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Beneath our paradise, lies a daunting social reality entangled with a growing culture of criminality. The Bahamas' geographical position and porous borders are significantly strategic for the drug trade and the trafficking of illegal weapons. Unearthing the solutions to The Bahamas' crime problem has become both urgent and more complex in an environment of, social decay, inequality of opportunities, disenfranchisement of young Bahamians, unprecedented levels of gang retaliation and an ineffective criminal justice system that is failing society.
The scourge of violence has exacerbated an already politically polarized environment smoothed with the fear of crime. The key priority of this article is correctly identifying measures to reduce criminal behavior in The Bahamas and advancing policy reforms to respond to the escalation of violence in our country. The See Do Culture that exists in our country has led to strong paternalism of character of the environment. The decomposition of our social structure and our growing inability to adequately contain the disappearance of social distinction has led to pathologies harmful to our national development. It's imperative that we understand the social construction of crime, beginning with unplanned and unintended pregnancies.
There are tremendous difficulties trying to control human behavior, but children born to young mothers face elevated risk of poverty. There's a direct correlation between children born in the circumstances of unintended pregnancies and the consequences that leave them in a less desirable position in many dimensions inclusive of educational achievement, social and emotional development, health and access to employment opportunities.
These children are vulnerable to child abuse and neglect. All of the above are variables for the development of criminal behavior. Encouraging young Bahamian women to use effective forms of contraception, and educating them about the availability, convenience, safety and effectiveness of these contraceptive devices, is a strategic approach in reducing the amount of less-advantaged Bahamian females having children as a result of unplanned pregnancies.
The candor of the matter is simple. We bear a social cost that ranges from increased welfare participation, a surge in the crime rate and diminished levels of high school completions. The cultural norm that persists in our country now indicates that there is less of a stigma associated to individuals engaging in premarital sex and out-of-wedlock childbearing in comparison to a few decades ago.
The policy solution must be engaging in a mass media campaign that brings necessary awareness of social and economic cost associated with unintended pregnancies. There must be the development of teen pregnancy prevention programs targeting at-risk teens. The expansion of family planning services can beneficial in increasing rates of contraceptive use and reducing unintended childbearing.
Prudent investment can be used to alleviate the problem supported by social interventions and it can also generate significant taxpayers' saving. These policy measures can change the social and economic trajectory of these children and families.
The implementation of a social policy should outline measures to improve the state of parenthood in our country. The importance of addressing the stubborn problems of economic inequality and immobility facing single-parent families is becoming one of the nation's most vexing social issues. The statistics from this issue are problematic and indicate an intensifying disadvantage for these families and their children. Policy intervention must articulate the creation of stable home environments for the development of children.
It's imperative that we maintain and even strengthen existing safety nets for single-parent homes. We should create a culture where children live with both biological parents in order to provide a stable environment producing healthy relationships. Implement marriage and fatherhood programs to promote child well-being.
Youth unemployment and the lack of job creation is a problem for social mobility in our country. Unemployment among young people is concentrated highly among the more disadvantaged population. We have to strengthen the collaboration and connection between local education institutions and the local employment market to improve job prospects.
The government must strengthen its financial commitment to existing programs that reconnect young adults to education and employment opportunities, provide special incentives on the behalf of the government through a public-private partnership that benefit young unemployed Bahamians and expand mentoring programs. We have to be cohesive in our attempts to align young people the necessary skills required to develop and diversify our industries.
The economic outcome for individuals dropping out of high school poses a daunting challenge for them for the rest of their lives. The continued incompletion of education on the behalf of Bahamian students undermines our shared future prosperity. A knowledge-based country where every citizen has a high school degree makes us as Bahamians not just the direct beneficiaries of that education, but better off. Policies should encourage students to stay in school longer making the compulsory schooling-leaving age 18 if that policy doesn't exist. Undergo the expansion of parental involvement through outreach programs. Refocus our priority on strengthening and creating mentoring and tutoring programs. Lastly, strategically identify promising alternative education programs.
The reduction of barriers for ex-criminals for re-entry in the labor market is important. The government should establish a prisoner reentry program with a core focus on prison-to-work transition. It's increasingly challenging for ex-prisoners to reenter our society and assume their social responsibilities. The expansion of educational programs inside prison can assist ex-prisoners with post-incarceration employment.
Effective crime policies must be used to fracture the corridor of violence in The Bahamas. While there is significant focus on The Bahamas' social policies, it is also important to consider that crime continues to be a focus of concern for policymakers. Making the reduction of drug and gang-related violence the country's most important policy priority is crucial.
It's evident socio-economic approaches are important for addressing some root causes of crime, and they shouldn't be divorced from the political solution.
There must be a cohesive solution to addressing youth violence. Analyzing the solution to youth and juvenile violence must begin with improving the quality of education and introducing harsher punishments to deter potential offenders. Our prison has become a breeding ground for hardened criminals. Essentially, we have to prioritize our resources on the most violent gangs or focus our efforts in a particular geographic location. The 'round-'em-up-lock-'em-up' crime policy is significantly ineffective. Center the crime policy on suppressing common crimes to restore a bond with the community that leads to better intelligence.
Illicit economies and the violence surrounding them are destructive to our national fabric and threaten our livelihood. It's necessary that our political, social and economic territory has laws consistent with the needs of our people. The most dangerous criminals should be targeted first to restore stability in our neighborhoods. Continue with the intensification of policing reforms by responding and reducing corruption, acquiring proactive policing strategies and developing the skills of law enforcement agencies.
We have to proceed with the rule of law in our country, along with social and economic development to prevent further violence. Solving our crime problems starts with promoting early child development, supporting disadvantaged youth, building skills and improving the safety net for vulnerable Bahamians.
- Latrae Rahming
This summer, the Progressive Liberal Party released a tough, innovative and comprehensive plan to fight crime.
We are calling for an updated urban renewal program, implementation of swift justice, a new Operation Cease Fire initiative to break the cycle of violence, and a range of other proposals focused on crime prevention, prosecution, punishment and rehabilitation. The details can be found on our website, at myplp.org.
PLP candidates are also sharing copies of the plan in their constituencies.
We are clear, reducing violence must be a top priority for the nation.
Bahamians could be forgiven for wondering whether the prime minister agrees.
Back from an extended summer vacation, Ingraham finally -- six months after promising to do so -- got around to addressing the nation on crime, and came up with not very much.
The PLP has said that several of the PM's ideas are reasonable and will find support from our party; we are always looking for common ground in the battle against crime.
We also said the proposals in the PM's address were "too little, too late". Perhaps we should have been more emphatic, because the truth is the PM's ideas are much too little, much too late.
With an entire generation and the nation's families at risk, the prime minister proposed $1 million for new social intervention efforts -- $5 million less than his government spent on Miss Universe.
Not the type to accept responsibility for errors, the prime minister left unmentioned the national consensus that his government made a grave mistake when they gutted urban renewal.
The PLP's pioneering program won international awards and, more importantly, broad support from Bahamians who viewed it as a critical tool in the nation's arsenal against crime.
It should be noted, too, that in a recent press conference, DNA Leader Bran McCartney also spoke out against urban renewal.
The DNA's knee-jerk opposition to urban renewal -- and to the PLP's entire Project Safe Bahamas plan which was designed in consultation with law enforcement experts, clergy, and community leaders -- shows that the DNA is not something new and different, just more of the same and not ready for the big time.
Opposing urban renewal for political reasons is not putting Bahamians first.
Our Urban Renewal 2.0 will: cut through red tape and address street-level problems troubling our communities; provide grants for community improvements, empowering residents and civic leaders; introduce a new mentoring program with 50 successful Bahamians from tough backgrounds building relationships with at-risk youth; increase support for faith-based initiatives; strengthen after-school programs, and more.
The FNM ended it; the DNA is on the record against it. The PLP is the only party with the expertise and the intention to implement urban renewal.
The PLP proposes increased funding for drug rehabilitation, safe havens created by the police in conjunction with the clergy, saturation patrols in crime hot spots, "violence breakers" with special training in conflict mediation, and increased surveillance of repeat offenders. On these issues and many more, the prime minister was silent.
The PLP's crime plan will be implemented alongside our extensive plans to expand the Bahamian economy. We've proposed doubling the nation's investment in education and training; we're serious about giving Bahamians the skills they need to compete for and keep sustainable jobs in the 21st century.
We have truly been baffled by the PM's almost nonchalant attitude towards crime; certainly, given the way the FNM operates, Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest's callous and cavalier dismissal of record murder rates as "criminals killing criminals" must have the PM's backing.
For years, the PM has failed to lead in the battle against crime. He used it as an election issue in 2007, and then promptly abandoned the cause. Now, with an election looming, he's once again entered the fray. But he's underestimating Bahamians.
They know that we need a government focused on fighting crime all the time, not just at election time.
PHILIP BRAVE DAVIS, M.P.
PLP Deputy Leader
By DANA SMITH
A MAN was being questioned by police yesterday in connection with an alleged attempt to cash a fraudulent cheque at a bank.
As the man was being arrested, by coincidence police were holding a press conference on the other side of the city urging the public to help capture the person responsible for cashing fraudulent cheques.
Speaking yesterday afternoon at the Crime Prevention Centre, Inspector Matthew Edgecombe of the Criminal Detective Unit (CDU) said thousands of dollars have been lost to one man's fraudulent cheques and police fear he may be a part of a ring of thieves behind the scam.
As the press conference commenced, a man walked into Ro ...
Police revealed yesterday that armed robberies are on the rise on New Providence.
Superintendent Stephen Dean, who is director of the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s (RBPF) Crime Prevention Office, said at a news conference at Police Headquarters that contractors and sub-contractors at the increasing number of construction projects on the island have become targets for robbers.
Police, however, insisted that 50 percent of robberies could be prevented through the use of personal security measures and awareness.
Dean said contractors and sub-contractors must stop bringing large amounts of cash to job sites to pay workers.
“This will go a long way in minimizing anyone who is thinking ab ...
Cable Beach Resort Association (CBRA) Announces Completion of State-of-the-Art Security System for the Cable Beach Resort Area
NASSAU, Bahamas - The Cable Beach Resort Association (CBRA) announced today the
completion of the installation of a comprehensive Closed Circuit Television
(CCTV) system, including high-tech security cameras, along the entire Cable
Beach resort area. The CCTV system was put in place as a private sector
initiative to support law enforcement in the prevention of crime in the area.
CBRA Chairman, Richard English,
stated, "The cameras have been installed across a wide area, with
intersecting coverage that will be monitored 24/7 by the local Cable Beach
Police Station using a state-of-the-art wireless system, with the CCTV screens
in the Police Station to be monitored continuously." In addition to
recording all activity in the coverage area, the system will also serve as a
useful tool in solving crimes.
The new security system's
coverage area will be concentrated in and around the Wyndham Nassau Resort,
Crystal Palace Casino and Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort...
National addresses by leaders are significant. They indicate that the topic being addressed is of national significance. They also indicate that the state is placing its full weight behind solving the problem under consideration.
No sensible person disagrees that we have a crime problem in The Bahamas. There have been four murder records in five years. The total murder count this year will be considerably larger than last year's record count. There are also problems with robberies and break-ins. Bahamians, especially residents of New Providence, do not feel safe in their paradise anymore.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham's address on crime Monday night was comprehensive. He brought forward new initiatives on the response and prevention sides of the issue of crime. We will first address the response side.
Ingraham announced an amnesty period for illegal weapons to be turned in, tougher penalties for people found guilty of gun crimes, and the addition of two courts at the Magistrates' Court level for gun and drug crimes. Magistrates will now have the power to sentence convicts to a maximum of seven years in prison rather than the five years currently allowed.
An additional criminal court at the Supreme Court level will be active by January, the prime minister said, along with a remand court at Her Majesty's Prison. This new court will reduce the frequency of the bussing of prisoners to the downtown area. This is welcomed and a relief. The change will reduce serious risk to innocent people.
Legislation is also foreshadowed to clarify the sentencing of murder convicts. Based on Ingraham's remarks, there will be three degrees of murder. One will be death eligible; one subject to a full life sentence in jail; and the other to sentences between 30 and 60 years.
We have gone on record with our opposition to the death penalty. Aside from that sentence, we agree that designations are needed for categories of murder.
These initiatives, and others already underway or just announced by the government, are useful. However, more could have been said about the state of the Office of the Attorney General.
While the prime minister said more investigation training is on the way for police, prosecutors at the Office of the Attorney General still present cases in the Supreme Court. It is true that police investigators have to up their performances. The state prosecution office needs to do the same.
We are not convinced that the Office of the Attorney General and its personnel and structure are up to the task of efficiently and successfully prosecuting matters in a timely fashion.
This office somehow escapes public scrutiny. Commissioners of police and ministers of national security should play their parts and lead. However, attorneys general and directors of public prosecution are equally involved in the justice system. Both the AG and his DPP must be more public and demonstrate to the country that they too are feeling pressure and are reforming their area of responsibility.
If our police put together good cases and our prosecutors bring them forward quickly, there would be no issue of bail.
We also think the government should clear the courts and its prosecution register of old cases that cannot be successfully or reasonably prosecuted. This is a difficult task, as it will require informing victims and their families that there will be no trial and punishment via the courts for vile offenses committed. Orders of no prosecution should be issued for all of these cases.
Years of failure to manage the criminal justice system properly have led us here. The Office of the Attorney General's time should not be wasted chasing past failure. We must work to ensure that the state prosecution service is feared.
If it is feared, many offenders would plead guilty to crimes committed when charged because they fear trial and a higher sentence.
"We are confronted by criminals - a criminal class of older seasoned offenders as well as a crop of bloody-minded juvenile offenders and thugs who seem to believe that they can evade the rule of law with little or no regard for life and other people's property," said Ingraham.
"For some, life is cheap; our common welfare is of no value. I share your anguish and anger whether you or a family member or neighbor has been a victim of crime. This vicious assault of crime affects us all. It destroys lives and damages livelihoods."
We are at a crossroad. If the level of crime and violence in our country rises further, we will become an unstable state and more of our citizens will consider living elsewhere.
We do not think the measures the government announced on the response side to crime will solve the problem, but we do think they will help counter the dangerous and violent trends that have emerged. We applaud the initiatives and hope that they will be effectively implemented.
Bank of The Bahamas (BOB) is partnering with the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) to provide safe and positive activities for youth this summer throughout New Providence and several Family Islands. The community-oriented bank recently donated a $4,000 check in support of all 16 summer camps that form the RBPF's Youth Summer Programme.
During a press conference at BOB's headquarters, Patricia James, manager of BOB's Carmichael Road branch, said this is the fourth consecutive year in which BOB has provided support for the program.
"We believe the RBPF Summer Youth Programme serves a vital purpose in our communities. It helps to keep thousands of children out of trouble and engaged in positive activities during the vulnerable summer months, when too much unsupervised time can lead to poor choices and regrettable actions. It addresses youth development, education and crime prevention, all of which are key aspects of our BOB sponsorship focus," said James.
Superintendent Stephen Dean, director of the National Crime Prevention Office, thanked BOB for its generous donation and said the bank is a valuable partner in the police force's community outreach and crime prevention efforts.
"We want to say to BOB how appreciative we are because it tells us you have the interest of The Bahamas at heart. We want to see a future Bahamas, and the only way we can do this is by investing in our young people and developing future leaders. A lot of people talk about it, but this is an actual example of someone who's doing it," said Dean.
According to Dean, this year's Summer Youth Programme will be held under the theme 'Developing Tomorrow's Leaders Today'. The six-week program, running from June 31 through August 8, caters to approximately 4,000 children ages eight to 16. It comprises 10 camps in New Providence and six camps in Eleuthera, Exuma, Andros, the Berry Islands, Bimini and San Salvador.
The record murder count with which we ended 2010 represents a complex of mostly quantifiable causes. But quantifying the means to combat violent crime is not easy. To wit, we should be sceptical of glib generalizations about the causes of and the means to address crime.
A booming economy does not necessarily translate into less crime. During one of the most severe economic downturns in its modern history various crimes have fallen dramatically across the United States, including in crime-ridden cities such as Newark, New Jersey.
Those who believe that the economic benefits associated with Baha Mar will necessarily result in a decline in violent crime will want to recall that even d ...
By REUBEN SHEARER
Tribune Staff Reporter
A TOP police chief has warned armed robbers that his officers are "coming to get them".
Superintendent Stephen Dean, director of the National Crime Prevention Office, yesterday sent a strong message to those responsible for a recent spate of armed robberies on businesses.
At a Police Headquarters press conference, he vowed: "We want them to know that we know who they are, and we are coming to get them.
"Members of the public can rest assured that these prolific offenders' life of crime is running out."
Data from an analysis of the recent attacks reveal the offenders to be a relatively ...
Last week we noted that although the Ingraham administration steered us through a treacherous period in world economic history it has not completely come up smelling like roses. There have been some unpleasant consequences to the administration's choices and there were, in my view, many missed opportunities.
CULTURE AND INDUSTRY
The FNM's investments in tourism infrastructure (the harbor dredging, the port move and the new airport terminal), are largely making way for anticipated tourism growth in the medium to long-term. That's not necessarily a foolish or irresponsible choice to make.
The problem is such investments won't yield the desired results unless you seriously address some of the reasons The Bahamas is no longer a hot ticket.
We are facing ever diminishing returns in tourism. Despite the millions who come here on cruise ships, what we really need are stopover visitors and this is where we've been dead in the water. We have had more cruise ship visitors than stopover visitors since the mid 80s.
We are a far more expensive destination than many competitors south of us and that's not about to change. But where we are also losing is that we are culturally far less interesting. Not enough of an investment has been made to actually make The Bahamas a more distinct and attractive destination. Beaches, casinos and sunshine can be found all over the globe and for a lot less than in Nassau. Are we going to be offering "1 flies-1 flies free" deals and cruise ship tax rebates for the rest of the decade?
Many of us believe that the answer lies in the marriage of tourism and cultural and artistic expression. Yet the government of The Bahamas refuses or is unable to act in a manner that encourages wider cultural entrepreneurship - entrepreneurship that can maximize local and tourist markets. And to be fair, the private sector is even less interested in investing than the government.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, Junkanoo is a Christmas festival not a spring festival like Mardi Gras or Trinidad or Rio Carnival. The western world is just not going to travel heavily to be in another country on Christmas night or New Year's Day. So what does that leave here in the capital?
The Fry (Arawak Cay) is the best attraction in Nassau, outside of Atlantis' casino, restaurants, clubs and water attractions. It features local food, live music and atmosphere (at affordable prices, prices which no hotel can match).
How can we expand or duplicate what's best about the Fry? What would it cost to do so?
Let's look at the FNM's track record. They rejected Carifesta twice. They show contempt (like the PLP before them) for the run-down shell of a National Performing Arts Centre (which could be the year round home of the National Dance Company, Children's Choir, Youth Choir, Youth Orchestra, Police and Defence Force bands and a National Theatre Company).
They have made a ghost out of the Junkanoo Museum. They don't seem to know what to do with Shakespeare in Paradise. And they generally refuse to facilitate cultural workers in a sustained and comprehensive way in the tourist zones.
As a result, Nassau remains a dull, run-down, expensive place to visit. We absorb all sorts of tax breaks for resort development.
In this period why couldn't we have been bold and taken some risks in an effort to improve The Bahamas as a cultural destination? Hotels aren't destinations. Cities, towns and countries are, but we settle for a country where the only thing people come for is to walk around in Atlantis. And soon Baha Mar, I suppose.
But outside of the jobs these enclaves create, aren't we losing out on opportunities to truly maximize the tourist dollars spent on the island?
Ingraham also flirted with legalizing numbers and then backed off, promising a referendum if he is re-elected. This is leading from behind, which is not his style.
The Bahamian government is broke and the numbers business is a quarter to half a billion dollar enterprise that goes untaxed and unregulated.
The government has a right and a responsibility to tax the daylights out of this business, to bring it into the light of public scrutiny and to use the money it gains to help build the country and strengthen the social fabric.
Ingraham should have used this recession to regulate numbers.
Instead, a magistrate has confiscated nearly $1 million and fined businessman Craig Flowers $10,000.
By now Ingraham could have collected as much in taxes for numbers as he got in the BTC sale. He should also have taxed alcohol more heavily as well.
I said earlier that if you are going to risk being voted out over something unpopular, you better make sure that the change you're introducing is worth it all.
I'm sorry but Ingraham could have left the roads bumpy, focused exclusively on fixing the eastern district water problem, and tackled a real problem instead of going through all this madness with the roads all at once.
What he should have done, again under the cover of the economic crisis, is address our regressive and unethical system of taxation that burdens the poor and middle class and lets the rich and their companies get away with all their cash.
Ingraham should have been the man to introduce income tax. It's the perfect time to do so. The pressure from the U.S. is leading us in that direction anyway. Would he lose this election if he did so? He may lose it over unfinished roads.
What I guarantee you though, is that the PLP would not have repealed it afterward. The government needs revenue. We have thousands of people on pension in the civil service who have contributed nothing to it but feel entitled.
The bubble will burst eventually. NIB is already automatically removing a percentage of my salary before it hits my bank account.
I may never make a claim at NIB but I accept that my contribution helps those who need support more than I do. Income tax is doable.
And thereby we can reduce these ridiculous customs duties that hamper the growth of Bahamian businesses because you are being taxed before you sell anything. I reject the argument that the government can't handle income tax. It can and so can our people.
I could talk about the fact that after downsizing ZNS, it is still operating at the same quality level as before, or about the FNM's refusal to touch Bahamasair despite the fact there are homegrown airlines who can pick up the slack.
But instead I wish to raise the question of right sizing the civil service. I don't think this has to mean sending hundreds of people home and creating a social and economic crisis. I mean actually moving people from posts where they are under-performing or are really redundant and re-training them to help plug holes elsewhere in the system. I'll give just a few examples.
I once interviewed Loretta Butler-Turner, Minister of State for Social Development, and she told me that the nation could use another 150 social workers. As you might imagine the social worker does crucial work that is essential to public health, public safety, crime prevention and the overall wellbeing of the society. Why not re-deploy and re-train some of your civil servants to fill this need?
Our schools are overcrowded. Every classroom could use a teacher's aid. And what about the problem of truancy? Or the need for environmental health inspectors to check homes and businesses, particularly given the occurrences of dengue.
There were creative options available to the government that would allow it to shift the public service work force to meet the greatest needs. We need park wardens and after school mentors for our teenagers; we need these in every community.
The FNM just lacked a holistic, creative social vision and they failed to see how their economic choices and challenges could actually work for them not against them in the effort to build a stronger, better country.
They took the unemployed and had them cleaning the streets. And sure, that met a need, because New Providence is filthy. But in the same way, there were other serious needs that could have been met, not just with new hires but by properly utilizing the people you already have employed.
So overall, I'll describe Ingranomics as an orthodox approach, lacking in innovation or experimentation. Ingraham played it safe, which can be a comfort in these unstable times. But sometimes you can play it so safe that you get fired by the people anyway, because the times demand more daring. We'll see what happens.