The lawmakers of the Cayman Islands have given the Courts a very timely and useful tool.
Members of the Legislative Assembly have OK’d a bill that provides a wider range of sentencing options for people convicted of certain crimes.
The bill allows the Courts to sentence non-violent offenders to alternative methods of punishment.
Those methods could include things such as putting someone on a curfew and monitoring the offender’s movements via electronic devices.
They could also include intermittent, conditional or suspended sentences, which would allow the offender to spend all or part of his sentence in the community.
A judge could sentence an offender to stay away from certain places at certain times or putting them in incarceration or restitution centres allowing offenders to work and use their term of imprisonment to earn money to compensate victims.
While all crime should be treated seriously, not all criminals necessarily need to be a burden to society via incarceration.
Jailed offenders cost the country thousands of dollars a year and are a burden to their families and friends who have to dedicate time to visit them and supply them with items they need in prison.
Too, jailed offenders can’t work and therefore cannot help with family finances.
Under the new legislation offenders will have to go through a rigorous risk assessment process to ensure that he or she is suitable for alternative sentencing.
Attorney General Sam Bulgin has assured us all that violent offenders or those with certain anti-social tendencies won’t be unleashed on society; they’ll serve their time in prison, as they should.
The bill also allows the Courts to consider the impact of the crime on the victims, who may be called to describe the harm done or loss suffered by them.
Alternative sentencing is a win-win situation: the government can reduce its expenses and offenders can be given the opportunity to learn and lead productive lives.
It also keeps offenders from going to graduate criminal school where they learn from other criminals in prison how to conduct certain crimes.
The best thing about alternative sentencing is that families won’t be separated and can work together with the system to help the offender rehabilitate.
Now it’s up to the public to embrace the idea of alternative sentencing and help the judicial system make it work.