Timeline: The Western Jamaica ‘Light Sentences’ Debate

Background to the Issue

Senior investigators within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) have drafted a document which reveals that judges in St James, Westmoreland, Hanover, and Trelawny are opting more for fines, suspended sentences, and probation orders for persons convicted for illegal possession of firearm and ammunition. This revelation has sparked furore nationwide, especially in light of the fact that more than 570 persons were killed across the four parishes last year, with 80 per cent involving the use of firearms. This has led to a debate between the judiciary and the investigators about the appropriateness of the sentences meted out to persons  convicted for illegal possession of firearm and ammunition. Learn more from the links in the timeline below.

Tuesday, Jan 16, 2018

The “ridiculous” disparity in the sentence handed down by two High Court judges to four men who were held in Portland nearly five years ago with an arsenal of 18 illegal guns and a “bucketload” of ammunition has triggered demands for an explanation from the judiciary.

Wednesday, Jan 17, 2018

Attorney Peter Champagnie responds to the news story with an opinion piece explaining pertinent details of the case mentioned, and defending the sentences given.

Thursday, Jan 18, 2018

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck admits that he has concerns about the disparity in the punishment being handed down by High Court judges, even as one of the country’s top attorneys rushed to their defence.

Friday, Jan 19, 2018

The Jamaican judiciary, under fire for perceived light sentences handed to persons convicted for possession of illegal guns and ammunition, has come out swinging at critics and media reports on the controversy.