Bill Tabled: Increase Prison Time For Gang Members

June 22, 2012

The island’s gang members can expect to face additional prison time when convicted of committing crimes as part of unlawful gang activity, with a new bill making provision for increased penalties.

Minister of National Security Wayne Perinchief tabled the Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2012 [PDF] in the House of Assembly this morning [June 22], which makes provision for additional sentences where crimes are proved to be committed as part of unlawful gang activity.

“These additional sentencing powers will provide the Courts with the ability to properly reflect the public sentiment surrounding the negative effects of such crimes on this community,” said the Minister.

“No level of the criminal enterprise is spared as the Bill deliberately captures those who, in some cases quite literally, “call the shots”. The message is clear: strong enforcement, swift justice, stiff penalties.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will recall that in February of this year I set out for this Honourable House and the public, the path this Government would take to reverse the destructive influence of the gang lifestyle in this community.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise Honourable Members that today, this Government delivers on two further key aspects of those promises. I will table the Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2012 which makes provision for additional sentences where crimes are proved to be committed as part of unlawful gang activity.

Mr. Speaker, these additional sentencing powers will provide the Courts with the ability to properly reflect the public sentiment surrounding the negative effects of such crimes on this community.

Mr. Speaker, no level of the criminal enterprise is spared as the Bill deliberately captures those who, in some cases quite literally, “call the shots”. The message is clear: strong enforcement, swift justice, stiff penalties.

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, I concur with the Commissioner of Police when he says “we cannot arrest our way out of this problem”. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, this Government is also poised to deliver on its promise to devote equal energy to the preventative and helping side of the equation. Mr. Speaker, we match enforcement with prevention.

Honourable Members will have seen the announcement of the “Respect!” Campaign. Mr. Speaker, as indicated in my remarks yesterday, the promotion of this basic concept of human behaviour is designed to reinforce one of the fundamental tenets of strong communities. Using simple but powerful images, our young people will be inspired and reminded to respect our seniors; to respect their communities and most importantly, to respect each other.

Mr. Speaker, a key element of this campaign is to engender a renewed level of respect around sport and sports clubs. We must support the executives of these clubs who, in the main, work extremely hard to make their facilities family-oriented and community based.

Mr. Speaker, this Government promised gang mediation. We embraced this concept because a path out of the gang lifestyle must be provided. We cannot consign a generation of this country’s citizens to the criminal justice system and its natural conclusion of incarceration. Where there is even a glimmer of desire to make lifestyle change we must harness it and encourage that change.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise this Honourable House that a team from Boston’s Street Safe Programme arrive in Bermuda this weekend and for the coming week will conduct intensive training of the first wave of those who would form the backbone of the gang mediation initiative.

Mr. Speaker, close to 30 men and women will spend four days receiving best practice instructions from a team whose track record is enviable and who come well equipped to provide the platform for our local success. This has been achieved with cross-ministry support and at the end of the week I will be joined by the Honourable Premier and other Ministerial colleagues to provide an overview of what I expect will be a successful week’s intensive work.

Mr. Speaker, effecting change in this area is not easy. We have consulted widely, culled together key elements of various agencies and committed to delivering on what we promised the people of Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker, change is being seen in various areas. Citizens are more engaged in keeping communities safe and supporting the Police. Those who commit crime have endured strong enforcement, swift justice and stiffer penalties. Individuals who have determined that the gang lifestyle is the wrong choice will now be provided with an opportunity to exit and meaningfully contribute to this society.

Mr. Speaker, this Government promised change in this area and change is what we continue to deliver.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (19)

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  1. Come Correct says:

    Ok...now you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that theyre a gang member, im sure guilty by association wont cut it, then again who knows with this leal system.

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    • andre says:

      I agree! Why do they think legislation will fix this problem?!?

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    • Judgement says:

      It's a step in the right direction one important part of this that seriously needed th be followed is "where crimes are PROVED to be committed as part of unlawful gang activity" Most of us know what we consider as gang activity but hopefully the law is straight forward and actually states/refers to exactly what is considered as gang activity so nothing is assumed by anyone

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  2. Realist says:

    Move in the right direction.

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  3. Eyes Wide Open says:

    Excellent! Well Done Perinchief!

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  4. Wow says:

    Wow increase prison time for being in a gang.

    The only thing you need to do is turn the whole prison in to MAX. Lock their sorry a$$ up all day. 1 hour for rec and slide their food under the door. These guys eat better then the men that go to the Salvation Army for food! The place is a joke, no one is scared to do time anymore with a nice cell you have all to yourself.

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    • Judgement says:

      Westgate may not be as bad as some prisons in other parts of the world but dont be fooled in thinking that it is a nice place.Fyi believe it or not there are some other prisons in the world that are actually better than Westgate that have a lower repeat offender % and the prisoners don't like and don't want to be there

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  5. Rory says:

    How does one determine if one is a gangmember?

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    • tricks are for kids.. says:

      @ Rory I am wondering this myself......are these guys confessing to be in gangs? (at last check NO). As mentioned above in a previous post
      'Guilt by association' doesn't cut it....If I'm seen in a photograph with an ALLEGED gang member or I am seen talking to an ALLEGED gang member does that MAKE me a gang member????? While this may seem to be a good idea.....if not thought out fully it can leave room for lots of loopholes that can be challenged....

      If ALL bases are covered and no stone left unturned this may work.......anything is possible....

      I applaud Minister Perenchief though for the time and effort that he is putting in..........................

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    • Judgement says:

      Correct me if I am wrong I thought the tabled law targets proven gang activity not a crime committed by someone who is labelled a gang member

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  6. street wise says:

    It is well known that increasing penalties has no real effect on crime. With regard to our gangs, we need to look at the much deeper 'social issues' that contribute to gang life in the first place. They include, amongst others, staying in school and getting a good education, enlightened parenting from birth (whether with one or two parents) and the issues surrounding latch-key kids.

    Nevertheless, local gang activity seems to have fallen off recently. Thanks to better policing, Island-wide video surveillance, and other initiatives. Well done lads.

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  7. One Sided Solution says:

    Tougher laws are one sided and thats why states like Texas and California are forced to release prisoners by federal demand due to overcrowdedness or most do about 60% of their time. Knowing that our local prisons are already at 85% capacity and we pay over 80K per prisoner per year, I hope that someone within the Nationals Security or Justice is thinking about promoting some policies to ensure rehabilitation/ reduction of recidivism/from jail to work programmes. We don't have money to build a new prison and we need to make sure those who are locked up learn from the experience and contribute to paying for their stay. Somehow we must work to determine the reason why gangs are so enticing for young people and start working on solutions from that point in conjunction to the bill tabled above.

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  8. Family Man says:

    Just another poorly drafted law by the qlq.

    But then, an election is coming, so they need to be seen to be doing something.

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  9. M.P.Mountbatten JP says:

    But members of the lawful gang get away with all sorts of crap ; like encroaching development on open and shrinking marshland that's important to the wider communities ecosystem .Lawful gangs are very selfish and display destructive and antisocial behavior as well .

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  10. Making sense... says:

    @ Onesided Solution...LIKE. Trouble is no-one is thinking things through.

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  11. Disgusted says:

    Really? You have to get a jury to convict them first! Be they will find another spot! Educate our children PLP

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