jamaican law on death penalty

At the end of the Debate, Members of Parliament will be requested to give a … 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. The law was first reviewed in the case of Maloney Gordon, who was condemned to death in November 1967 for the murder of Andrew Barton in Kingston. Along with men from the general prison population, who they communicated with through ventilators in the prison walls, they formed the Prisoners’ United Liberation League (PULL), an organisation that advocated far-reaching reforms across the Jamaican penal system and within a year claimed to have nearly 400 members, before it was outlawed. Three of the men broke away from their guards and armed themselves as they were transferred from death row to the cells adjacent to the gallows. In this way, Hector was able to send letters to church groups and human rights organisations, including the UN Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty International, which took up his case as part of a broader campaign against the execution of convicts who had been under the age of 18 when they committed their alleged offences. Fr. Prison conditions for women facing the death penalty The system was based on an illegal trade in prison supplies that were stolen by prisoners and then exchanged with corrupt guards in return for contraband, including “stamps and stationary and outgoing letters”.59 The guards would sell the prison supplies on the outside, while the prisoners would trade the contraband amongst themselves, including to death row prisoners, in particular those, like Hector, who were widely believed to be innocent. Inspired by these works, Hector interpreted the circumstances of death row prisoners as an extension of the wider oppression of black and poor people in Jamaica. Knowing they could not win a physical confrontation, they agreed that they would refuse to leave their cells when called out the following morning. 282-308. Prisoners interviewed in 1975 by the Barnett Commission complained bitterly that guards taunted them about their impending hangings and terrifying rumours circulated about the experience of dying on the gallows. The executions were eventually stayed for one week to allow for the Commission to submit an interim report for the consideration of the Governor-General and Privy Council, and then further postponed until the Commission had completed its work. Interviewed in the late-1980s shortly after his death sentence had been reversed on appeal, one prisoner who had entered death row in 1976 commented that, “despite the terrible conditions, most of the men live with hope that their cases will be reviewed and they will not hang”.56 Ashwood likewise spoke of choosing “the way of survival”, though he attributed his hope and faith to the will of God.57 It is nonetheless clear that for many prisoners hope was not based only on faith, or on legal challenges or appeals for clemency that were dependent on outside support and decision-making, but was intimately bound up with their daily struggles for survival on death row. There have been no hangings in Jamaica since 1988 though the death penalty remains on the law books. In a foreword to the book the JCHR described some of Hector’s hypotheses as “difficult to support”, citing as an example his claim that colonialism was responsible for capital punishment. The vote followed weeks of passionate debate. The term “comrade” here indicates identification with the PNP. In addition, Jamaica has eliminated the mandatory death penalty in its laws—the only Jamaican law applying the death penalty is the Offenses Against the Person Act, and as of 2005 it reflects the JCPC’s decision in Watson v. The Queen that the mandatory death penalty is unconstitutional in Jamaica. Hanging was halted following the 1993 landmark Pratt and Morgan ruling by … The men then demanded a meeting with the prison superintendent to outline their grievances, and when that was refused they went on hunger strike. There is a small but powerful sociological and criminological literature on the “living death” endured by prisoners who have been condemned to die. , Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2014. Among prisoners condemned to hang in this period who were eventually put to death, no man spent longer on the row than Thomas Ransford, who was held for more than nine years and three months between his conviction on 30 April 1974 and his execution on 19 July 1983. Hector wrote that the “free flow of letters” was “crucial to the intelligent and calculated struggle for life on the Row”, but access to stationary was heavily restricted and prison guards often blocked communications.58 An informal grapevine involving prisoners who were not on death row consequently became the main link between condemned inmates and the outside world. 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. An enclosed outdoor recreation area reserved for condemned men was unused due to staff shortages.17 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.18 Radios and reading material of any kind were prohibited in the cells, as were all items of personal hygiene. R. v. Martin Wright (1972), 12 J.L.R; Baker v. R. (1975), 13 J.L.R. There have been 1,200 murders on the island so far this year. Francis Kempel S.J. Other expressions of political consciousness were more aligned with Hector’s more radical anti-colonialism, such as when condemned prisoners who were Rastafarians interpreted their conviction and sentence as an attack on their distinctive cultural and religious identity. The last execution in Jamaica was carried out in 1988. 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. 38Mario Hector’s account of his time on death row demonstrates that the culture and law of capital punishment and the origins of anti-death penalty activism in Jamaica are rooted not only in appellate proceedings and the associated campaigning work of national and international lawyers and human rights organisations, but also in events instigated by the many condemned men within the walls of St Catherine District Prison dating back to the early-1970s. Furthermore, a chorus of opposition to the execution of juvenile offenders, which included repeated petitions from Amnesty International, prompted an amendment to the Juvenile law in 1976 such that punishment would thereafter be determined by an offender’s age at the time an offence was committed rather than at sentencing.76 Irrespective of its constitutional merits, imposing the death penalty on juvenile offenders had become politically unacceptable in Jamaica. Murder is now mostly tried as a non-capital crime and in 2016 there was only one prisoner under sentence of death. These developments also made the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council more receptive than in earlier periods to complaints against the death penalty, though it would be several more years before JCPC rulings significantly restricted capital punishment. 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. James Campbell, « Death Row Resistance, Politics and Capital Punishment in 1970s Jamaica », Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies [En ligne], Vol. Hector himself claimed that he appealed his case to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London not because he “hoped to find justice” in what he called “that ancient capital of colonialism”, but rather “to earn some time” in which to develop a plan to reverse his conviction or in some other way to save his life.37 In conjunction with other prisoners on the row, Hector persistently challenged the conditions of his incarceration and his death sentence while his appeal wound its way through the courts. 37In January 1979, four months before Winston Williams left death row, he was joined in the cells by Earl Pratt and Ivan Morgan, men who would spend far longer under sentence of death even than he did. 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. 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. Source: Criminal Investigation Department, Jamaica Annual Abstract of Statistics, 1953 to 1989. At the heart of the analysis is Mario Hector’s own, remarkable account of his life under sentence of death. rather than – as the law required – at the time of the trial. To this end, the prisoners refused to release Clarke until they were permitted to meet with the Prime Minister, Michael Manley, the chairmen of the Jamaica Council of Churches and the Jamaica Council for Human Rights and two journalists. 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. Sinclair’s age was contested and he was sentenced on the basis of a birth certificate presented to the court that showed him to have been born in 1950. 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. Ronnie Thwaites, an attorney for one of the men who was scheduled to be hanged, told the Barnett Commission of Inquiry in 1975 that “the atmosphere at the prison was once again ‘electric’ because of the decision to hang the men”, and the Commissioners voiced their dismay that the executions had been scheduled while their investigations were ongoing. 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. Interviewed after the event, Hector – who served as chief spokesman for the prisoners – explained that it had been necessary to take such action, because the prisoners’ earlier efforts, to “expose the injustices manifested by Judicial administration and [the] inhuman practices in the prison”, had proved unsuccessful.41, 19Hector traced the origins of the resistance campaign against death row conditions to 1972 when prison guards attacked Eaton Baker, one of six young men who had been condemned to die for the November 1969 killing of Warder Reginald Taitt during a riot at Hill Top prison in St Ann’s parish. Schabas, W. A., The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law, Third Edition, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002. 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. Jamaican lawmakers voted 34-15 to retain the death penalty. Amidst high public support for the death penalty, some steps have been taken to remove the legal barriers to the enforcement of capital sentences. The Jamaican case shows, too, that more needs to be done to integrate countries in the Global South into histories of capital punishment – especially its abolition – that to date have overwhelmingly centred on North America and Western Europe. 16 As the number of condemned prisoners increased during the 1970s, other cells had to be used where prisoners slept on bug-ridden mattresses on the floor. Clarke, C., “Politics, violence and drugs in Kingston, Jamaica”, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 2006, 25, 3, pp. (1967), which found that the Constitution did not establish any new rights that were inconsistent with the common law as it had stood when the Constitution was adopted in 1962. did not bring a final resolution to the legal and constitutional questions concerning Jamaica’s death penalty laws and young offenders. 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. In February 1972, Mario Hector and Winston Williams were found guilty in Kingston, Jamaica, of the murder of Nicholas Miller. On the contrary, the Jamaican Court of Appeal repeatedly ignored the judgment over the following years and instead relied on, to support rulings that offenders should only be treated as juveniles if they were under the age of eighteen when sentenced rather than at the time of their offence. Furthermore, a chorus of opposition to the execution of juvenile offenders, which included repeated petitions from Amnesty International, prompted an amendment to the Juvenile law in 1976 such that punishment would thereafter be determined by an offender’s age at the time an offence was committed rather than at sentencing. Cornell Center and Tanzanian Partners Host Workshop on Advocacy and Training on Mental Health. 21, n°1The Death Penalty in the Mid-Twen...Death Row Resistance, Politics an... Les recherches sur la peine de mort contemporaine ont principalement examiné les questions relatives à l’abolition. 66 Hector (1984, pp.99-100); “Bernard will not Hang”, Gleaner, 13 September 1975, p.1. A security guard employed at the First National City Bank, Miller was shot dead on 6 November 1970 in the course of a robbery. 64 “Interim report in prison inquiry on Tuesday”, Gleaner, 30 March 1975, p.2. After the jury had returned its verdict, the trial judge sought clarification of Gordon’s age at the time of the. “All of us were born into a society that was telling us we were free and independent people”, Hector wrote, “but it was a lie: the lie of emancipation”. 31In this light, the efforts by death row prisoners and others to challenge and destabilise the death penalty in the early 1970s appear all the more significant to saving the lives of MacFarlane and the other young prisoners whose sentences were commuted in September 1975. 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. For the first time since Amnesty International began its monitoring in 1979, no new death sentences were known to have been imposed by courts in Trinidad and Tobago, leaving Guyana and the USA as the only countries that imposed such punishment in the Americas. Moreover, his descriptions of prison conditions and acts of resistance are corroborated by other sources, including interviews with other condemned inmates, extensive newspaper reports, legal records, and two major inquiries into capital punishment commissioned by the Jamaican government. Jamaica, saying that the death penalty was “an irrevocable punishment, resulting inevitably in the execution of people innocent of any crime.” 2 In the world as … The men then demanded a meeting with the prison superintendent to outline their grievances, and when that was refused they went on hunger strike. and dismissing Baker and Tyrell’s appeal in a split 3-2 decision announced in May 1975. , delivered by Lord Diplock, the justices declared themselves unwilling to deviate from the literal meaning of Jamaica’s juvenile capital punishment law even while recognising that it could result in “a degree of inequality of punishment between two persons of the same age who committed similar crimes on the same day”, but were tried and sentenced at different times. Record numbers of Jamaican prisoners experienced the stultifying conditions of death row in the 1970s, due in large part to the island’s spiralling murder rate. Jamaica, the death penalty: report of an Amnesty International Mission to Jamaica. 79 Carl Rattray, Cabinet Submission: Capital Punishment, 1B/31/98 – 1977, Jamaica Archives, Spanish Town, Jamaica; “Rattray gets petition on death penalty”, Gleaner, 31 January 1977, p.1. 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. Jamaica currently has nine men on death row. He also alleged that he was beaten repeatedly by police before signing a “confession” that was written without his input and which he was not permitted to read. As much as the physical severity of these conditions, Hector recalled the tedium of life on the row. Declaring that the death penalty is "simply wrong", the Secretary General emphasised that: "I will never stop calling for an end to the death penalty" (United Nations, November 4, 2015). This must involve, in particular, study of prisoners’ everyday struggles to endure life under sentence of death and the intersection of those struggles with legal appeals against individual death sentences and wider political and human rights campaigns against the death penalty. 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. , Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 2003. 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. In return for promises of homes, jobs and protection from the police, criminal dons organised whole communities to support their chosen candidates. Annual Report of the Visiting Committee of the SCDP for 1950, St. Catherine District Prison: correspondence with Wardens and others; minutes of meetings, reports etc. The years that Mario Hector and Winston Williams spent under sentence of death coincided with critical events in the modern history of capital punishment in Jamaica that played a key role in initiating a concerted national and international campaign against executions that involved lawyers, activists, government ministers and members of the public. 10The St Catherine District Prison has housed all condemned male prisoners and been the site of all executions in Jamaica since 1900. After one prisoner was finally coaxed out and beaten, a second tipped over his slop bucket so the warders would have to cross the mess to get at him, and declared that he would die “right there in the filth” rather than leave his cell. 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). 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. Blue notes that historians have paid considerable attention to the transformation of the practice of capital punishment in the United States, tracing the emergence of private, bureaucratized and sanitized killings carried out in electric chairs, gas chambers, and by lethal injection, but they have generally ignored the ways that condemned prisoners, “responded” to what he calls “the emergent killing regimes” of the mid-twentieth century.9 While acknowledging that the condemned prisoners in his study rarely engaged in explicit acts of resistance, Blue argued that they were routinely unwilling to “die on the state’s terms.” Instead, they strived to shape the manner in which they passed their final days and the way in which they died through forging communal bonds based on songs, religion and gallows humour, and sometimes taking their own lives before the executioner could do his work.10, 8There is evidence that similar acts of self-determination occurred on death row in Jamaica in the 1970s. Shortly afterwards, a riot broke out at Tamarind Prison Farm, and, at the General Penitentiary in Kingston – Jamaica’s largest prison, three more warders were seized by inmates and members of a parliamentary sub-committee on crime were sent to negotiate their release. 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. Meanwhile, back in Kingston, hundreds of ordinary citizens signed petitions in support of clemency.60, 24A second example of coordinated prisoner activism in Hector’s autobiography focused on the aftermath of the Warder Clarke kidnapping. Condemned prisoners formed close personal attachments with each other, sang hymns together and, in at least one case, cheated the hangman by committing suicide soon after an execution date was set.11 As Blue argues, these individual and communal assertions of humanity and dignity mattered on their own terms for the condemned, their families and the many state officials involved in the processes of execution. He proposes the term “friction,” as a more accurate definition of behaviours that principally benefit individual prisoners and are not “consciously aimed at undermining the authority of the prison regime.” Rubin stresses that there is no binary opposition between friction and resistance. 143-154. At about midnight, Clarke attended one of the prisoners who had called for some water and he was seized as soon as he stepped into the death row corridor. This position was established in the non-capital cases of. 191-210. In terms of occupational status, thirty-one men were described in the report as “unskilled” and most had jobs that were “sporadic” and “seasonal” and provided a low and irregular income.31 Mario Hector’s pre-conviction employment as an apprentice printer and his literacy marked him out from the majority of condemned prisoners. This challenges accounts that depict the de facto moratorium on executions that has been in place across much of the Anglophone Caribbean since the early-1990s as a form of neo-colonialism imposed by British and other international courts and at odds with local public opinion, law and penal culture. A second example of coordinated prisoner activism in Hector’s autobiography focused on the aftermath of the Warder Clarke kidnapping. That executions should be made Jamaican Constitution, which guards against double jeopardy,... [ 1975 ], UKPC 22, Minority judgment, 11 anticipating violent repercussions the! 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