Persons on long periods of remand, because of an “in-built delay in the system”, should have access to educational programmes. This, according to a High Court Judge, would help with the accused’s integration back into society, instead of sitting in prison doing nothing and living on thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money.
This came as Justice Randall Worrell spoke to a young man, who spent three years on remand in relation to possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Jamal Julien Ricardo Proverbs, who was 21 at the time of the offence, was a pillion rider on a motorcycle when he was found with a firearm and ammunition on August 25, 2017.
The Crawford Road, Ellerton, St George resident had no certificates on entering prison back in 2017 and wasn’t able to complete any courses during his stay since prisoners on remand do not have access to educational programmes at the penal institutions.
“…That too needs to change because if we are going to say that there’s an inbuilt delay in the system of at least two to three years …it must mean that something must be done for those who have to suffer in the delay,” said Justice Worrell.
Proverbs was expelled from secondary school without any qualifications after three separate suspensions resulting from altercations. He was later enrolled at SJPP but said he stopped to work with his father.
“If you are to be released back into society how can we know that we can properly have you rehabilitated,” said Justice Worrell. “This is something that we have said from time immemorial. You’ve been there for in excess of three years which is going close to over a $100 000 being spent on you up there. There is no correlation as far as a programme is concerned because as far as this court is concerned and said on numerous occasions …if you are up there sitting down you must be able to take part in something as far as your remand is concerned…something to improve you…you come back to the court and say I was able to complete some CXCs.”
Though a pre-sentencing report suggested Proverbs had a low risk of re-offending, it was noted that his lack of formal academic certification may be considered a risk factor for possible re-offending behaviour.
The judge scolded him about his disruptive behaviour at school saying: “This free secondary education…has really gone to nought.”
Krystal Fenty, who represented Proverbs, highlighted some mitigating factors on her client’s behalf. She said though Proverbs didn’t finish secondary education he found a way to be self-sufficient and financially independent as a small farmer and part-time tiler.
She said he had been apologetic, cooperative with police and gave an early guilty plea and asked the court to consider that it was his first offence.
“The court should be wary of subjecting the defendant to the confines of hardened prison where it would be the most difficult to adequately rehabilitate him,” Fenty said.
The court’s concern was focused on Proverbs having the necessary tools to get back into society.
“Only thing different between you coming out of prison from when you went in, is age…you have not been taught to do anything there…makes no sense. We need to look at that as a society…you have to come back into society,” Worrell stated.
The court, however, considered that there was no use of violence, no previous convictions, his age and his good pre-sentencing report.
He was sentenced to time served and was ordered to enroll in an educational programme. After six months, an interval report will be to read to the court to indicate what has been done.
He returns on March 15 for the court to hear the report. Proverbs said he will again enroll in classes at the SJPP. Crown Counsel Olivia Davis prosecuted in the matter.