National Security Ministry seeks feedback from Grand Bahamians on proposed Parole Bill

Minister of National Security, Mr. Wayne Munroe opened the townhall meeting in Grand Bahama by outlining various aspects of the Proposed Parole Bill on Saturday, December 9, 2023 in the Foster Pestaina Hall at Christ the King Anglican Church. The townhall meeting was a part of a series of meetings being conducted by the Ministry of National Security and the Bahamas Department of Corrections in an effort to educate the public about the proposed Parole Bill. (BIS Photo/Andrew Miller).
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FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas — Minister for National Security, the Hon. Wayne Munroe says if someone commits a crime, is apprehended, put before the courts and found to be guilty, there is no doubt that person should be punished.


Minister of National Security, Mr. Wayne Munroe opened the townhall meeting in Grand Bahama by outlining various aspects of the Proposed Parole Bill on Saturday, December 9, 2023 in the Foster Pestaina Hall at Christ the King Anglican Church. The townhall meeting was a part of a series of meetings being conducted by the Ministry of National Security and the Bahamas Department of Corrections in an effort to educate the public about the proposed Parole Bill. (BIS Photo/Andrew Miller).

“When I was a trial lawyer, in some cases I would tell my client, it’s not a matter of if you’re going to jail, but a matter of for how long. That’s the reality of the punishment process,” Mr. Munroe said, during a special townhall meeting in Grand Bahama on Saturday, December 9, 2023.

The townhall meeting, which was held in the Foster B. Pestaina Hall at Christ the King Anglican Church, was part of an on-going national effort by the Ministry of National Security and the Bahamas Department of Corrections to first present and outline the proposed Parole Bill and get feedback from residents throughout The Bahamas.

Minister Munroe said that the series of townhall meetings had come to Grand Bahama, to get ideas and feedback from Grand Bahamians to find the best possible outcome for the Bill before it is drafted and presented to Parliament.

In presenting the Bill, Minister Munroe touched on various aspects of the proposed Bill, outlining specifics that would eventually affect not just those who will be serving time for criminal activity, but also the public who will be affected by those crimes.

Presenting his ideas, Minister Munroe noted that everything in public and social spaces begins with one’s home and family environment and how each person or each generation is raised.

“Back in the day” just about any adult in your community could chastise a child and the parent would not go after that person who chastised her child,” explained Mr. Munroe. “Instead, that parent would further chastise the child for acting out in public. But it was all a part of prevention. Preventing children from going into society and behaving in a way they should not behave.

“Well, if we cannot prevent you from becoming a criminal, or becoming involved in criminal activity, then the next step is we must apprehend you.

That’s the job of the police, aided by all of us. Apprehending criminals becomes easier with the assistance of the public. That’s why the major focus of the Commissioner of Police in his policing plan for this year is community engagement. We understand that it takes all of us to be concerned in ensuring that bad actors are apprehended.

“Once a criminal has been apprehended, then there will be a trial. Now, I admit that we have had some challenges with the trial process. I have a meeting with the Chief Justice to try and set up a ask force to address making it more efficient.”

The National Security Minister added that after that person has been tried before the courts and if found convicted, then the law demands that person be punished. He said there is no point in trying to get around that inevitable fact. He said the reason behind punishment was simple: What Mama used to tell us? If you don’t listen, then you will feel. So, if someone finds themselves at a point of being apprehended and put before the courts, it’s because that person did not hear or heed the lessons that were being taught.”

Mr. Munroe said what comes after conviction and punishment is rehabilitation. That aspect, he added, is important, because 98 percent of the people in the Bahamas Department of Corrections, will be released back into the community, after serving a sentence of four years, ten years, or even forty years.

“So, how they are when they’re released, is very important,” he pointed out.

“Conditional release of offenders Bill deals with that last component – rehabilitation.

“I want you to know that we are genuinely asking for your feedback so that we can have the best final product. We’re interested in hearing from you. When we held meetings in Central Andros and South Eleuthera, we were confronted with how we engage with the local population, because everything cannot be Nassau-centric. So, we are now reassessing how we will deal with people being released on these islands. We have to look at what works for the different locale.

“We will be consulting directly with the police, the Christian Council and the Bar Association, so that we can get this right.”

Minister Munroe said there is one overarching rationale behind this whole concept and that is if someone is released on conditions, it should be noted that the person is being released on the basis that if they comply with the conditions, then there will be no further consequences.

He proceeded to talk about probation, which is a form of condition on releasing an offender; he spoke about suspended sentences, which is a form of condition on releasing offenders; he then outlined the concept of parole and went into detail about the establishment of the Sexual Offenders Register.

Captain Floyd Moxey from the Ministry of National Security gave the attendees at the Townhall meeting a line-by-line look at the proposed Bill, before listening to any concerns and answering questions.

Minister Munroe said he was not sure of the time line of the full implementation of the Bill after approval, but did say that certain aspects of the Bill would be enforced immediately once it is approved.

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