Sentencing Guidelines to Assist Judges

Photo: Mark Bell Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck (left), accepts a sentencing guideline manual for use by judges of the Supreme Court and the Parish Courts from Chief Justice Zaila McCalla at the official launch held at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew recently.

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, says the new sentencing guidelines for judges should assist in bringing more consistency in the punishment of criminals.
  • Mr. Chuck was speaking at the launch of the Sentencing Guidelines, Manuals for the Courts and International Human Rights Law Online Training for the Judiciary at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew, recently.
  • “Moreover, I wish we could move away and get the public to move away from the retributive purpose of sentencing to what we are pushing in the Ministry of Justice – restorative justice – where we hope that the victim can be brought into the sentencing process to (forgive) and the offender can admit his wrongdoing,” he said.

Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, says the new sentencing guidelines for judges should assist in bringing more consistency in the punishment of criminals.

“When a judge, having listened to all the facts, looks at all the aggravating factors, the mitigating factors, the age of the offender and the nature and gravity of the offence… there is no way it can be consistent, because all the judges have different education, upbringing, skills and knowledge and experiences,” he said.

Mr. Chuck was speaking at the launch of the Sentencing Guidelines, Manuals for the Courts and International Human Rights Law Online Training for the Judiciary at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew, recently.

The Minister argued that sentencing is not a science, adding that variations are likely to occur.

“Moreover, I wish we could move away and get the public to move away from the retributive purpose of sentencing to what we are pushing in the Ministry of Justice – restorative justice – where we hope that the victim can be brought into the sentencing process to (forgive) and the offender can admit his wrongdoing,” he said.

The Minister commended all those who participated in the publication of the sentencing guidelines and manuals.

“I hope that this will send the right signal to the public that the court is working extremely hard, and I agree that maybe a press officer should be provided, so that misconceptions can be cleared up and criticisms can be responded to. I certainly hope th0at our justice system will go from strength to strength,” he said.

Mr. Chuck also thanked the international partners who have assisted to improve the justice system over the years.

On the issue of sentencing, outgoing Chief Justice Zaila McCalla said for each case, a judge will take the unique circumstances into consideration.

She said that a press secretary or a media liaison person could be assigned to the Office of the Chief Justice, which would assist the office in disseminating accurate information to the public in relation to the work of the courts.

In the meantime, Mr. Chuck thanked the Chief Justice for the tremendous work she has done over the 10 years in the post. “We certainly believe you have left a huge legacy and your work will not be forgotten,” he said.

The launch and training were facilitated by the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) Programme, the United Nations, the Ministry of Justice and the Court Management Services, in collaboration with the Judicial Education Institute of Jamaica.

JIS Social