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  • The House of Representatives began debate on the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) (Amendment) Act, on September 17.
  • Under the legislation, convictions for possession of two ounces or less of ganja, or for smoking ganja, or possession of pipes or other smoking utensils, will not attract a criminal record.
  • Piloting the Bill, Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, said concerns have been raised in relation to the length of time persons have to wait to qualify for their records to become expunged.

The House of Representatives began debate on the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) (Amendment) Act, on September 17.

Under the legislation, convictions for possession of two ounces or less of ganja, or for smoking ganja, or possession of pipes or other smoking utensils, will not attract a criminal record.

Also, the Bill when passed will provide for the removal of criminal records for other minor offences.

Piloting the Bill, Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, said concerns have been raised in relation to the length of time persons have to wait to qualify for their records to become expunged, and their inability to attract gainful employment during that protracted period.

“A clean police record is required to access several areas of employment, such as the farm work programme, basic school teachers, security guards and a myriad of other sectors of employment. A criminal record may prevent persons from obtaining credit from financial institutions, or from travelling overseas or emigrating from Jamaica,” he noted.

The Bill also makes provision for the expungement of convictions under Section 10 of the Sexual Offences Act, once the term of imprisonment does not exceed five years.

Section 10 of the Sexual Offences Act makes it a serious criminal offence for anyone to have sex with another person, who is under the age of 16 years, regardless of the circumstances.

“As the law now stands, this applies even in the case of consensual intercourse between teenagers in a boyfriend/girlfriend situation. It is intended that this provision will be reviewed by the Joint Select Committee that has recently been appointed to review the Sexual Offences Act,” Mr. Bunting pointed out.

The Bill also removes the additional rehabilitation period prescribed in the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act, 1988; adjusts the rehabilitation period prescribed in the Act; and continues to exclude certain serious offences from the expungement regime.

Debate on the Bill will continue at the next sitting of the Lower House.

 

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