Jamaican authors launch books together at Books & Books

Defence lawyer extraordinaire Howard Hamilton and veteran correctional officer Adam McIntrye visit Books & Books, Camana Bay on Friday, February 15, from 7 to 8.30pm for the joint launch of their books Born to Defend and Understanding the Criminal. Together, they give readers a behind-the-scenes tour of the court system and an inside look into the minds of the criminals themselves. 

This free event will include a special introduction from guest speakers Ramon Alberga Q.C. and Roy Bodden followed by an author presentation, group discussion and book signing.

Born to Defend 

Born to Defend provides both lawyers and non-lawyers a fascinating and informative guide on practical, strategic and philosophical matters arising from the court system. Pulling from decades of experience as a defence lawyer, Hamilton presents his perspective on some of the Caribbean’s most infamous criminal law cases, including controversial murder trials from Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. 

Hamilton brings technical legal issues vividly to light, and, going beyond the facts, he offers insight into the human side of the criminal trial process. Hamilton also discusses the factors that propelled him towards the Bar and pays tribute to his mentor, the late Ian Ramsay.
“My inspiration was my mentor Mr. Ian Mcdonald Ramsay O.J. Q.C. (Father of Her Ladyship Margaret Ramsay-Hale), and in my view, the finest legal mind to come out of Jamaica. It had been his intention to write also, but unfortunately he passed away without doing so and so I took up the mantle,” he says. 

“My objective is to reflect on some of the more intriguing cases I had to grapple with over fifty years at the Bar, while at the same time giving tips to prospective young advocates and sharing some of the lighter moments of the Courtroom. I think Professor Vasciannie in his Prologue hits the nail on the head when he says, lamentably, that Lawyers are notorious for not writing and one can only hope that this may help to break us out of that mould.” 


Understanding the Criminal 

The call to understand the criminal is a compelling imperative that demands our most unwavering attention, according to a press release from Books & Books. Technology and globalisation have contracted the world, placing us in a common village where we are vulnerable to the criminal’s ruthless grasp. Although we know why we sent the offender to prison, we are oblivious of the effect of the prison on him after he has been duly punished and rehabilitated. Our dilemma is this: the criminal has been arrested, convicted, punished and misunderstood. 

McIntyre shares the unvarnished truth about the way criminals think of mainstream society. He offers a guided tour around the criminal’s mind, having not only served as a prison officer, teacher and counsellor for almost twenty years, but, as a result of a fortuitous mishap, also a prisoner. In Understanding the Criminal, the felon is given an unfettered forum to reason with us, to present the arguments of his case to us—a jury of his peers. Alarmingly, the “trail” at times will uncover evidence proving that we ourselves were unwitting accomplices in his crimes. 

“After working in four high schools, and having worked at Northward Prison with offenders as an officer, teacher and education coordinator for over two decades, I concluded that there was an almost unbridgeable gap of misunderstanding and distrust between mainstream society and offenders that was compromising rehabilitation efforts and, unwittingly, allowing for increase crime,” explains the author. 

“In addition, my own “fortuitous mishap” with the criminal justice system, created an awareness and a deeper understanding of the way offenders view law enforcement officials, and why they and their families are hesitant to cooperate with the police in solving crime. I wanted to share both sides of the story, to explore the nature and consequences of imprisonment, and I think I was singularly suited to do so.” 

As a child, he says, he was encouraged to read a lot by his mother and reading introduced him to some powerful ideas that have changed his life. 

“I used to write poems also. Writing immortalizes your ideas and allows future generations to converse with you-long after you are gone. 

“Don’t be afraid to confront, record and share your ideas. To be a good writer, one has to be intellectually curious and self-critical. [I advise youngsters to] talk to established writers.” 

The author’s next book will deal with the role of women in the life of offenders, he reveals. 

“Like any party-it is no fun without women; it is time we ‘invited’ women to the party in our efforts to address crime.” 


The free event takes place at Books & Books, Camana Bay on Friday, February 15, from 7 to 8.30pm. 

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