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Govt to toughen penalties for smuggling into prisons

Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley is hopeful new legislation stiffening penalties for smuggling cellphones and other contraband into prisons and the new mechanism for ‘cash back for communities’ will be passed during this Parliamentary Session.

The legislation tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday includes the Prison Amendment Act 2013 which defines “prohibited, high-rush items “ and penalties for bringing them into any prison.

The list includes cell phones or “any parts of one”, controlled drugs, firearms, including an imitation firearm or offensive weapons.

The Bill increases the term of imprisonment from six months to 12 months and increases the fine from $500 to $2,000. Convictions on indictment will carry an increased penalty from 12 months up to two years.

Punishment on summary conviction will carry a two-year prison term or a fine of $3,000 or both. Punishment on conviction on indictment carries a three-year sentence.

The Proceeds of Crime Amendment 2013 facilitates the transfer of funds paid into the Confiscated Assets Fund to be disbursed in support of “the objectives of community-based organisations and sports clubs”.

It is the new mechanism to use the proceeds of crime to improve community based organisations or clubs “that are related to youth development, sport, area improvement, community improvement or infrastructure improvement”.

The law also stipulates that the organisations must be registered as a charity under the Charities Act 1978. And sport clubs are defined as organisations dedicated to “a particular sporting activity which is regulated by a sport governing body in Bermuda”.

If passed, the legislation clears the way for organisations to receive funds from the Confiscated Assets Fund, “on the approval of the Minister responsible for legal affairs and the Minister of Finance”.

A spokesman said: “The criteria for clubs and organisations to receive funds will be circulated and the onus will be on them to seek funding. It is intended to be passed this Session.”

In a Ministerial statement on Friday, the Minister said: “Strong policy initiatives require a strong legislative foundation. This Government is working hard every day on making Bermuda safer.”

The Minister also tabled the Firearms Amendment Act 2013, a special piece of legislation designed to facilitate shooting events in the upcoming Island Games to be hosted by Bermuda in July.

The amendment is geared solely for “persons taking part in sanctioned shooting competitions to import firearms and to use ammunition in connection with such shooting competitions”.

It also carries stipulations for temporary licences to be granted in connection with sanctioned shooting competitions for firearms and ammunition.

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Published May 23, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 22, 2013 at 11:57 pm)

Govt to toughen penalties for smuggling into prisons

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