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Justice system improvements attract praise and questions

Opposition Senator Michael Dunkley has praised efforts by the Government to streamline the Justice system, but questioned the efficiency of in-prison rehabilitation programmes.

Speaking on Friday at the debate in Senate regarding the Justice Department's 2011-12 budget, the Shadow Labour Minister said he hoped Government could get information about the success rate of various programmes.

“I have heard too many stories in the past about these courses being ineffective,” he said. “We need to make sure that the programmes are done in full and that there is some success. Otherwise, that's just setting ourselves up for failure.”

He also said he had been told that some inmates ordered by the courts to undergo specific rehabilitation programmes are released before they can complete them.

Senator Kim Wilson, who led the debate, did not have time to answer questions posed by Sen Dunkley, but assured him that she would respond in writing.

Detailing the budget, Sen Wilson said the Ministry has successfully reduced the backlog of cases still to appear before the Supreme Court, and would soon put forward legislation intended to streamline the legal aid system.

She also noted that teleconferencing systems have been installed in the courts allowing defendants to take part in some court proceedings without being transported to the courts.

“This will allow for video conferencing between the courts and the correctional facilities,” Ms Wilson said. “Gone are the days where we have a parade of vehicles carrying people to court for arraignments.”

She also told the Senate that a Court Smart system has been installed in the courts, allowing for accurate and detailed transcripts of proceedings.

“Heretofore it was handwritten notes by the judge or magistrate which can be a little slow.”

She noted the success of the Department of Public Prosecutions, noting the increase in major cases appearing in court in the last year, and the work of National Drug Control in both their treatment and preventative efforts.

“Prevention is cheaper than a cure,” she said.

In a brief response, Sen Dunkley said he was interested to hear more about efforts to improve the court system, but stressed that more needs to be done to deal with Bermuda's drug problem.

“We need to also focus on prevention but we have a huge problem in our hands and we need to do what we can to try to get people off the troubled path,” he said.

Noting the budget cuts to several organisations such as the Family Centre and the Salvation Army, Sen Dunkley he hoped to hear that Government could change its mind later in the year and give them more support should they require it.

Senator Michael Dunkley

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Published March 28, 2011 at 10:24 am (Updated March 28, 2011 at 10:24 am)

Justice system improvements attract praise and questions

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