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AG: Pay bail at the jail

CLINT CHAN TACK Friday, February 17 2017

ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi yesterday hinted that bail payments may soon be made at this country’s prisons.

He dropped the hint when he announced Cabinet’s approval of several pieces of legislation, at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s.

He announced that the Access to Bail Amendment Act 2017; the Indictable Offences Pre-Trial Procedure Bill 2017; the Criminal Procedure (Plea Discussion and Plea Agreement) Bill 2017 and the International Financial Organisation Bill 2017.

Al-Rawi said there are currently 2,242 odd persons in Remand and 1,000 of them are in for non-bailable offences, “specifically for the allegation of murder” He explained that of the 1,242 odd persons who are in the Remand Yard, “nearly half of them have been granted bail by the courts but simply could not come out of detention because they could not access bail.”

The AG stated, “We undertook to look at this very seriously and the Cabinet has approved today an access to bail improvement.”

Al-Rawi explained the information that the state and condition of this country’s prisons, “can reduce your chances of coming out a better person and therefore the recidivism aspect is a very real one.”

He said in ensuring that the burden is eased with respect to the prison population and to equally facilitate what has been granted by a court, which is someone’s liberty pending their trial, “we have brought forward a bill which proposes that you can actually use certified cheque and cash, and that can be paid into the system.”

Al-Rawi elaborated that the definition of system meant, “at court and at the prisons itself, on every day except for Sunday and a public holiday. He said this would facilitate, “the movement out of the Remand Yard, for people who have been granted bail by the courts.”

Al-Rawi said this legislation runs alongside the operationalisation of the electronic monitoring system for persons out on parole, “as well the discussion that is being had with the Judiciary on estimating persons who have passed maximum sentence and ought to be considered for conditional release.” The AG disclosed there is an allegation that there is, “almost an underground element to the manner in which bail is procured.” He said there is the phenomenon of “professional bailors” because the Magistracy has sought to opt to one provision of bail only, which is the provision of a deed to a property.
Al-Rawi said, “Most people who find themselves incarcerated, are in there because they simply just don’t own property. They don’t have access to deeds.”

Asked whether this could lead to criminal financiers being able to bail out their friends, Al-Rawi replied, “If there is suspicion and objection to bail, then there is a process to deal with that, where the State can object to bail.” Reminding reporters that 95 percent of prosecutions are handled by the police and five percent by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Al-Rawi said his ministry has been working with Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams in doing a snapshot as to how the cases handled by the police are managed.



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