Thursday 22 August, 2019

A view from the outside: We want justice

Orville ‘Bull’ Scarlett

Orville ‘Bull’ Scarlett

                                                                  With Karyl Walker


I don’t want no peace: I want equal rights and justice – Peter Tosh


The popular sentiment ringing out of the community of Linton Park in Watt Town, St Ann following the crazed mob killing of Orville ‘Bull’ Scarlett last week is that the residents took matters into their own hands because they were not convinced that justice would have been delivered to the murder accused swiftly and aptly enough.

Scarlett was accused of hacking to death his ex-lover Alesha Francis and her 10-year-old son, Teco Jackson. Another child was also chopped and seriously injured. Only Francis’ 6-year-old daughter managed to escape unharmed after she ran into a yard to escape the crazed Bull.

Enraged community members, despite pleas and warnings from the police, took matters into their own hands and exacted vigilante justice on Scarlett, inflicting multiple chop wounds until life departed his body.

“We watch the news and we see so many families a suffer when di man dem kill dem people (relatives) and all dem do a plea guilty and end up get not even 10 years (sometimes). Bull (Orville Scarlett) maybe would a plea guilty and get less time in jail fi kill di woman and har child, so right now me personally glad it end di way it end. Many people up deh (in Linton Park) happy too. No little sentence fi tek two lives or no lengthy wait,” one resident told Loop News.

The above quote is a popular sentiment that rings throughout the entire island. People are tired of the criminal minded among us, perpetrating heinous crimes and, due to inadequacies in our justice system, they seem to get off lightly if at all they are apprehended and brought before the courts.

In Jamaica it takes years for a trial to begin, time enough for witnesses to get frustrated and give up on turning up to court, grieving relatives and friends to throw in the towel in despair that their wronged loved one will never get justice or for the perpetrators to arrange for the mysterious disappearances of those whose evidence can seal their fate.

In a bid to reduce the backlog in the severely overburdened court system, the state has moved to implement a sentence reduction initiative. This system allows for those accused to get a reduced sentence if they cop a guilty plea and save the judicial system precious time and money. While this move is one pointed in the right direction in terms of clearing up cases, it has also proven to be a double-edged sword.

Those among us with evil intent can simply hatch a plot to commit a series of cold-blooded crimes and plead guilty if and when they are caught, spend less than one third of the time they should justly stay incarcerated and be back out on the streets in time to resume where they left off.

Incarceration is a deterrent for some of us, but many hardened criminals see it as an opportunity to get three free meals a day, all paid for with the taxes collected from the loved ones of the victims whose lives they stole.

If we are not going to impose the death penalty, which is a part of our legislation, then as a country, we should at least make incarceration so harrowing for the offender, that even a reduced sentenced won’t be viewed as a holiday by the criminal minded and will certainly serve as a deterrent for recidivists.

Mob killings similar to the one which took the life of Orville ‘Bull’ Scarlett are reprehensible. No matter how horrible the crime that an individual is accused of doing, that person deserves to be brought before the courts and given a fair trial. After all, an accused man is innocent until proven guilty and the burden of proof always lies on the prosecution. The problem is that many in the Jamaican population, especially those on the lower rungs of the social and economic ladder, are convinced that there is no justice to be had in the courts and as such are willing to take matters into their own hands.

Police statistics have indicated over the years, that even though the country suffers from a ridiculously high murder rate, a great portion of those murders are acts of reprisal.

As a country, we need to up our game and ensure that justice is swift and sure. If we do not, then mob killings such as that which grotesquely claimed the life of Orville ‘Bull’ Scarlett, will only increase.

The people are sick of it and want justice. Jamaica owes it to her citizens to give them just that or suffer the consequences.

That is my view from the outside.

Karyl Walker is a multi-award-winning journalist who has worked for Loop Jamaica, the Jamaica Observer, the RJR Communications Group and Nationwide Radio among other media entities. He now resides in South Florida.

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