Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson revealed yesterday that more than 400 people charged with murder in the past 10 years are on bail.
"Of grave concern is again, notwithstanding anything said before by this administration, we do not in fact know how many people are out on bail," said Maynard-Gibson while contributing to debate on the 2012/2013 budget in the Senate.
"Indications are at the moment that there are more than 400 out on bail having been accused of murder or charged with murder. More than 400 since 2002."
Maynard-Gibson, who is also the minister of legal affairs, said her ministry will try to determine the exact number of accused murderers on bail.
"We are making every effort to get to the bottom of the situation," she said.
"But I already indicated to the public that as we become aware of people being released on bail, we will find the means to advise the public."
Maynard-Gibson said the public has a right to know who is granted bail as it is "a matter of personal safety".
"At the moment we have to aggressively address woefully inadequate record keeping," she said. "This is because the inadequate record keeping produces unreliable results."
In October 2011, then National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest revealed that 68 people charged with serious crimes in 2010 and 2011 were rereleased on bail.
According to Turnquest, 42 people who were charged in 2010 with the serious crime of murder, armed robbery or rape were released on bail.
"Of that number, seven were placed on the electronic monitoring system; that's the ankle bracelet. Twenty-six persons charged with a serious offense of murder, armed robbery or rape in 2011 are out on bail today and six of them have been placed on the electronic monitoring system, the ankle bracelet," he said at the time.
Maynard-Gibson said there are very few Bahamians who would say the system of justice is being ideally administered.
However, she said employees in the Office of the Attorney General are doing all they can.
She said her inquiries reveal that there is much room for abuse of the bail system because of inadequate record keeping.
The attorney general said the files of accused persons are not properly kept. She said she has already asked for that issue to be addressed.
"We are making every effort to compile accurate lists," Maynard-Gibson said. "We believe that swift justice is something to which victims of crime are entitled."
In addition to addressing concerns related to bail, she said the Office of the Attorney General is also looking to cut down on the number of backlogged cases.
She said cases will be made ready and prosecuted expeditiously.
Additionally, Maynard-Gibson said her office is working to implement the integrated justice system, and revitalize the witness protection program, among other things.
She stressed the importance of providing regular updates to the public at large, especially victims, when the accused have been released on bail.
The attorney general also raised concerns relating to the new magistrate court complex on South Street.
"...The complex was opened without proper attention being paid to matters such as general security and the proper and most efficient location of prosecutors," she said.
"As you know there is no space for prosecutors in that building. These matters are also being addressed as best we can in all the circumstances."
Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian