Located in the Eastern part of Haiti, Jamaica is a country that is well known for its popularity in reggae music. Beings an island in the Caribbean, Jamaica is a small country with a population of nearly three million people. Nearly a third of the population resides in the capital city of Jamaica which is referred to as Kingston. Despite having the rate of crime high as a result of drug abuse by most of the young population, the country has been politically stable for a long time. However, drug abuse has been a major problem affecting the majority of the population. This is proved by the fact that despite the country being democratic; it has only two political parties. This indicates that the people are contented by the authority and the way in which they are governed.
Crime rate in Jamaica has been on the rise over the years. This has been partly aided by the major loopholes that are present in the justice system. In addition the use of drugs and the high rate of unemployment that is the main problem in the country. The common law is the form of justice system that is practiced in the Caribbean Island of Jamaica. The common law can be defined as the legal system in which law is developed as a result of agreement between judges. According to these laws, any decisions and rulings that are made upon a case, the same judgment will be taken on similar cases in future. According to the law, it prevents taking different decisions and judgment to be taken on similar cases (Laurence 2006).
There are several advantages of common law. Firstly is that it ensures that there is equity among all the citizens. This is ensured by the fact that there is fairness in the legal laws and principles used to judge the people. According to this principle, despite the power or position of an individual is enough to prevent him from receiving fair justice treatment. In addition, the system is efficient if the framework laid is properly followed. This is because there is already a legal framework that has been set and it is meant to judge the cases with fairness. Similar forms of law breaking are judged with equal penalty. This implies that therefore, there are no people who are treated as superior than others.
However, as no system is perfect, the system has several disadvantages. Firstly, due to the rigidity of the system once a decision on a case has been decided, no changes can be made. This implies that in an event that a bad decision has been carried out, it will continue to be truncated to similar cases. This will thus deny people fair justice. In addition, records are needed to be followed so to check on how previous cases were ruled so as to come with judgment.
The justice system in the country has not been efficient over the years. It has been hampered by corruption therefore it has not been effective over the years in delivering justice t o the people. There are other factors that have also hampered the effectiveness of the justice system in Jamaica. Firstly, the public have no adequate access to the justice system. The ratio of the courts and judges in comparison to the number of the citizens is far much inadequate. Therefore this has resulted in the slowing down of the justice cases. It takes a lot of time for people to receive judgment once they are arrested. On the same note lack of knowledge of the justice system by the public has been much of a challenge. As a result, the citizens lack the necessary knowledge of their obligations regarding their rights they do not receive justice as required by the law. In case also there is a breach of their rights by the government, they cannot fight for their rights.
The government on its part applies no effort in trying to offer legal education to the citizens. As a result of the poor services offered by the justice system the citizens have lost faith in the system. This poses a great danger because the people cannot obey what they do not trust. In addition because of the big gap between the poor and the rich, most of the poor population has a feeling that justice is not available to the poor. This is partly aided by the fact that the corruption level is high in the government and in the private sector. The capacity therefore for the justice system in Jamaica to offer the required justice to the people is thus wanting. As a result, there have been changes in the system and attempts by the government to overhaul the justice system (Wesson 2002).
The judicial system of the Jamaica is based majorly on the cultural back ground of the people and what they refer to as right or wrong. This is bearing in mind that one of the most imperative factors to consider when formulating the laws to govern the people, the advocates must bear in mind the values, customs and the norms of the affected society must be taken into account (Jerry2001). The Jamaican culture is characterized by the feelings of the presence of Supernatural being who demands justice especially for the less fortunate members of the society. This is deeply rooted to the kind of the songs that are expressed by the Jamaican musicians. For that reason, the aspect of morality must be present for the laws to be accepted by the society in Jamaica.
There are various types of punishment that have been stipulated in the constitution of Jamaica. Punishment is said to be the key feature of penology. According to Kant (1999), the punishment is given for the purpose of administering justice for the offended and preventing the occurrence of such behaviors in future. One of the most common forms of punishment in the Jamaican legal system is imprisonment. This is meant to restrict the movement of the people who are found to have committed crime. The number of days or years that the offender is expected to stay in jail is determined by the intensity and sensitivity of the crime committed. For instance, those who commit murder or use excessive force to steal from the people could be sentenced to life imprisonment. However, the Jamaican court system allows for remission for those people who have committed petty crimes and have shown the attempt to reform for the better.
Secondly, the Jamaican legal system also punishes the law offenders through the use of fines. This is usually a specified sum of money that the offender is required to pay as damages for the wrongs committed. It is said that in the event that the offender defaults in payment of the stipulated fine, the court has the prerogative to give a prison sentence that is equivalent to the fine. However before this is done, the court makes the inquiry to find out if the offender is in a position to meet such demands to prevent petty offenders from going to prison. Due to the increased levels of crimes in Jamaica, the citizens and the parliamentarians feel that death penalty should be brought back into play, though the Amnesty International feels that this is not the best way to address the current situation. However, just like many other nations, the country had death penalty as one of punitive sentences. Due to the calls by the human rights watchdogs, several nations have suspended the death penalty but instead embraced the life imprisonment.
While the above are referred to as punitive sentences, the Jamaican legal system also provides for non-custodial sentences such as community sentences. This is where the offender is expected to perform certain community services such as keeping the environment clean as a way of punishment. This is normally administered when the crimes committed are considered petty according to the laws governing a particular country. There are also various ancillary orders that the Jamaican law may deem right to be applied. This includes restitution, which is the returning of the goods that might have been stolen by the offender. Secondly involves the forfeiture of the properties that were used to commit the crime. This includes the vehicles and the weapons that the offender planned to use. Finally, the Jamaican law system may request that the offender compensates the victims (Cameron 2010). This is done with the aim of seeing to it that the victim’s justice is taken to consideration.
There are various similarities between the Jamaica legal system and that of the United States. Firstly, both the legal system is in agreement that a person is innocent unless they are proven guilty. For that purpose, the rights of the offenders are taken into account before and during the proceedings. Just like in Jamaica, the United States has the living kind of legal that is flexible to cater for any changes that occurs. This is bearing to the fact that the society is dynamic and complex. Therefore there is the need to make the legal system flexible for the purpose of accommodating such changes. The other similarity between the two countries is that the life sentence is also preferred over the death penalty in the United States.
Crimes are said to be integral part of the society meaning that they are difficult to control and eliminate. For that reason, the governments have the responsibility of monitoring and minimizing such incidences by formulating the law and establishing the institutions that deal with criminal activities. The Jamaican legal system has been refurbished for the sake of dealing with the increased incidences of crimes that require more qualified and sophisticated technology. The Jamaican legal system is similar to that of the United States in that both have similar ways of punishing the offenders.
Cameron,C.(2010). The Making of a Jamaican Don: Spanner's Views on Dons, Corrupt Politicians, and Public Officials. USA; iUniverse Publishers
Myles, R. (2001). The Department of Labor's 2001 findings on the worst forms of child labor: Trade and Development Act of 2000. DIANE Publishing
Wesson, R. (2002). Politics, policies, and economic development in Latin America. USA; Hover Press
Jerry, L. (2001). Jamaica Foreign Policy and Government Guide. Jamaica; Kingston, int.press
Laurence R. Fyfe (2006). The Handbook of Jamaica. Jamaica; Kingston, Universal Publications