The Supreme Court is moving to develop new sentencing guidelines with support funded from Britain and the United States.
A 12-member committee chaired by Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson met last Thursday at the British High Commissioner’s official residence to explore the feasibility of creating sentencing guidelines for Barbados, according to a statement from the High Commission.
Sir Marston said: “This is a significant move for the dispensation of criminal justice in Barbados and I am very grateful to the US and UK governments for their support.”
A judge of the England and Wales Supreme Court who has “extensive experience in drafting sentencing guidelines across multiple jurisdictions” is assisting the High Court here in the developing the guidelines.
Justice Maura McGowan also sits on the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Sentencing Advisory Committee.
The meeting also involved “a range of stakeholders in the criminal justice system, including criminal judges and magistrates, the Director of Public Prosecutions and
academics from the University of the West Indies”, the statement added.
Director of Public Prosecutions Donna Babb-Agard QC, who expressed enthusiasm about the new thrust towards developing sentencing guidelines, said: “The work of this committee is a great step forward in ensuring fair and consistent sentencing, which is as important for victims and witnesses as for the accused.”
Sentencing guidelines set out the rules for judges and magistrates to weight the seriousness of an offence and its appropriate punishment, in order to ensure that the sentence meets the crime and meets the broad constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
Legal experts say the guidelines should ensure that judges across the board apply consistent standards in sentencing.
Another goal of sentencing guidelines is to improve understanding of how a particular sentence has been reached in a sentencing process that is more transparent to complainants, accused persons, lawyers, and the general public.