Cautions law presents second chance

| 24/02/2017 | 24 Comments
Cayman News Service

Premier Alden McLaughlin in the LA

(CNS): The government has steered through a piece of legislation to help first time offenders avoid a criminal record over low-level crime such as possession of ganja or disorderly conduct. Premier Alden McLaughlin who, as the home affairs minister, brought the Cautions (Adult) Bill, 2017 to the Legislative Assembly this week, said it was not evidence of a government “going soft on crime” but a move that would reverse the trend over the last 25 years in the Cayman Islands of criminalising people over minor infractions, especially when they are young.

McLaughlin said that allowing senior police officers to offer a suspect willing to come clean a formal caution rather than going to court would cut the workload of the police, helping them focus on serious crime, and cut traffic in the overburdened courts, but more importantly it would address the problem of “far too many young people” being criminalised for the rest of their lives because of stupid things they do because they are young.

“We don’t need to throw young people into jail for every offence,” he said.

He told the LA that the introduction of a caution system would strike the right balance between deterrence and common sense and prevent so many young people “winding up with convictions because of indiscretions committed in their youth”.

The premier pointed out that this was one of several pieces of legislation that his government had brought aimed at addressing the problem of a criminalised society and to start giving Caymanians another chance before labeling them as offenders.

The main point of this latest piece of legislation is not just about reducing pressure on police and courts but to avoid so many people being convicted and having police records for minor or one-off offences. McLaughlin admitted that there was no single fix-all solution for the “range of problems in this country” but said these problems did not all come about four years ago when his government took office. He said there were deep systemic issues in society that must be dealt with and it was his government’s policy to take a different approach.

The bill was broadly supported by the opposition as well as the government benches but the premier accepted some suggestions from members to tweak the legislation in the committee stage. Ezzard Miller suggested that if government was really targeting the issue of consumption of drugs, which remains a criminal offence, and possession of small amounts of ganja with this legislation, it should really decriminalise the use of that drug and focus on the offence of supply by amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Law.

See the proceedings here starting at 18:30 and the Cautions bill in the CNS Library

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Category: Crime, Laws, Police, Politics

Comments (24)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Here we go again…. Alden pretending to be progressive. Why not just decriminalise the personal use of marijuana. Is that not the biggest reason the court system is backed up? Stop trying buy votes!

  2. Anonymous says:

    This power should not go to the police. Instead, a simple plea in the court asking for a fine and the records to be sealed for certain classes of offences. Also, this should be done retrospectively and legal aid be made available for application to the courts to remove from the criminal records any charges in the catagory.

    Retrospectivty and also, the whole bank thing needs to be actioned. We need to reduce the period and usage of credit information that after 7 years so that people can get back on their toes after a financial catastrophe instead of 20 years or more in Cayman

  3. Sharkey says:

    This new Bill is not going help free up courts or help any young person unless you are a member of the big boy club . The bill has not forgotten to mention the ATTORNEY . Then why would a caution be put on a person criminal record . Again if you need that to be removed from your record , you need the ATTORNEYS.

    There’s so much BS in the bill , I think that why it’s done is just to say my Government and I did it . I think that it is a 3rd world bill not a 20th century bill .

    This bill is not going to help fix any of the many problems that exist in the Cayman Islands, I think it might help them get worse.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Offences of violence or dishonesty should not fall within this inane liberal criminal hugging scheme.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have to say that I am impressed that while this Government is great for business which generates revenue and jobs they also pay attention to the things that help the average person. I think this Caution Law is long overdue. Lord knows we have enough of our people at Northward. If we can keep them away from there they have a much better chance.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What about that brave homeowner that (correctly) shot and killed his home invader…would he now need to politely ask a masked violent perpetrator if they had received a prior formal caution before using lethal force on what we now categorize as a “forgivable misdemeanor”? Whose right are we defending?

  7. Anonymous says:

    It’s really sad and telling that so many feel that a “first arrest” (for a serious crime that would normally carry a four year jail sentence) is a coming-of-age inevitability. It’s not. Getting arrested at ANY age is not normal! Especially on islands with so very little and select enforcement as it is. You’d have to be pretty far out of line, and for a long time, to get apprehended here for anything illegal. The risk of getting a criminal record (and/or sharing a cell with a power-rapist) is supposed to be part of the theoretical consequence that keeps the minority tempted to break laws in their lane. As we are about to find out, removing that possible consequence will only embolden those that wouldn’t normally break laws, as well as those who routinely do so without getting caught. The thrill and rush of misdemeanor crime can now be rationalized as a “no-risk bet” and is about to become the new Friday night double dare. The financial cost to Cayman (for real estate values and tourism) will far exceed cost of court room and prison expansion that will still be necessary. We should have just decriminalized weed if that’s what we wanted to do. This is far worse.

  8. MakO says:

    Why do we need to legtimize a practice that is already being carried out for the special few who are above the law. With our police in the hands of this already corrupt foreign hoard we are asking for real trouble by giving them now the legal right to do so! Vote this S#%! down

  9. Anonymous says:

    This gives abnormal, and regrettably, unmerited discretion to amateur-trained police officers in the field, some of whom don’t know which way is north (literally and figuratively). How are they supposed to divine who has priors and who does not? If they are rounding up these youts and taking them downtown for vetting by a “senior officer” (how ever that is defined we don’t know), how does this save any time or resources? Why not just decriminalize recreational use altogether and hand out revenue-generating tickets? Get caught smoking a spliff at public beach showers = $200 fine. Get caught smoking while driving = forfeit your license for a year. Much easier – everyone can understand the rules and it can be applied universally.

  10. Anonymous says:

    So once you turn a certain age you can no longer get away with a small amount of weed?! Why just young offenders? And weed plus disorderly conduct do not go hand in hand. That would be drinking and disorderly conduct!

  11. Anonymous says:

    I like that one, good move. Most of us did things when we were young that we now regret…

  12. Anonymous says:

    Good news, the number of people ending up in court for very minor things has been a problem for years. Now there is a formal option for law enforcement.

    • Diogenes says:

      Except their definition of very minor things extends to offences carrying sentences of up to 4 years, and includes assault and theft – not just Ganga. And not just “youngsters”. Read the bill.

      • Anonymous says:

        Did you know that conspiracy of importation of marijuana carries a sentence of up to 10 years? just to clarify this is just “conspiracy”, meaning all a person has to do is just joke with an scenario via text, and if the police find the message in your phone you can go to jail for up to 10 years. Now lets keep in mind that no marijuana needs to be recovered for this to stick. They consider the messages evidence enough to hit you with a conspiracy charge. WTF!?

  13. Anonymous says:

    De criminalizing criminals? Smart move to get the young Caymanian vote.

  14. Blue Iguana says:

    Have to wholeheartedly agree with Ezzard.

    If the Premier truly wants to stop so many young people from ending up behind bars for non-violent infractions relating to illegal drug use, such as smoking a spliff, then decriminalisation is what should’ve been tabled.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear Alden. All we have done in recent years is to identify criminals as criminals. There is nothing wrong with that. In the face of growing crime you are now consciously trying to say criminals are not criminals including for offenses of dishonesty and violence. Wha unnah smokin?

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