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Jul 14, 2020

Are Penalties Stiff Enough for Gangster?

Legislation had been amended so that charges could be levelled against residents who are identified as being members of a gang or being the leader of a gang; the latter carries a stiffer penalty. The Crime Control and Criminal Justice Amendment Bill introduced stiffer penalties allowing the police to gather intelligence from various sources, including social media platforms. These persons are then interviewed before a Justice of the Peace and based on the information disclosed, a person can be charged for being a gang member, a gang leader or a gang sympathizer. According to the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act, these persons could be imprisoned.  But what often happens is that these individuals plead guilty to being a gangster at arraignment and they would be fined and not confined.  Here’s ComPol Chester Williams:


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“We have charged a number of these gang members under the gang legislation. I don’t want to be critical of the courts. Some of them have gone to the courts, they’ve pled guilty and they were just given a fine and sent home; that’s the prerogative of the magistrate. We wish that would not have been the case because as you rightly alluded to, being a gang member is an offense. You get convicted, you plead guilty and then you are sent back into society. It is like saying to you go continue being a gang member, when we would prefer that incarceration would be the penalty. But we don’t control what happens in the judiciary. What we need to do is continue to do investigations on them, hoping that we will be able to charge them a second time and if that happens, I am sure that the court is going to have a different view in terms of how they are going to deal with sentencing them. It is not easy to just say that you are going to charge somebody with an offense. Gavin will tell you, you have to ensure that you have the relevant evidence because if you just charge somebody for charging somebody sake, then that is tantamount to malicious prosecution and we cannot do that. So it takes a lengthy investigation process to be able to gather the relevant information against them because it’s not like some of them are openly professing to being a member of a gang. No they are not. It requires very hard work and lot of hours to be able to get the information against them.”


Under the law, a person who is a gang member or professes to be a gang member can be imprisoned for up ten years on conviction.  Any subsequent conviction for the same offense can result in a jail term for as many as twenty-five years. In the case of gang leaders, a convicted person can serve a maximum sentence of twenty-five years in the first instance; a subsequent conviction can lead to a maximum sentence of forty years.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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