Dames softens tone on capital punishment

Dames softens tone on capital punishment
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames speaks to the media outside of Cabinet (FILE PHOTO)

Minister says it will take more than the death penalty to “get us where we need to be”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Amid renewed calls for the resumption of capital punishment, National Security Minister Marvin Dames has charged that it will take more to address the country’s crime problem.

Responding to questions from the media on the issue this week, Dames said: “It will take more than me to provide the answer if you will ever see it again.”

He continued: “We cannot continue to legislate our way out of the problems we find ourselves in. That is part of the problem.

“What we are seeing occurring in this country is decades of neglect. A manifestation of neglect by many of us as adults. The violators of crime throughout this country are our kids.

“And so, what does that mean? We all have a vested responsibility to play our respective roles. Regardless of my views about capital punishment, I think it’s certainly going to take more than capital punishment to get us where we need to be.”

In July 2017, the minister said the Minnis administration will push for the death penalty to be enforced in an effort to reduce violent crime. 

“We will use everything necessary in the law to ensure that persons who continue to commit crimes are dealt with to the fullest extent of the law and that includes capital punishment,” he told The Tribune at the time.

Last week, 30-year-old Alicia Sawyer and her eight-year-old daughter, Ednique Wallace, were murdered.

The double murder came on the heels of seven-year-old Reyes Williams being murdered in a drive-by shooting.

Both incidents occurred in Nassau Village.

Following the incidents, Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie, the MP for Nassau Village, called for the enforcement of capital punishment.

Citizens for Justice Chairman Bishop Walter Hanchell, who joined the public chorus for the death penalty, said the organization was outraged at the level of murders and violent crime in The Bahamas.

Hanchell insisted that capital punishment be reinstituted and enforced or removed from the law.

But Dames said the social and root causes of crime must be addressed.

He insisted that citizens must be accountable for themselves and those within the confines of their homes as part of the solution.

“Collectively we have to take a multiagency, multisectoral approach to the problems that are impacting us in this country,” the minister said.

“While I will be the first to put someone behind bars, I believe we have to move away from this idea that it’s going to take the laws to get us out of our problems.”

The last execution was held in 2000 when David Mitchell was hanged.

According to data presented by the police force this week, crime was down overall nine percent for the first nine months of this year compared to the same period last year.