Dames: Committee will go back “as far back as we can” to expunge criminal records

Dames: Committee will go back “as far back as we can” to expunge criminal records
Minister of National Security and Mount Moriah MP Marvin Dames. (FILE PHOTO)

Natl Security Ministry encourages young offenders to apply

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As the government encourages young, first-time offenders to apply to have their criminal records expunged, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said the respective committees charged with the exercise will seek to go back as far as possible to wipe the slate clean.

In a public notice, the Ministry of National Security’s Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee said it is “accepting applications from young and first-time offenders who are seeking to have their criminal records expunged”.

“Since coming into office under the prerogative of mercy committee and as well as the committee led by former Commissioner Paul Farquharson (chairman of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee), this government has been working very assiduously to ensure that [it] clean the records of those persons who were deserving, to give them a second chance,” Dames told Eyewitness News.

“Our thrust, as we move forward in this regard, is about rehabilitating and ensuring that persons are given a second chance or given an opportunity to start afresh.

“And we have been doing just that.

“We’re currently now looking at all of those persons, as was mentioned by the prime minister, with minor possession offenses over the years to expunge those as well.

“And so, this is a part of our overall plan.”

When asked how far back the government will look to expunge the records of individuals for possession of small amounts of marijuana, the minister said: “As far back as we can.”

He continued: “And there is a vehicle in place; former Commissioner Paul Farquharson and his team have been working very hard.

“He is the chairperson of that particular committee and working on the expungement of records and they’re looking at that as well.

“So, again, at the end of the day, our government is of the view that persons deserve a second chance and it makes no sense that if a person who would have served time, or has a police record after being out in society for many years without any problems — we should look at that with the view of giving that person a clean record.

“And that is what we have been doing.”

The minister was unable to provide statistics at the time but said data on the number of individuals’ records expunged will be provided.

In October, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced the government will next year begin expunging the records of people convicted for the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

He also said the government is also considering the legalization of a hemp industry.

That month, Farquharson told Eyewitness News the process of expunging records for people convicted for possession of small quantities of marijuana, among other minor offenses, has begun.

“Our work continues and as chairman, I am very pleased with the progress we have made,” he said.

“In fact, we just celebrated our first year in office. We were appointed last September, on the 26th, so we just celebrated our first anniversary. We continue to make progress.”

Farquharson was unable to provide exact figures at the time but suggested the committee had received a notable number of applications for review.

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