Applications for expungement of records seeing uptick; more offenders encouraged to apply

Applications for expungement of records seeing uptick; more offenders encouraged to apply
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames speaks with members of the media ahead of a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, December 29, 2020.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee has seen a recent uptick in requests for expungement of records.

Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet, Dames once again urged individuals with criminal records to apply for the initiative and take advantage of a “second chance”.

He noted that in the new year, the committee plans to launch an aggressive public education strategy so that Bahamians can be more informed about the opportunity.

“We ask everyone to apply, as much as possible,” he said.

Dames insisted that individuals with crimes “across the board” can apply for the initiative, and “everyone is entitled to an audience”.

According to the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Amendment) Act, 2015, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee will hear applications to all offenses excluding murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, rape, kidnapping and treason.

The committee’s focus has been on young people and first-time offenders.

Dames yesterday noted that the process can take up to a few weeks for recommendation, consideration and approval.

“Whatever we can do to continue to shorten the process, we will,” he said.

The national security minister also advised that the Prerogative of Mercy Committee continues to review over 200 applications for clemency.

Last week, 147 inmates were approved for clemency, six pending additional reports, one record was expunged and 59 matters were deferred to the next meeting in January 2021.

“We need to move this in a new direction and we have been doing just that,” Dames said.

“…We hope to move into the new year as we work towards doing a much better job in that regard in terms of rehabilitation.”

While he would not indicate specifically what the offenses of those inmates granted clemency were, Dames said they were “across the board”.

He said matters are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis by an experienced committee, along with psychiatric reports and reports from the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services, police and the Department of Social Services.

“We believe in giving people a second chance,” he said.

“…If a person can convince the committee that they are indeed ready for reintegration, the committee in all likelihood will consider it strongly and I’m grateful for that.”