Another young man was gunned down in the country on May 27, 2014 in the early afternoon hours just off East Street. The man is reportedly 24-year-old Kenthley Milfort, who was just released from prison a week ago because he was found not guilty of a murder he had been accused of committing in 2011.
This seems to be the order of the day now in The Bahamas because almost every couple days, there is a news headline depicting another murder victim in our country. In fact many Bahamians are buying the dailies just to get a glimpse of the next murder victim.
So far this year, there have been 52 murders and we are still in the month of May. If we were to stay on this pace, we would end up with 127 murders this year which will equal our all-time high. This can’t be what Bahamians envision our beloved country to be.
But when will this carnage end? We have had government after government insisting that they have the answer to the high murder rate in The Bahamas but when the dust settles, we realize that it is only talk. Successive governments have all sung the same tune. Increased saturation patrols, a more efficient justice system, stiffer penalties and still the results are almost the same. There has been little to no improvement with regards the rate of murder since 2002. In fact we have seen a now predictable increase.
Many Bahamians have now become numbed to the images of our youth lying on the side of the road with a gunshot wound to the head and upper extremities. This is indeed an ongoing mammoth tragedy. It is evident that some Bahamians have no faith in the justice system of the country. We are in chaos and it is safe to say that our appointed and elected officials who are charged with keeping the country safe are overmatched, befuddled and sadly still not on the right track.
We are not seeing the swift justice that the attorney general talks so passionately about but rather we are seeing another kind of swift justice being implemented by these gun wielding thugs. But what can be done? Is all lost?
The commissioner of police and the attorney general in my view should be elected by the people. In fact, the commissioner should be given true autonomy so that he can execute his duties. He should be given a mandate and there should be an independent body to review the effectiveness of his policies.
The attorney general’s performance should also be reviewed and there should be an independent body overseeing this office. The issuance of nolle prosequis, the conviction rate of cases going to the Supreme Court, the timeline between persons being charged with capital offenses and the case going to trail and the number of cases tried per year should all be criterion that the independent body reviews to determine how effective the AG’s office is functioning. There must be benchmarks. We cannot continue to employ the attitude that whatever bucks up goes.
Finally, noting that guns are the weapon of choice in the commission of many crimes, the penalties for illegal gun possession should be changed to 10 years on the first count, 15 years on the second count and 30 years each time thereafter. There should also be at least four active gun courts with four judges and two on standby. In four to six weeks, these type cases should be completed.
The criminals have instituted their own culture of retribution and they are enforcing their own swift justice on our streets. We need to take our country back from these gangsters who have no intention of abiding by the law. The law must catch up because it is lagging too far behind. We need tougher penalties and the implementation of benchmarks for an elected AG and commissioner of police.
The country needs lawful swift justice.
By: Dehavilland Moss