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 Bahamas Commentary

2005-12-02 17:48:32

No Quick Fix For Crime

Author explains the connection between so-called domestic crimes, street level violence; money-laundering and the spawning of a transnational criminal underground.

Here of late no day passes when the attentive public is not treated to a diet of new information concerning the extent to which crime has become a part of the Bahamian ambience.

Day in and day out, we see God-awful pictures of young black Bahamian men in chains. They make both the parade and the front page as they shuffle towards a date with some magistrate, judge or other public figure.

Regrettably, the face that most Bahamians recognize as the face of crime in The Bahamas is that face worn by a young black Bahamian man. This is sad beyond words. This reality speaks as it does to their failure, those of their parents and those that can be attributed to neglect on the part of those who have ruled and those who might yet lead.

We are always saddened when we see what is happening to so very many young black men as more and more of them are brought forward in chains. As they shuffle -thanks to the shackles which bind them- we know that there are others in the shadows who weep for their errant children.

And for sure, we are also saddened when we learn that some of these young men in chains were reared by families that are well-off materially. This fact testifies to the correctness in the conclusion and thesis that crime is no respecter of persons in The Bahamas.

This stands to reason in a small face to face society such as The Bahamas with its multitude of tiny spaces where practically everybody is family to every body else. This alone provides a big part of the explanation as to why and how rich and poor are sometimes bound together in the coils of crime.

Compounding the matter of crime among the nation's youth is another major factor; namely the role of cell-phones, computers and other information technologies. These are the means that are now used to build some of the criminalized networks that so very often baffle the police.

As we reflect on the incidence and fear of crime in The Bahamas, we are constrained to take note of what seems a Bahamian proclivity to identify and focus most of their attention on those breaches of the law that involve lower class or so-called 'grass roots' Bahamians.

On any given day of the week, police officers in the execution of their duties routinely interrogate and sometimes lock up any number of people who live in those places that have been falsely identified as 'the inner cities'. In very many cases young men are subjected to thorough-going full-body searches.

On other occasion, some of these people are routinely charged with a litany of criminal offences. Some times the charge is vagrancy. On other occasions, people are picked up and identified as being persons who could not give the police officer a reason why they happen to be in one area or the other.

In some extreme cases, there are instances where men and women who are patently ill are harassed and some times charged. These cases are particularly egregious in light of the fact that some of these people are prime candidates for hospitalization and care.

Indeed, as we go about our business, we come across many Bahamians who look as if they had some how been beached on the shores of a strange land. Some are bedraggled others are teetering on the edge of dementia, while others day in and day out battle their own special demons.

What and hurts most is the fact that many of the people who are on the streets were once productive citizens who happen to have made that one wrong turn one too many times when they started their cavort with death.

Here the reference is to the trade in and use of cocaine and marijuana by so very many Bahamians. So whether any wishes to recognize it as fact, we make the point that it is fact that some Bahamians are still being turned on by these drugs.

And like the sweet relationship between hand and glove, so too the fit between the drugs trade and the transnational trade in illicit weapons. This formula also quite neatly explains the connection between so-called domestic crimes, street level violence; money-laundering and the spawning of a transnational criminal underground.

So while we would wish for some early resolution to this dilemma, there is no quick fix and as regards crime, the incidence of crime and its impact on places like The Bahamas, there is, practically speaking no free lunch for anyone.

Editorial from The Bahama Journal

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