Sunday, October 23, 2011

All the pillars of society - the government, the opposition parties, the church, the judiciary, the security forces, the educational system, the family to name a few - must work cooperatively and congenially for the reduction of crime in our Bahamas ...The blame game is most dysfunctional and, at best, divisive...


PhD, LLB (Hons) CLE

KINDLY allow me some space in your valuable column to make a few comments on the issue of crime in The Bahamas.

In recent times, it has become fashionable and convenient for those who were themselves at one point or the other, in one capacity or the other, in charge of our country to make public proclamations on the cause of crime and to point fingers at others for the same.

Nothing is wrong with this as it keeps focus on the problem but, in all of it, the proclamations appear to miss the real target. I will return to this point later.

One has heard the Leader of the Official Opposition pontificate about who is responsible for the crime wave we are experiencing and as to what he would do about it if he and his party were returned to political power.

It appears, however, that he has conveniently forgotten that he and his party had five years to deal with this said problem of crime but he and his party did little or nothing to solve the problem and they were removed leaving the problem to grow and fester.

When the crime, at the material time, touched personally, the Leader of the Official Opposition, there were many promises of what he was going to do to get to the bottom of it but, alas, nothing was done. The problem remained unabated.

The Leader of the DNA, like the Leader of the Opposition, has blamed the present government for the problem of crime going so far as to hold the Minister of National Security personally responsible for the problem, quite conveniently forgetting that he was a senior member and Cabinet Minister of the now governing party and therefore shares part of the blame.

While one acknowledges that the crime issue is one of grave concern, leaders as well as those aspiring to be political, religious and social leaders ought not to allow themselves to make pronouncements on this most serious issue based on emotions, spite, political pandering, personal, arbitrary and ascriptive criteria or on poorly understood facts or principles. To do so is to be divisive and it bodes no one well nor does it contribute to the solution of the problem which should be the aim of all those who engage in the debate on the issue.

With all the noise in the market place about crime, particularly crimes involving murder, the salient point that is being missed or ignored or not understood or factored in the analysis is that no one, not the government, not the Minister, not even the parent or spouse of the murderer can prevent a murder unless the murderer makes his intention known prior to carrying out the act.

Even so, one may articulate an intention and may not follow through on the expressed intention or follow through may be delayed.

Murder is ideally personal and, in most cases, private, even if it is committed in a public way. Some murders are spontaneous.

Thus, because murder and other violent crimes can only be prevented if one has prior knowledge of their impending incidence, it is shortsighted and, in many ways, unfair, in one's view, to hold any one personally responsible for them save the perpetrators.

It is for this reason that when the accused of a murder or other crime is convicted of his crime, not the government, the minister or his parents, is punished personally.

This is not to be construed to say crime cannot be prevented for surely certain measures can be put in place to discourage or reduce its incidence, but this will only be effective when we as a society have a clear understanding of the root causes of crime in our society.

Not the causes of crime in the US or other Caribbean territories as published in reports and textbooks, but those causes, if any, characteristic to The Bahamas.

The factors involved in causing crime are varied, multifaceted and, some cases, interrelated and, as such, any number of or any combination of them can synergise in any individual or group of individuals to result in the commission of a crime.

What we, as a society, need to do is to try through detailed and valid longitudinal scientific research, to identify, if we can, those factors, conditions, circumstances, community characteristics, family variables and even national linkages that are common among murderers and perpetrators of other violent crimes that may be trigger factors and therefore attempt to identify and develop and apply practical ameliorative strategies.

Even so, we may, at best, only make a small dent in the problem.

If we can, that would be a starting point from and on which we can build and learn. Crime is not a simple issue in any society.

There is no simple or easy solution therefore. If there were, other more developed and advanced societies would have solved it a long time ago because they have been grappling with it longer than we have.

All the pillars of society - the government, the opposition parties, the church, the judiciary, the security forces, the educational system, the family to name a few - must work cooperatively and congenially for the reduction of crime in our society. The blame game is most dysfunctional and, at best, divisive.

October 20, 2011