Plans free up prison space

Bills for laws to establish a Drug Court and provide for alternative sentencing options will be sent to Cabinet in a few weeks, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin QC announced yesterday.

Mr. Bulgin was speaking at the formal opening of the Grand Court for the 2006 session.

Other new laws under consideration include the Legal Practitioners Amendment Law, a modernised Landlord and Tenants Law and an amended Police Law.

The legislation for a Drug Court and alternative sentencing will give courts wider sentencing options, Mr. Bulgin said. The result will be that some defendants who generally would be given custodial sentences will receive non-custodial sentences.

Another effect is that much needed space in the penal institutions will be freed up for the more serious offenders and those for whom custodial sentences are appropriate, he added.

Mr. Bulgin indicated he was not at liberty to say much about the review of the Police Law until it is approved by Cabinet. However, he expressed the hope that one feature would be the establishing of an independent civilian body to deal with complaints against the police.

‘This will serve to exonerate/ absolve the police from unnecessary criticisms whenever they investigate one of their members, thus ensuring greater transparency and confidence in the process,’ the Attorney General remarked.

The Legal Practitioners Amendment Bill was referred to by both Mr. Wayne Panton, president of the Caymanian Bar Association, and Charles Quin QC, who delivered remarks on behalf of Attorney Charles Jennings, president of the Cayman Law Society.

The draft of this new bill provides a mechanism for the introduction of a code of professional conduct, which Mr. Quin described as a welcome and long-overdue development.

The three attorneys, along with senior member of the bar Ramon Alberga QC, spoke by way of moving and seconding the motion for the formal opening of Grand Court.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie replied to many of their comments and delivered his report on the business of the courts last year, along with his outlook for 2006. More on his address will be published in a future issue of the Caymanian Compass.