$20 mil. loan to help fight crime

Nottage, who was speaking at the Association of Caribbean Heads of Corrections and Prison Services Conference at the British Colonial Hilton hotel, said access to the money is the “most important event” in the crime fight in recent times.

Together with the IDB, the government came up with a number of crime-fighting strategies that include targeting at-risk youth, strengthening the justice system and improving re-integration programs for convicts.

There continue to be serious concerns about the high rate of violent crime in The Bahamas.

The murder count has increased by 19 percent this year. There have been 76 murders so far this year, compared to the 64 that were recorded this same time in 2014. On the current path, the country would set a new murder record.

Nottage acknowledged that the fear of crime is high in many communities. He said the funding will help the government reduce crime and the fear of it.

“We just got access to the money and we have many, many ideas,” Nottage said. “Over the course of the next few months, I am hoping diligently that we put the money to work, we put more and more people to work, and develop systems [to] assist us in the ultimate goal to reduce crime, to reduce violence and to breed a safer Bahamas.

“… We are hoping to use some of the funds to improve communications between our law enforcement officials so that we can all efficiently and more effectively prevent crime as well as reduce crime.”

Nottage said a part of the government’s crime-fighting plan will be to address the overcrowding at the prison through the introduction of a parole system.

He said there are just over 1,500 people in prison.

“About half of them who are behind bars haven’t been found guilty of any crime, although they have been charged and are awaiting trial,” he said.

“We have decided as a government that, that is not a tolerable situation. It is not desirable and we should seek to overcome it.

“The IDB has joined us and in addition they have been willing to assist us with the development of a parole system.

“We will have in place the ability to release many of those who are in prison earlier than they would normally be released in a manner in which they can be adequately monitored so that they can return to society.

Nottage said a parole system will help some criminals to turn their lives around.

The minister told reporters that the government will undertake a study to determine who should be eligible for parole and under what conditions.

“We are not just going to start the program,” Nottage said. “We are going to do the study first and based on our findings we will introduce what we think would work for us.”

The Ministry if National Security will outline specific crime-fighting programs next week, Nottage said.


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