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Judicial CP - August 2005

Corpun file 16325

Nassau Guardian, 10 August 2005


Bring back the cat?

In a guest commentary published in The Freeport News on Monday, Chesney M. Rigby, a Grand Bahama businessman, makes a suggestion that some Bahamians would denounce as being harsh and barbaric.

Mr. Rigby's suggestions was triggered by two incidents that occurred during the recent "Feel The Rush" Junkanoo parade held in Freeport, one being a fight that erupted in the bleachers and the other a "situation where a villain had a gun and was running through the crowd while an officer was in hot pursuit with his gun unholstered."

"In my humble opinion, I think it is high time that we bring the full brunt of the law down on these individuals," Mr. Rigby noted. "In cases where the law is obviously too soft, our leaders must address and legislate new laws that will cause these orderless few to feel the rush."

Those new laws, in his view, should include the reintroduction of flogging with the cat-o-nine tails, a suggestion that has been put forth on more than one occasion by others as a means of sending the strongest possible message to criminals in our society that enough is enough and their reckless disregard for the laws of this country will no longer be tolerated.

"There is no rationale for allowing criminals to continuously rape law-abiding citizens of their rights, make a mockery of the judiciary system and attend taxpayers' supported crime advancement seminars in Fox Hill," Mr. Rigby reasoned. "I firmly believe that if the cat-o-nine tails were reintroduced to these villains when they enter the prison and upon leaving, the recidivism rate would drop remarkably; subsequently we would have a better society."

Any attempt by the Government to act positively on Mr. Rigby's suggestion would most certainly draw an avalanche of protest from Amnesty International and human rights activists, but their protestations notwithstanding, Mr. Rigby's suggestion could have merit.

True, punishment with the cat-o-nine tails is particularly distasteful to black people because it is a reminder of an evil practice during the days of slavery when flogging was the favourite method of punishment used by the slave masters, but the high level of crime that exists in our communities and the seemingly uncontrollable urge of young people – particularly young males – to engage in random violence have created a drastic situation in this country that requires a drastic solution.

This sort of punishment, of course, should only be utilised in extreme cases where there are compelling reasons to conclude that other efforts at redirecting the lives of young persons who repeatedly engage in criminal activities are proving to be ineffective.

Granted, many of those who took a wrong turn at a crossroad in their youthful lives and embarked on a life of crime can be salvaged and redirected into being productive citizens. Every effort should be made to help them turn their lives around, but those who persist in being perennial trouble makers and resist efforts to help them should be dealt with accordingly.

Copyright 2005 The Nassau Guardian. All rights reserved.

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