Justice Minister: Full Budget Statement

February 21, 2011

Attorney General and Justice Minister Michael Scott said ongoing initiatives to modernise Bermuda’s judicial structure as well as a wide range of rehabilitation and treatment programmes would continue despite “prudent” reductions under the 2011/2012 Budget.

Speaking at a press conference following the Budget statement [Feb. 18], the Attorney General said his Ministry would ensure the “scales of justice are balanced” — with equal emphasis being placed on a strong criminal justice system to continue the war against crime in Bermuda and appropriate remedial steps to reintegrate offenders back into society. The Ministry budget for fiscal year 2011/12 is $54,200,550 for current account expenditure and $871,298 for capital account expenditure.

The Minister’s full remarks follow below:

Good afternoon. The long-term stability and prosperity of our community is dependent on our collective ability to motivate citizens of all ages to do better and to do more to achieve this common purpose.

The Ministry of Justice mandate requires us to appropriately balance the fair and proper administration of justice; the rehabilitation of offenders and the delivery of prevention and treatment programmes. The successful discharge of this mandate is essential to the maintenance of law and order and, consequently, to the stability of our community.

The new, integrated approach that characterises this administration is reflected in the reconfiguration of the Ministry of Justice to include the Department of Corrections, Court Services and National Drug Control. This reconfiguration, coupled with the review of expenditure, has highlighted the importance of developing a practical, realistic approach to the delivery of services and programmes.

The Ministry budget for fiscal 2011/12 of $54,200,550 for current account expenditure and $871,298 for capital account expenditure demonstrates prudent reductions that support the assessment and re-alignment of projects and programmes and the retention of the human resources necessary for their implementation. During the upcoming fiscal year, management accountability within the Ministry will be a key component of our business model as we embark upon the process of reshaping our mission to reflect the needs of a modern society faced with challenges that require bold, proactive measures and leadership.

Whilst funding has been allocated to support rehabilitation and treatment programmes and to enhance community awareness, to adopt the words of the Hon. Premier, it will not be “business as usual”. Success will be redefined to shift the focus from the amount of funding and number of programmes and will be measured by the self-determination of individuals who enter the justice system to do better and to do more to become productive, law-abiding members of our community. This self-determination, coupled with transformational programmes aimed at facilitating the successful re-integration of offenders into society, will have the greatest impact on reducing the rate of recidivism.

A considered, phased approach will characterise the introduction of new initiatives as we look to the future and modernise our operations Ministry-wide. In particular, with regard to the Department of Corrections, security has been targeted for review with the aim of introducing stricter measures to prevent illegal drugs from being brought into the prisons. A comprehensive review of more efficient energy models for Corrections facilities will also be undertaken during this fiscal period to achieve future cost savings.

Expenditure for programmes and grants has been reduced and selected programmes discontinued as we aim to indentify the best and most cost effective options for delivery of treatment and rehabilitation services. This will be accomplished through the assessment and re-alignment of existing programmes and funding in the Department of Corrections, Court Services and National Drug Control as their respective Heads collaborate, network and strategise to employ best practices. As a complement to this collaborative effort, funding has been allocated for psychologists who will evaluate the delivery of existing programmes in our Corrections facilities and identify alternative models where necessary. Entrepreneurial programmes will be increased so that inmates will be able to build the financial foundation required for independent living upon their re-integration into society.

Access to justice for all citizens will be maintained within the proposed new framework for the grant of legal aid which will be funded with a reduced budget allocation. This allocation will be supported by the legislative and operational reforms necessary to ensure the financial sustainability of the legal aid program during the upcoming fiscal year and in the future.

Modernisation of the judicial infrastructure will continue with the allocation of funding for the Judiciary to provide the services and support necessary to carry out the adjudication of charges of criminal conduct and the resolution of disputes fairly, justly and expeditiously. Thus, resources will be applied to complete the installation of the Judicial Enforcement Management System and to reduce the backlog of family matters in the Magistrates’ Court. Funding will also enable staff to receive training to deliver better customer service and manage conflict with respect to financial transactions.

Notwithstanding the allocation of funding for the rehabilitation and treatment of offenders, the scales of justice are balanced and our criminal justice system remains strong in the war against crime. Consequently, funding has been allocated to allow the further development of the Witness Care Unit to provide an improved and more comprehensive standard of care in Supreme Court and Magistrates’ Court cases. In addition, the successful prosecution of criminal offences will be further enhanced by the commencement of the witness protection programme, particularly with respect to gang related and firearms offences.

As we prepare ourselves to do better and more with less, we do so with an optimism characterised not only by hope, but conviction that we will collectively achieve our common purpose of stability and prosperity in our community.

Thank you.

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Comments (2)

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  1. 32n64w says:

    Sure are a lot of buzzwords here:

    “collective ability”

    “reconfiguration”

    “assessment and re-alignment”

    “reshaping our mission”

    “transformational programmes”

    “self-determination”

    “A considered, phased approach”

    “comprehensive review”

    “more efficient energy models”

    “collaborate, network and strategise to employ best practices”

    “identify alternative models”

    “the scales of justice are balanced”

    … and the closing nugget of wisdom:

    “As we prepare ourselves to do better and more with less, we do so with an optimism characterised not only by hope, but conviction that we will collectively achieve our common purpose of stability and prosperity in our community.”

    For a budget of +$50m there is virtually nothing of specific significance in the Minister’s above statement other than confirming the consolidation of various departments & the corresponding amount budgeted to the Ministry.

    The Premier remarked that individual Ministers would be responsible for discussion of the specific details concerning their respective budgets. If this verbiage is supposed to pass as “discussion” its no wonder we’re so far in the hole as these remarks are unfortunately not reflective of “bold, proactive measures and leadership.”

  2. Triangle Drifter says:

    Whatever happened to ‘proceeds of crime’ legislation? JMO, but maybe the bad guys should pay more for the justice system they use.

    Confiscate their assets. Sell off their bling, their cars, their boats, their houses, anything they own to offset their court costs at taxpayer expense & prison accomodation.