Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite has dismissed suggestions that the Freundel Stuart administration intends to release prisoners to coincide with the nation’s 50th Independence anniversary celebrations.
Yet, speaking to journalists yesterday ahead before delivering an address at a Tower of Power Ministries 20th anniversary service at Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Brathwaite appeared open to the idea.
The Attorney General insisted that Government had never discussed freeing convicts who had not served their full terms and he dismissed the suggestion as mere media speculation based on a public recommendation by Government Senator David Durant.
“As you know, as Minister of Home Affairs prisons fall under my portfolio, so I can tell you we had no such discussions at all,” Brathwaite said.
“I don’t know where this speculation came from about the release of prisoners as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations. In fact we’ve had no such discussions whatsoever.
“I did read an article where Senator David Durant was alleged to have echoed such sentiments. I understand David’s position as a man of the cloth and as a man of God, but it is certainly not an issue that Government has discussed at all.”
The Minister of Home Affairs also broached the issue in his speech to the congregation, recalling Durant’s suggestion that Government considers freeing 50 prisoners as part of the 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations.
He made reference to the public’s reaction to the speculation, and repeated that Government had never discussed it.
However, Brathwaite appeared to suggest that he would support such a move. “I’ve heard all sort of comments about what madness is this etcetera . . . . But upon reflection, why shouldn’t we contemplate it? We are supposed to be a forgiving society, we’re supposed to be about second chances, but we are [non-supportive] in terms of offering individuals second chances until it is our brother or sister, or cousin. And then you write me and you call me, and you beg me to use my offices to help you.
“But if it is someone who you don’t know, they’re not supposed to have a second chance,” he stressed.
The minister suggested to the congregation while there were more churches, it did not necessarily translate into a more Christian society.
“Something like forgiveness seems to have disappeared from our landscape,” Brathwaite complained.