Lawyer rejects call for mandatory sentences

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A well-known lawyer disagrees with Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s threat of mandatory sentences for criminals convicted of gun crimes. Browne made this pronouncement following last weekends fatal drive-by shooting. Ralph Francis, attorney at law, on Thursday, speaking on Voice of the People, responded to the declarations made by the prime minister.
“I am against mandatory sentences. The Prime Minister spoke about going to parliament to impose mandatory sentences. Every situation is not the same and depending on the circumstances, a magistrate or judge would impose a sentence,” Francis said.
“I profoundly disagreed when at one point parliament went and took away the power of the magistrates and the police to grant bail in certain circumstances. I believe that was a mistake. There is no way that the magistrate and police should be limited in their ability to grant bail.”
He went on to give an example of a man entering the home of a licence firearm holder and another member of the household picking up that firearm and shooting or killing the intruder. Francis pointed out that according to the law, that person has committed a crime because he/she did not have a licence to use that gun and that person is therefore, open to prosecution.
Francis adamantly stated that such a situation should notresult in the shooter being prosecuted for protecting himself/herself.
He contended that the law should take each case on its own merit. Rolston Pompey, former Commissioner of Police, also weighed in on the conversation and pointed out that very harsh sentences are already on the books but are not being enforced.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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