For a moment I thought that I finally had something to be optimistic about after reading an article in a local publication which highlighted the downward trend in the prison population in Trinidad and tobago.
In fact the article went on to make the anticipated comparisons with other countries that were not doing as well. Actually, the article cited an increase in world-wide prison population.
The United States according to the article, has the highest prison population rate in the world (738 per 100.000), followed by Russia (611) then St. Kitts and Nevis (547). Finally, I thought, finally, we are better at something than our patron saint, the United States. I am pumped.
How did we do it? Are we becoming more judicially compassionate as a society? Are our Penal institutions becoming rehabilitative moreso than punitive? The adrenalin is really flowing, I sensed that one of our ministries is actually embracing policies that are of benefit to the larger society.
In Trinidad and Tobago this is newsworthy, because the results are worthy of mention. Good news is so rare, here.
I rise to call relatives and friends who do not have access to computers and emails to share with them; the good news. Vision 2020 I thought, this is a step in the right direction. There is so much news to share. And then my mind stumbles back to the news of an elderly couple beaten to death in their Cascade home yesterday.
A sense of unease is upon me, it dampens my enthusiasm as I realize that the reason for the decline in our prison population has absolutely nothing to do with administrative efficiency. It has nothing to do with judicial and societal compassion relating to rehabilitation.
Oup prision population will continue to decrease because the criminals at all levels in our society are outside looking in at the few that are successfully prosecuted and imprisoned, and that is as a result of a government that has lost its way in dealing with crime and criminals. Which begs the question, who do they represent, us (law-abiding citizens) or them (the criminal element)?
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