President David A. Granger has announced that the government intends to, on an annual basis, grant presidential pardons to prisoners, who were sentenced for minor misdemeanors (non-violent crimes.)
During a special interview at the Ministry of the Presidency with a section of the media today, President Granger disclosed that tomorrow, Independence Day, the new administration will begin pardoning of 60 convicts, between the ages of 18 to 25.
“I believe that young people should be in school, not in jail, and I have asked that emphasis be placed on young persons, and for petty non-violent offenses, and sentences of short duration,” the President said.
“Sometimes a man (is) in jail for stealing a cell phone, go your way and sin no more…,” he said, adding that the offences are ‘really petty’, and the offenders ‘pretty young.’
“I hope they get back in school, get work, and get on with their lives. They do not belong in jail. They belong in school, at home with their families, be happy,” the President said.
He clarified that at first he particularly asked for pardons for especially female convicts, “but apparently the females have not been misbehaving at the same rate as the males.”
The President also explained that “it turns out that there is a small number of females too who had actually committed minor offences.”
Questionsed about concerns that will be raised over why no reintegration programme for those who will be pardoned, President Granger said, “Most of them are young, most of them are misdemeanors, which are non-violent, and I do hope that we can reintegrate them by ensuring that we get them training programmes.” He noted however, “…the longer they stay in prison, the more difficult it would be to rehabilitate them.”
President Granger was also asked about Former President Donald Ramotar’s pardon of Ravindra Deo, who was convicted for the murder of a child, Vishnu Bhim, which was committed 21 years ago at La Bonne Intention (LBI). His response was, “There is nothing in the constitution that prevents him, but there should be something in his conscience which should have told him that this is not the way to go,” the President said.
He noted that with the new APNU+AFC administration’s annual amnesty, consideration will not be given to persons who have been convicted for crimes of violence. (GINA)