Stiffer Penalties For Gun-Related Crimes

Ahreefa Bacchus, Journalist
February 08, 2019 3:37 pm AST
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Chairman of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and aspiring Premier, Hon. Myron Walwyn last night, February 7, announced that if elected, his party intends to explore stiffer penalties for gun-related crimes.

This statement comes days after the shooting death of 34 year-old Erran Charles in Huntum’s Ghut.

“One murder in our country is one too many,” Hon. Walwyn stated, adding, “As a society, we must show our absolute contempt for this kind of conduct in our community.”

Addressing a large gathering in District Six, he said, “We will look particularly at gun-related crimes with a view of stiffening the penalties even more so that persons with illegal guns will think twice or three times before they either have in possession an illegal firearm, or use it in the furtherance of illegal activity.”

Last year, the Territory recorded six murders and all of those were shooting deaths.

The Chairman reminded that escalating criminal activities can be detrimental to any society, telling those gathered, “Nothing kills an economy quicker than criminal activity, and so this NDP government will continue to support the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force in every way possible so that they are properly armed with all the resources that they need to protect life and property.”

Continuing on the topic of law and order, Hon. Walwyn committed to having the archaic marijuana laws reviewed, with the intention of reducing the presence of young people in prison.

Rehabilitation and Reintegration

Hon. Walwyn in his ministerial portfolio also has oversight of the prisons. He is of the firm belief that “the education system has a role to play in the reduction of criminal activity.”

“We have seen negative behavior manifest in our young people, particularly our young men, who have challenges in traditional learning setting,” he stated.

He related that efforts in this regard are being made at Her Majesty’s Prison at Balsam Ghut to have prisoner’s rehabilitated by providing them with an education.

The Education Minister reminded that there are currently full time teachers at Balsam Ghut offering classes to inmates, adding that there are also some prisoners who have enrolled in his newly implemented Virgin Islands High School Certification Programme.

When these inmates have completed their time, Hon. Walwyn said efforts will be made to ensure their smooth transition and reintegration into society.

“Justice must also be tempered with mercy, so even though our people may fall foul of the law and find themselves incarcerated…they are still our people and we must do all that we can to get them back on the right track,” he emphasised.

As such, he said he will establish a partnership with civil society organisations to help the former inmates find employment, and will provide the necessary funding to ensure that this happens.

“I am calling on the private sector to give these individuals, once released, a fair opportunity for jobs. The Government must also lead by example,” he stated.
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