scheduled or potential testimony. Several laws were enacted to address this, and a Witness Care Unit was also established to provide certain levels of assistance to witnesses. Are those laws being followed, is the Witness Care Unit still functioning and what level of success, if any, has it had?

Instead of our political leaders addressing why so many alleged murderers or alleged violent offenders are never convicted to begin with to ever receive a death or full-life prison sentence, they rather are all recommending that Constitutional rights of all Bahamians be stripped. That’s their backwards answer to crime – let the criminals win by causing every Bahamian to be robbed of certain judicial rights in our Constitution.

Address the training, resource and corruption problems behind poor/ineffective cases being brought to trial – for without these issues being improved, cases will continue to fail at high rates when they come to trial.

Sharon Turner

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