The Minister of National Security, the Hon. Wayne Munroe gave his views on the Conditional Release of Offenders Bill at a public consultation meeting held last week.
Munroe told attendees that he took issue with the portion of the bill that calls for the establishment of a Department of Offender Rehabilitation and Welfare Services. He said, “I have come to the view, especially having been in government now for twenty odd months, that setting up new departments is cumbersome, expensive and whenever two government departments have to interact there is great potential for slippage. And so I am currently of the view that the system to manage probation, to manage suspended sentences, to manage conditional releases on parole should be the Bahamas Department of Corrections.”
The Minister further explained, “when you’re on probation you are serving a sentence. And whenever you’re serving a sentence you should be supervised by a correctional officer who is trained. Suspended sentence again is a sentence. When you’re serving a sentence you should be supervised by a correctional officer. Conditional release, on parole, when you’re released on conditions you are serving your sentence in the community, you should be supervised by a correctional officer so that there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that these people are serving sentences. They are not free like you and I.”
The Bahamas Department of Correctional Services have planned three additional public meetings on the subject.