Nearly 150 inmates granted clemency

Nearly 150 inmates granted clemency

Committee reports uptick in applications

NASSAU, BAHAMAS  — Nearly 150 inmates at the Department of Correctional Services have been granted clemency — the largest group the Prerogative of Mercy Committee has ever considered.

The committee met yesterday and reviewed the requests for clemency of 205 individuals, and two for expungement of records.

“As a result, 147 were approved for clemency, six pending additional reports, one record expunged and 59 deferred to the next meeting in January 2021,” read a statement.

“The group comprised the largest that the Prerogative of Mercy Committee has ever considered.”

In an interview with Eyewitness News yesterday, Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee Chairman Paul Farquharson said the push on social media in the last couple of weeks has resulted in an uptick in applications for record expungement.

Rehabilitation of Offender Committee Chairman Paul Farquharson.

“We hope that early in the new year we will have them reviewed once they will fill out the application,” he said.

Asked whether he was satisfied that eligible Bahamians were taking advantage of the “second chance”, Farquharson said during the height of the pandemic things slowed, but since The Bahamas largely reopened there has been more movement.

“I don’t know if that coincided with the uptick that I see in the requests — at least to come and get an application,” he said.

“We would hope those applications turn into proper applicants, making the application for expungement.

“It is one thing to collect an application.

“The other thing is to bring it back completed, starting the process of expungement.

“I think we are very pleased with the uptick in the collection of [applications] from the Ministry of National Security in the two or three weeks.”

The Rehabilitation of Offenders committee has the mandate to review applications and make recommendations for the expungement of records to the minister of national security.

Its focus has been on young people and first-time offenders.

The work of the committee is part of a regime change that is expected to include an established parole system that would allow some inmates to be released early with stipulations.

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

The committee can expunge the records of an offender convicted of possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply if the quantity was less than 10 pounds of marijuana, two pounds of cocaine or 20 grams of opium morphine and its salts.

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, young people and first-time offenders can have their conviction expunged after two years, half the five-year period that applies to others.