Far too many inappropriate sentences for criminals
Kaieteur News – I will write to you on a legal topic. I have noticed that there are far too many improper sentences for criminals in the Assize Court, I read almost every month at least twice in your newspaper widely read here in the diaspora, of criminals convicted of capital crime, and in particular the recent sentence that Foster Gravesande of Mahaica received at Demerara Assize, and that no one in the judicial hierarchy seems concerned.
As a former practitioner in Guyana myself, and with a keen sense of fair play in civil society, I would like to say that Guyana should take a closer look at its sentencing laws and principles used by judges, and introduce new legislation accordingly to suit the times.
Here in Ontario in 2021, first, a good sentencing technique that a judge often uses on a person like Foster Gravesande, who, from what I read in the Article is titled on page eight of Kaieteur News January 8 , 2021, ‘The only thing is that I love women … A Mahaica man tells the court before he gets 56 years for murder’, has been a model citizen and exemplary prisoner for the past four years, he would be declared a dangerous offender by the nature and seriousness of his crime.
In Ontario, such designation will result in an indeterminate sentence from a judge, with eligibility to apply for parole after seven years due to statutory legal guidelines. The learned judge in Guyana granted Mr Gravesande the 56-year quantum with eligibility for parole after 28 years.
I find such a sentence very interesting as a lawyer. I find it interesting because if one is sent to the “slammers” for 60 years or more with eligibility for parole exceeding 25 years, and as with Gravesande – eligibility for parole after 28 years – you will certainly never get parole, basically when you are in your 50s as Mr. Gravesande.
Now, in my humble opinion, a portion of the sentence is cruel and inhuman and should be addressed by the legislators and / or the Chancellor and / or the AG, because it is not cruel and only inhuman, but unconscious and difficult for me to spend as an individual living in civil society.
Why would a judicial officer find it appropriate to say that an offender is eligible for parole until he or she is 106, when the average lifespan of a citizen in Guyana is only 63 – that’s how we should act when we are wear a justice cap in 2021? I ask.
Here, in Ontario, the sentencing regime only allows a sentencing judge concrete parameters that he or she must properly sentence, and if a judge overrides those parameters he can have his District Supervisor, a senior judge , “Accuse” that judge of keeping him or her “in compliance and compliance” and, I conclude by saying that I, with Ontarian judges, found that they would use seven years as eligibility for parole as a measuring stick for when even the most dangerous offender with first-degree murder faces them in the courtroom. The Ontarian justice system deeply respects human dignity and the right of an offender to make up for a wicked act, especially when the State takes punitive measures, and the sentencing laws are aimed at that. I therefore feel that Guyana should take the lead from the Ontarian jurisdiction, known for its excellent judicial sentencing regime, and I am not hesitant to say, much like almost all other common law jurisdictions in the Commonwealth, such as Australia. , the UK, etc.
I have to wonder what would have happened to the thinking processes of the lawyer, who appeared on behalf of the Defense at the Sentencing Hearing following the decision of the learned judge at Demerara Assize for the rest of that day, much less Mr Gravesande, the offender, himself.
M. Shabeer Zafar