Alternative Sentencing Law in effect as of Monday in Cayman

Nearly five years in the making, the Cayman Islands Alternative Sentencing Law will partially take effect on Monday, 2 May, according to an order signed in Cabinet earlier this month.

However, the full measure of the law, which is intended to give local judges options other than prison when sentencing convicted offenders, will not take effect in May. Sections of the law that deal with the establishment of restitution, centres where restitution can be made to crime victims and conditional sentences will not be enacted.

Restitution centres are proposed in the law as areas where criminal offenders can go to make restitution – whether repayment or otherwise – to victims of their criminal acts. The government did not indicate when the rest of the law might take effect.

The sections of the Alternative Sentencing Law that implement curfew sentences and exclusion orders for convicts, as well as suspended sentence orders and probationary sentences will take effect on 2 May.

According to the law, which was passed in 2006 and revised in 2008, curfew sentences can be imposed instead of, or in addition to, other sentences by a court.

Those curfew orders can be made flexible, but generally call for the monitoring of the convicted offender in a specific place during the period of their curfew sentence. Curfew sentences can also include provision for electronic monitoring of the offender.

Right now, electronic monitors are used to monitor suspected criminals prior to sentencing by order of the police, prisons or a court, typically in bail situations.

Failure to follow curfew orders imposed by a court can result in fines and further terms of imprisonment against the offender.

The law will also allow what are known as “exclusion orders” to be made as part of a convicted offender’s sentence. Those would prevent the convicted person from entering certain areas for a period of up to two years. Again, if the order is violated the offender can be fined or sent back to prison. Both curfews and exclusion orders are required to be monitored by a person appointed to do so, according to the law.

Suspended sentence

The Alternative Sentencing Law also grants the courts the ability to impose suspended sentence orders for convictions that carry a suspended sentence of more than six months for a single offence.

That order will specify the area in which the convict will live, and instructs that individual to keep in touch with a probation officer at various times. The suspended sentence supervisory order can last for as long as the sentence given by the court.

The law also lets the court make probation orders in lieu of, or in addition to, other sentencing.

Probation orders can last between one and three years and require the probationer to be assigned to an officer with whom they will check in from time to time as scheduled by the court. Additional provisions can be imposed on the order to ensure the “good conduct” of the offender.

The orders can also require the offender to participate – or refrain from participating in – certain activities. A probation order can also require the payment of damages as compensation to the victim of crime.