jamaican law on death penalty

“Nasralla Case”, Gleaner, 19 October 1966, p.2; “Judgment in Case against Nasralla”, Gleaner, 17 March 1967, p.5; Director of Public Prosecutions v. Nasralla [1967], UKPC 3. In those studies, the main explanatory factors for developments in Caribbean capital punishment are identified as European legal and penal cultures, the activities of international human rights organisations and London-based lawyers, and the political concerns of the UK government.3 By contrast, there has been little analysis of the events in local courts and prisons where death penalty appeals originated and condemned prisoners awaited their fate. Prisoners were not permitted to wear shoes and were rarely provided with changes of clothes, and then only at the whim of prison guards. Critically – and in contradistinction to prisoners who were executed after similarly lengthy spells under sentence of death just a few years later – Williams had long since exhausted his legal appeals, so the delay in enforcing his death sentence was largely due to government inaction, which once again attests to the significant impact of the Warder Clarke kidnapping on the fate of the death row prisoners who participated in it. Dissatisfied with this outcome, the Cabinet returned the issue to committee in early-1978 but with the same result, except that the committee noted specifically on this occasion that it lacked the resources to conduct a full investigation into the “effect of capital punishment as a deterrent to crime”.81 In the wake of this report, Rattray called for a formal suspension of the death penalty pending a more detailed study of its effects.82 This proposal was rejected in the House of Representatives on 30 January 1979 by a narrow vote of twenty-three to twenty, but a week later the Senate voted in favour of an eighteen-month suspension of executions.83 Commentary in Jamaica’s leading daily newspaper, the Gleaner, expressed exasperation at the state of affairs, which it believed left the Governor-General and Jamaica Privy Council “in a most unenviable position”, imposed psychological cruelty on condemned prisoners by delaying executions and raising hopes of a reprieve, and insulted public opinion, which, it argued, supported the continuation of hanging. A psychological examination carried out in April 1991 on Ivan Morgan, who had been under sentence of death since 1979 and had, on three occasions, been moved to the death cell adjacent to the gallows only for his execution to be postponed at the last minute, provides an unusually detailed and official record of the impact of death row on an inmate’s mental health. She explained that Eustace was her eldest son and, as he had been just 18 years and 4 months old when Barton was killed, Maloney – his younger brother – could not have been older than 17 at that time. He was acquitted of the capital charge, but the jury failed to agree on whether he was guilty of the lesser crime of manslaughter. The cell doors remained closed at all other times except for a few minutes each morning when prisoners were taken, usually in groups of three, to empty their buckets, fill their water jugs and wash. Radios and reading material of any kind were prohibited in the cells, as were all items of personal hygiene. The Acting Director of Prisons alleged that the men who kidnapped Warder Clarke were planning a massive jail break and their subsequent criticism of prison conditions was nothing more than a cover story adopted after the escape attempt failed, but the Barnett Commission concluded that there was no credible evidence to support this interpretation and the prisoners’ aim all along had been to bring various grievances to public attention. 53 “Man hanged”, Gleaner, 20 October 1971, p.2. Examining Jamaica's DEATH PENALTY amidst calls for HANGING to RESUME to tackle the Country's Crime ... Regent University School of Law Recommended for you. Largely focused on the United States, this work finds little evidence of death row resistance and, indeed, identifies conditions on death row that strongly militated against collective action. Reaching up to peep through a vent high in his cell wall, Ashwood “could see the grave dem a dig[. 7 Johnson (1981, p.148), cited in Smith (2008, p.245). Hector, M., Death Row, London, Zed Books, 1984. A psychological examination carried out in April 1991 on Ivan Morgan, who had been under sentence of death since 1979 and had, on three occasions, been moved to the death cell adjacent to the gallows only for his execution to be postponed at the last minute, provides an unusually detailed and official record of the impact of death row on an inmate’s mental health. Hector also wrote under difficult conditions. 23Hector himself gave three specific examples of this connection between events on death row and the struggle against individual convictions and the death penalty more broadly. 45 The “non-implementation of some of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Barnett Commission of Enquiry” was identified as a primary cause of rioting at the St Catherine District Prison in August 1976. After undertaking only cursory enquiries, the committee recommended that no changes should be made. The article also uncovers the local roots of opposition to the death penalty in Jamaica. Criminologist Robert Johnson described Alabama’s death row in the late-1970s as “like a tomb.” Consisting of four tiers of cells in two blocks, death row prisoners were separated from the outside world by five locked gates, and such was the construction and layout of the cells and the regulation of prisoners’ daily routines that communication even between tiers of cells within the same block was “almost impossible”.6 While prisoners might talk and play games with men in neighbouring cells, and, through these activities, provide each other with some psychological support, there was almost no scope for organised resistance. Smith, A., “Not ‘waving’ but drowning: the anatomy of death row syndrome and volunteering for execution”, in the Water: the Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy, A Passage Through the Valley of Death: the Anthony ‘Fines’ Ashwood Story, Life after Death Row: Exonerees’ Search for Community and Identity. A committee established in 1979 to consider the reform or abolition of the death penalty in Jamaica, found that “Many of the men who wore dreadlocks positively believe that their appearance caused the judge and jury to be biased against them. They were an implicit rebuke and challenge to the “meanings of death” that the state sought to impose. The Jamaica Privy Council, which reviewed all death sentences and issued recommendations on clemency to the Governor-General, was not required to explain its decisions, but in this case did so with reference to Hector’s age. 30 Report of the Committee to Consider Death (1981, pp.18-20). & Whitman, L., Prison Conditions in Jamaica, May 1990: An America’s Watch Report, New York, Human Rights Watch, 1990. Prior to independence, most homicides involved domestic violence and from the mid-1980s an even greater increase in the murder rate was linked to transnational drugs trafficking. He continued, “the massive public support for Michael Bernard was clearly rooted in the revulsion of the general public in having the execution in their name of a man in respect of whom there might exist even the scintilla of a doubt”.79, 34The death penalty by this time was in a state of paralysis in Jamaica, a further indication of the long term impact of the events set in train by the protests on death row in 1974. Official death certificates indicate that at least two men may have been under 18 at the time of murders for which they were executed in the late-1960s and early-1970s, while Everton MacFarlane was only 17 in early-1975 when the Jamaica Privy Council upheld his death sentence and issued a warrant for his execution to proceed.75. He also expressed the hope that, when assessing the case for clemency, the Jamaican Privy Council might take into account the fact that the appellants had spent four years under sentence of death. This was a unique moment in the history of Jamaican murder. By contrast, the younger prisoners were more militant. In 1977, the Minister of Justice, Carl Rattray, himself a committed advocate of penal reform and abolition of the death penalty, identified the case of Michael Bernard as a key reason why around 2,000 people had signed a JCHR petition calling for an investigation into the use of the death penalty. Eventually, the superintendent did agree to a meeting and it was at this point that Hector was chosen to represent the death row inmates. 46:39. They argue that Rastas are given a hard time by the agents of the State”. He relied on fellow inmates to hide papers and smuggle them to the outside where the Jamaica Council for Human Rights coordinated the book’s publication. The average age of the prisoners when they were interviewed was twenty-six, though their average age was just twenty-three at the time of the crimes for which they were sentenced to hang. Largely focused on the United States, this work finds little evidence of death row resistance and, indeed, identifies conditions on death row that strongly militated against collective action.5 As sociologist David Garland has argued, the death penalty in the U.S. became increasingly regulated, medicalised and sanitised during the twentieth century, and death row developed into the most tightly managed of all carceral environments. 36While Williams’s life was spared, however, the Jamaica Privy Council also in May 1979 issued warrants for the execution of eight other prisoners. This has not, however, led to the resumption of hangings. 25 Persons Sentenced for Murder, including infanticide (fiscal Year). URL : http://journals.openedition.org/chs/1715 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/chs.1715, James Campbell is Associate Professor in American History at the University of Leicester where he works on the history of race, crime and punishment in the United States and the Caribbean. Jamaica Police Federation Wants Death Penalty for Cop Killers September 27, 2020 Chairman of the Jamaica Police Federation (JPF), Patrae Rowe is calling for the death penalty to be imposed on criminals who murder members of the security forces. 72 Baker v. R. [1975], UKPC 22, Majority Judgment, 5. In 1962, there were 57 reported murders in Jamaica, but by 1972 that figure had more than trebled to 188 and by 1980 it stood at 699. In the early-1970s, three men went to the gallows after almost three years each on death row (Aston White, Alexander Francies, Lawrence Sinclair) and in the early-1980s several prisoners were executed after delays of more than seven years. The first concerned prisoners’ correspondence with their attorneys and other supporters on the outside. The second inquiry, headed by H. Aubrey Fraser, the Director of the Norman Manley Law School, had a broader remit to assess whether the death penalty in Jamaica should be “abolished, limited or modified”, and in what conditions condemned prisoners should be held. Mario Hector’s account of his time on death row shows that harsh physical and psychological conditions, coupled with the growing delays between sentencing and execution, were critical to the growth of convict resistance. 20 (8) of the Jamaican Constitution, which guards against double jeopardy. Most dramatically, on 26 December 1974, he was among a group of up to twenty-four death row prisoners who seized one of the prison warders – a man named Clarke – and held him hostage. The two men who appear from their death certificates to have been executed for murders committed when under 18 were George Grant, executed as an 18 year old in 1969 for a murder committed 18 months earlier, and Lawrence Sinclair, whose age was recorded as 20 when he went to the gallows in 1972 for the 1969 murder of Stafford Williamson. However, in order to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ, as the neighboring countries of Guyana and Barbados have done, Jamaica will have to first amend its Constitution. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Jamaica, Washington, D.C., Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 2012. Pearleta Segree, Viola Watson and Icema Braham. Only fourteen were literate, a consequence of infrequent attendance at school, which in turn was normally due to having to help out with work at home, including tending to animals and caring for younger siblings, and also a lack of money for bus fares and lunch. Une étude mondiale sur les erreurs judiciaires dans les couloirs de la mort, Pathways to Abolition of the Death Penalty In the course of the examination, Morgan was hyperactive, “laughed a lot” and gave responses “that were clearly inappropriate and euphoric”. The article draws on a wide-range of previously neglected sources. Fr. Fr. A further three cells were situated adjacent to the death chamber that housed the gallows and used to hold inmates in the days immediately preceding their scheduled execution. That he had also become involved with the work of the Jamaica Council for Human Rights and undertaken a sociology degree also raises the possibility that his views of the mid-1970s were coloured – whether deliberately or inadvertently – by his later experiences and evolving political beliefs. This judgment was based on schedule 2. A commuted sentence on the grounds of age, likewise, was not an inevitable outcome of the clemency process. Banner, S., The Death Penalty: an American History, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 2003. Among the findings were that most of the men were from low socio-economic backgrounds, grew up in violent neighbourhoods and came from large but unstable families in which the children “tend[ed] to be fathered by several different men” and frequently had to look after themselves. This militancy was a response in part to the oppressive conditions on death row, but Hector suggested it was also borne out of Jamaican independence, or, more precisely, what he called the betrayal of independence. The conviction was later upheld on appeal, but nearly eighteen months after Bernard’s original trial, in late-1974, Stewart retracted her evidence and claimed that a man named Shorty Lloydie had threatened to shoot her if she did not identify Bernard as Stevenson’s killer. By 1975, there were thirty-six men awaiting execution in Jamaica and by January 1979, after three years during which no executions were carried out, the figure had risen to seventy-nine. A deal was eventually brokered whereby Clarke was freed and five of the prisoners, including Hector, were granted an audience with Manley at which they outlined their complaints.39 These focused on four main issues: the inadequacy of legal representation in capital trials and appeals, delays in the legal process, specific individual cases of injustice and hardship, and the manner in which executions were carried out.40, 18In Hector’s account, the kidnapping was not the result of lax security but rather one element of a broader, coordinated campaign of resistance that had originated in attempts to improve conditions on death row that dated back many months. Cornell Center and Tanzanian Partners Host Workshop on Advocacy and Training on Mental Health. Anthony Ashwood, who estimated that between thirty and thirty-five men were executed during his time on death row in the 1980s, recalled that the cart “have on two wheels and a pure squeaking it make when dem a push it.” He remembered too the graveyard, situated behind the prison kitchen and near to a football pitch, where executed prisoners were laid to rest within sight of those who still awaited their date with the gallows. On Hector’s first night in A Block, the man in the neighbouring cell rapped on the wall, “expressed his condolences” and warned that the warder on duty would “brutalize us” if he heard any noise coming from the cells. Barrett, I. R., “The Ombudsman in Jamaica”, Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era. Francis Kempel S.J. When Mario Hector and Winston Williams were convicted in February 1972, condemned prisoners were held in A block, but four months later death row was moved to an expanded and more secure location on the upper floor of the prison’s Gibraltar Block where twenty-six single-person cells were arranged on either side of a corridor.14 A further three cells were situated adjacent to the death chamber that housed the gallows and used to hold inmates in the days immediately preceding their scheduled execution. This has not, however, led to the resumption of hangings. Along with Eaton Baker, Paul Tyrell, Horace Coates and Everton McFarlane, whose sentences were commuted on the same day, the crime for which Hector was condemned to death had been committed when he was under the age of 18 and he had been sentenced in line with the provisions of a controversial 1948 amendment to Jamaica’s Juvenile Law that prohibited capital punishment only for offenders who were under 18 at the time of sentencing.66 Appeals against the Juvenile Law and the controversy and delays they generated were crucial to the fate of individual prisoners and – more broadly – helped create the conditions that sustained a broader attack on the death penalty throughout the rest of the decade, notably by drawing national and international attention to the law’s capriciousness and fallibility, and contributing to the long delays in enforcing death sentences that allowed for the emergence on death row of a group of radical prisoners united in common cause. He suffered from acute insomnia, regularly envisioned the death cell and spoke of the traumatic cycles of hope and despair that he experienced as, one after another, his dates with death came and went: “We get hope – then it is dashed away – then hope – it is terrible”. Since 2009, capital punishment is legal and executions in Jamaica could resume; however, there have been no executions since. Bailey was called to testify and identified herself as the mother of the accused. 0 Number of Executions in . Appellate proceedings were also facilitated by local shifts in administrative practice and human rights culture, including the extension of legal aid, the formation of the Jamaican Council for Human Rights in 1968 (and the associated work of abolitionist lawyers) and the creation of the office of the ombudsman in 1978 with powers to investigate complaints of “injustice or breaches of human rights” by the state. They also had access to a shower, were granted two visits and could write two letters each week and were allowed into the corridor between their cells for fifteen minute periods of exercise two or three times per week. 28 All figures calculated by author based on dates of sentencing and execution. In due course, the matter was taken once more before the constitutional court, but the Judicial Committee upheld the death sentences, reversing its earlier judgment in. The method of execution is hanging. Though the death penalty remains on the books, there have been no hangings in Jamaica since 1988. Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide, Prison conditions for women facing the death penalty, Conditions de détention des femmes condamnées à mort, A Global Study of Wrongful Death Row Convictions, Une étude mondiale sur les erreurs judiciaires dans les couloirs de la mort, Pathways to Abolition of the Death Penalty, Peine de mort: les sentiers de l’abolition, Representing Individuals Facing the Death Penalty: A Best Practices Manual, La défense de condamnés à mort : Guide de bonnes pratiques à l’usage des avocats, Center organizes groundbreaking pilot training for francophone capital defenders, World Justice Project: Spotlight on "Malawi Resentencing Project". Court records indicate that Gordon’s sentencing was based on entirely inconclusive evidence of his age and a misunderstanding of the law on the part of the judge. There is evidence that similar acts of self-determination occurred on death row in Jamaica in the 1970s. Le présent article – qui se penche sur les événements survenus en Jamaïque dans les années 1970 – ouvre plusieurs perspectives nouvelles sur l’histoire récente de cette peine . 25 What is more, the men who were condemned to death – and in this period they were, with three known exceptions, all men 26 – were more likely than in previous eras to appeal their … Hector spent three years on death row and Williams seven years before their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment by Jamaica’s Governor-General, Florizel Glasspole. See also Highet, Kahale III, Phillips (1994, pp.775-783). Rubin, A. T., “Resistance or friction: understanding the significance of prisoners’ secondary adjustments”, Theoretical Criminology, 2015, 19, 1, pp. The Jamaican government’s Fourth Periodic Report concedes that the death penalty may be applied only if domestic law ensures “the relevant safeguards such as the observance of due process.” 16 Yet the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has criticized Back at the St Catherine District Prison, inmates on death row prepared meticulously to give testimony about the conditions of their incarceration to the Barnett Commission. the execution of a condemned prisoner more than five years after sentencing to be unconstitutional. 4 In its most recent report on the death penalty in the English-speaking Caribbean (ESC), Amnesty International acknowledged that” [i] t is undoubtedly true that die death penalty enjoys popular support across the ESC. Vaz-Green, D., A Passage Through the Valley of Death: the Anthony ‘Fines’ Ashwood Story, Hartford, CT, Green Oasis, 2005. Prisoners were not permitted to wear shoes and were rarely provided with changes of clothes, and then only at the whim of prison guards. 21, n°1 | 2017, mis en ligne le 01 janvier 2019, consulté le 29 décembre 2020. After the jury had returned its verdict, the trial judge sought clarification of Gordon’s age at the time of the murder rather than – as the law required – at the time of the trial. The current law and practice of capital punishment in every country that retains it, including death row and execution numbers, death-eligible crimes, methods of execution, appeals and clemency, availability of lawyers, prison conditions, ratification of international instruments, and recent developments. Death by hanging was the mandatory penalty for murder and the number of death sentences handed down by Jamaican courts each year grew from roughly fourteen in the late 1960s to an average of nearly fifty in the 1970s. He is currently working on a study of the death penalty in British Overseas Territories, University of Leicester - Jmc62@le.ac.uk, Voir la notice dans le catalogue OpenEdition, Plan du site – Crédits – Flux de syndication, Nous adhérons à OpenEdition Journals – Édité avec Lodel – Accès réservé, Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search, The Death Penalty in the Mid-Twentieth Century, Death Row Resistance, Politics and Capital Punishment in 1970s Jamaica. 2018 was a year of many firsts when it came to the death penalty in the Caribbean. 27 The right of appeal in murder cases was introduced in Jamaica in the 1930s, but the appeal process became lengthier after independence, as the new Jamaican Constitution and shifts in British and international death penalty law and practice opened up new avenues for review. On the basis of Jamaica’s experience, further investigation is required of the contributions – direct and indirect, intended and unplanned – that condemned prisoners in all countries made to the advance of the abolitionist cause in this era. After undertaking only cursory enquiries, the committee recommended that no changes should be made. The St Catherine District Prison has housed all condemned male prisoners and been the site of all executions in Jamaica since 1900. See “Court here dissents from Privy Council ruling against death penalty”, Gleaner, 22 August 1970, p. 4. The history of the death penalty in Jamaica, and the wider Anglophone Caribbean since the 1970s has mostly been told by legal scholars who have focused on a series of appeals heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom, which has remained Jamaica’s highest appellate court since independence in 1962. This suggests that Hector’s critical views on the injustice of Jamaican law and the inhumanity of death row were formed during his time under sentence of death, even if his political philosophy likely continued to evolve over later years as he became a leading figure in prison protest movements, engaged with the Jamaica Council for Human Rights and successfully completed O levels and the first stages of a B.Sc. 33In 1977, the Minister of Justice, Carl Rattray, himself a committed advocate of penal reform and abolition of the death penalty, identified the case of Michael Bernard as a key reason why around 2,000 people had signed a JCHR petition calling for an investigation into the use of the death penalty. While Williams’s life was spared, however, the Jamaica Privy Council also in May 1979 issued warrants for the execution of eight other prisoners. There have been times when only a few crimes receive this consequence, while some societies, such as the seventh century B.C.’s Code of Athens required the punishment for all crimes to be death. Plus généralement , cet article rappelle qu’il est toujours aussi important de tenir compte du contexte local de la mise en œuvre comme de l’abolition de la peine de mort, même à une époque qui voit s’accroître au plan international la préoccupation pour les exécutions. As Hector explained, their concern was “how to save our lives by any means necessary” and they believed that they “would have to personally contribute to any relief that might be forthcoming”. B. 20 Murder was the only offence for which the death penalty was imposed in this period. National studies have been overwhelmingly concerned with the United States. After the jury had returned its verdict, the trial judge sought clarification of Gordon’s age at the time of the. Furthermore, prisoners’ resistance was one of the key reasons for the long delays in the execution of death sentences on which anti-death penalty jurisprudence would turn for the next two decades. In return for promises of homes, jobs and protection from the police, criminal dons organised whole communities to support their chosen candidates. JAMAICA last carried out the sentence of death in 1988 on an execution warrant signed by the then Attorney General Oswald Harding QC, OJ. There have been 1,200 murders on the island so far this year. Johnson, D. T. & Zimring, F. E., The Next Frontier: National Development, Political Change, and the Death Penalty in Asia, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009. 420-440. 3 See, for example, Schabas (2002, pp.341-344); Fitzgerald (1996, pp.143-153); Harrington (2004, pp.127-132); Knowles (2004, pp.282-308); Morrison (2006, pp.403-424). There were normally two warders assigned to Gibraltar Block, but on the night in question one was called away to do yard patrols due to staff shortages elsewhere in the prison and this left Warder Clarke alone. They were again soon joined in their action by prisoners in neighbouring cell blocks. At the end of the Debate, Members of Parliament will be requested to give a … 8 July 2020 Jamaica: Now is the time to legislate to give Jamaica’s police oversight mechanisms powers to charge and prosecute Research Jamaica. Most of the men recalled that their first sexual experience occurred before the age of ten, and twenty-six had children, of whom eighteen had more than one child. Indeed, the battles that played out over Jamaican capital punishment in courtrooms in both Kingston and London during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s could not have taken place without the more prosaic conflicts that were fought on death row through coordinated acts of convict resistance. There is now one person on death row, and legal experts are positive that hanging will not be resumed in Jamaica because of the Privy Council's rulings in murder cases and the amendments to Jamaican laws. The Death Penalty Worldwide database recently updated its entry for Jamaica, available here. The average age of the prisoners when they were interviewed was twenty-six, though their average age was just twenty-three at the time of the crimes for which they were sentenced to hang.30 Only five of the men were married (including three who murdered their wives), but many more were in stable relationships and some were visited by girlfriends on death row. 1977, p.8, Lord Salmon advocated for clemency more explicitly a non-capital crime in... Radio news broadcast shortly after lunch on 12 September 1975, p.22 ) death 1970s!, May 1990 jamaican law on death penalty an America ’ s Hill killer hangs self, ”,. Of all executions in Jamaica could resume ; however, prisoners nonetheless deteriorated physically. For 1962-78 in Report of the surrounding executions Country Dossiers Catalogue, 05/03/79... Killer hangs self, ” was used by condemned men was unused due to staff shortages pp.99-100 ) ;,! Of life on the Ombudsman, see barrett ( 1985, p.69 ) that set off resistance across the Gun... 1930S ” on dates of sentencing no longer applies Punishment in the non-capital cases of pp.191-210 ) men recaptured! Moments of humanity among the death row resistance in 1970s Jamaica in four parts identifies death prisoners. Avoid prosecution or even flee Jamaica law Reports ( J.L.R. ’ t abolish the death penalty an... Provided as an apprentice printer and his literacy marked him out from the guards, death! Before he was taken hostage at the point of arrest through a high... 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