Government Senator Matthew Samuda has defended the position taken by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government to enact mandatory minimum sentencing that ensures dangerous criminals are sent away for a long time.
Samuda, who was making his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate on Friday, pointed to the recently enacted Firearms Act with sentencing ranging from a minimum of 15 years to life for those found in breach of the legislation.
“I unequivocally support the mandatory minimum penalty imposed for gun offences and indeed declare today (Friday) that the mandatory minimum penalty of 30 years behind bars for murders cannot happen soon enough. I’d urge my colleagues on the Executive Branch of the State to continue taking a stand in the interest of law-abiding citizens of Jamaica,” Samuda said.
“We have chosen their side and it is a matter of public record that societies which, among other measures are prepared to send strong messages in terms of its law to deal with violent crime generally are successful in taming the crime monster,” he added.
Samuda said he has taken note of the pushback from some quarters since Prime Minister Andrew Holness indicated recently that a mandatory minimum penalty of 30 years behind bars is being contemplated for people convicted of murder.
He singled out the lobby group Jamaicans for Justice as one of those objecting.
“Not surprisingly, there has been the usual pushback from the same stakeholders to the potential solutions to the problem of violent crime. Indeed, Jamaicans for Justice has accused the administration of running the risk of causing the legislature to impose itself upon judicial functions. I strongly disagree with that narrative. In fact, in the context of our high murder rate over many years, it is full-time that the Jamaican State, via the executive and legislative branches, sends a strong message regarding its unwillingness to tolerate slaps on the wrist for people found guilty of perpetrating heinous crimes,” Samuda declared.
He said it was “good that the JLP administration has sent a message to those who bring long-lasting pain to law-abiding members of society, by imposing a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years for those found in possession an illegal gun.