Opinion: Playing hardball

POSTED: 04/23/12 1:43 PM

Justice Minister Duncan is a proponent of playing hardball with criminals. You do the crime, you do the time, prosecutors like to say. Minister Duncan wants foreigners to serve their whole sentence. No early release for criminals that are not from here. The idea as such is debatable but if such a political decision is taken, prisoners will have to put up with it.

As the court ruling in the Collet and Mark-case shows, our minister has great ideas but he is rather sloppy in the execution. Even a Justice Minister has to play by the rules, and the Common Court of Justice caught Duncan, figuratively speaking, with his pants down.
Duncan’s first argument not to grant Mark and Collet early release was that he would be unable to check whether they would behave. Mark is a fisherman from Grenada, and Collet is a French restaurateur. Upon their early release, both men will be handed over to the immigration department for deportation. And Minister Duncan is unable to verify from Philipsburg whether the two drug smugglers abide by the conditions attached to early release (like a ban on committing new crimes) in Paris and St. George’s.

Later the minister buy valium ireland came up with a different argument: a policy that foreign criminals with a sentence higher than five years do not qualify for early release. Again, that is a policy St. Maarten could adopt, but Duncan had kept it somewhere in a desk drawer. The policy only exists as an undated and unsigned document that has only been distributed to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the prison and the Rehabilitation Bureau.

Attorneys and inmates, let alone the population that is not behind bars, were completely unaware of this policy. And what’s more: the prison and the Rehabilitation Bureau were apparently not aware that the policy was in place as they both issued a positive advice about the early release of Mark and Collet.

Reason enough for the court not to believe a word of the assertion that St. Maarten had followed Duncan’s early release policy steadily since 10-10-10. When the early release of Mark and Collet came up, they were the first ones to discover that such a policy existed.

The court has now ordered the inmates’ immediate release, leaving the Justice Minister to lick his wounds and to brood on a plan to implement his policy properly.

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