Prime Minister Freundel Stuart says his Government is currently relooking the Criminal Records of Rehabilitation Offenders legislation with a view accommodating more requests from Barbadians who have had a minor run ins with the law.
“Government is looking to see how best we can humanize its application,” he told Parliament this afternoon, while noting that the current provisions, which are about 20 years old, were basically out of date.
The Prime Minister recalled that when he was a practising attorney, a man was disqualified from sitting on the jury because he was caught stealing cane from a plantation when he was 19 years old.
“Thankfully we don’t have those kinds of challenges anymore with people being convicted of those minor offences. The breaking of that cane might have been his lunch for the day [but] he was caught and he had to go before the magistrate at District C,” Stuart recalled.
And while “all of that is now a thing of the past”, the Prime Minister acknowledged that it was still difficult for people with criminal records to reintegrate into society.
However, he said increasingly people were seeking to benefit from the legislation and that Government was trying to facilitate those requests.
“More and more people are calling on its services and we are looking at how we can broaden its application, to make it more inclusive so that more people can get back into mainstream society and not be kept out everlasting because they may have made a mistake or two in their lives,” he said.
Stuart reiterated that Barbados was still a compassionate society and has made great strides over the last 50 years.
“We have not solved all problems, we have not seen all problems, but as these problems are drawn to our attention, we are trying to deal with them,” he added.