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We should look at widening the scope of sentencing

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Tue, Feb 14. 2012

Editor: Alternate sentencing is a good way of dealing with crime and its punishment. It is my personal view that different sentencing should be given for various crimes, rather than a cash fine or jail term.{{more}}

Some of the alternate sentencing should be community service without pay for a considerable time, depending on the crime. Another alternate sentence can be seizing of assets in the case of someone convicted of robbery. Those assets valued at the amount of goods stolen or robbed should be sold and given to the victim. It may mean that the person could lose his/her house or vehicle. Having said that, we know this can lead to another problem where the convicted person could commit suicide, commit murder or even vandalize the asset. Therefore, immediate seizure should be taken. When the asset is seized and sold, the remaining money from the sold item/s should be given to the convicted person.

There many cases where the persons who have committed crimes of robbery and theft hardly own anything; thus such persons ought to be given hard labour which involves community services and the money given to the victims. There would be cases where a prison sentence is necessary. I am not ruling out prison sentences, but rather a widening of the scope of sentencing.

Stiffer penalties should be given to persons who commit sexual offences and murders. We know that capital punishment is still on the books here in SVG, however, it is seldom administered. Sadly but true, many alleged murderers have been acquitted, most of the times for lack of evidence. It therefore gives rise to revenge by the relatives and friends of the victims. It is of importance that proper investigation be done, for in doing so, it will minimize the idea of revenge. The relatives of the victims many times are left wondering about who did the act and are left feeling as though justice was not done.

Of course there is more that can be added to alternate sentencing, but suffice it to say, the perpetrators must be dealt with firmly, so that they would realize the error of their ways.

Meanwhile, persons who have committed violent acts should be made to compensate the surviving children and dependants of the victims. They should be made to take care of the medical expenses and, in cases of death, the funeral expenses and compensation for the surviving children and dependants. This can be easily done by seizing the assets of the persons and, in some cases, of the families of the perpetrators, if the convicted person is not in a position to pay compensation. After all, we know that money can not buy back life, but it can ease the financial suffering of the surviving person and their children.

Thank you and I recommend that discussions be conducted on alternate sentencing, and laws be enacted to give the magistrate and judges the opportunity to give alternate sentencing.

Kennard King

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