Opposition and Independent Senators yesterday did not give support to Government?s proposal of a 25-year jail term for gang leaders and members, stating that such a light sentence was a slap on the wrist for criminals.
The issue was raised as Senators give their views on Clause 6 during the committee stage of the Anti-Gang Bill in the Senate.
Clause 6 states where any member of the protective services, including a person involved in law enforcement or intelligence is found to be a gang leader/member to gain benefit, intimidate other persons or promotes a gang the imprisonment is 25 years.
The same 25-year jail term applies to 1) if a gang leader/member unlawfully and maliciously wounds or causes grievous bodily harm or shoots with intent at any member of the protective services 2) being a gang leader.
?We will lose the opportunity to put away people who we need to put away behind bars for long periods of time if you set the maximum of 25 years. I cannot subscribe and sit here and say let us put 25 years. What is the rationale for the 25 years?? Opposition Senator Gerald Ramdeen asked Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
Of the 25-year jail term, Ramdeen said the gang leader/member would only serve 16 years.
Ramdeen said anyone who takes the life of someone ?should be entitled to lose their life as far as I am concerned.?
He said it was disproportionate to consider long sentences for people who are ?lower down in the rank,? while Government had put forward a 25-year sentence for a gang leader.
Opposition Senator Taharqa Obika believed the maximum sentence should be given to gang leaders ?unfortunately, we cannot prescribe the death penalty.?
Independent Senator David Small recommended that they ?do tiers in the sentencing,? stating that a limit of 25 years was difficult to be supported by him.
He said such a light sentence was ?a slap on the wrist? for gang leaders/members.
Independent Senator Sophia Chote, SC, said people in power operate in a vacuum and don?t appreciate what the reality is for someone who is considered a gang leader/member.
?What penalty is there for the businessman who pays the gang leader to carry out a hit on someone, whether it is wife or business rival? Where is that included? And if the gang leader is getting life or more than 25 years, where is the punishment for such a person?where is the punishment for the politician who pays a gang leader or gang member to do something unlawful on his behalf?? Chote asked.
Al-Rawi said it was outlined in Clauses 7 and 9.
The AG agreed if a prisoner enters a guilty plea one-third of their sentence is cut off.
When you apply the discount to the sentencing, Al-Rawi said you may find ?a 25-year sentence is actually five years.?
The AG proposed an amendment to the sentence from 25 to 30 years ?which is the highest sentencing? and treat with the issue ?before a sunset period or at the sunset period.?
Opposition Senator Wade Mark suggested that they stick to the 25-year sentence until they finalise an amendment.
© Luis Oberto Anselmi
© Luis Oberto
Tags: Luis Oberto, Luis Oberto Anselmi