Fixing Crime and Criminal Justice for the Sake of OUR Children
The blogmaster thanks Tee White for sharing the Paper used to complete this blog
– David, blogmaster
In recent weeks two matters have unfolded in the Barbados courts to support the view that the time has come (past) for citizens of Barbados to sensibly discuss crime and the criminal justice. Although Barbadians have been labelled an educated people this is betrayed by the ease with which we cede our civic responsibly to the political class.
At a juncture in our history where the crime level has risen to an unprecedented level and a dysfunctional court system that threatens to implode under the weight of a burgeoning case load – the question on the blogmaster’s mind is why are Barbadians allowing members of the political class AND surrogates to lead the conversation about crime and the justice system in Barbados. The politics we practice by design is adversarial and it therefore stands to reason a debate about law and order matters will be acrimonious and unproductive if led by this group. We need to hear from non political players, the social scientists et al.
In a paper written by Christina Pantazis with the title Inequalities in crime and criminal justice as it pertains elsewhere the author concluded with the following:
In this paper, I have shown that the criminal justice system reproduces inequalities: certain groups of people selectively pass through the system B namely, young poorly educated males, many of whom have ethnic minority backgrounds, and who may have spent some time in care or living as homeless. The over-representation of these groups of people is the result of law enforcement procedures which serve to highlight the activities of these people, whilst simultaneously minimising the criminal actions of more powerful people and organisations.
Given the type of people who get caught in the criminal justice system, as well as the reasons for the disparity, we can see that the role of the criminal justice system is not a means for dealing with crime and dispensing justice. It is more about classifying harms B where the harms of the powerless are exaggerated, and the harms of the more powerful are minimised.
A further read reveals similar characteristics to what obtains in Barbados. It cannot be refuted that Dodds Prison and other ‘penal’ institutions are predominantly populated with people from the lower socio economic segment. What also cannot be refuted is that the majority of those arrested are located in the lowest socio economic bracket. What also cannot be refuted is that citizens suffering with mental and related challenges are dealt with harshly in our system.
Why is our prison population not reflective of behaviours in the national population? Do we have white colour crime? The affluent do not drink and have mental events? Why are certain types of crime not vigorously pursued by the ‘system’? The ordinary Barbadian is use to saying – we have two Barbadoses.
The question (for 10 marks) we have to answer on behalf of our children – why is there an over representation of certain people incarcerated by the system. With the upsurge in crime in Barbados and a court system under perpetual duress triggering decline now is the best time to understand and address what are factors adversely affecting law and order and creating a bias to how we operate. The stability of our little island requires for sensible people to rationally discuss AND address the cause of the seismic shift that has occurred in the social landscape of Barbados.
Unless we want to follow the path of a few neighbouring islands.
Link to paper – Inequalities in crime and criminal justice (Christina Pantazis)