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EDITORIAL: Laws Have Changed For The Better

EDITORIAL: Laws Have Changed For The Better
Logo for the Fiji Corrections Service.
June 02
11:57 2018

Repealing the Probation of Offenders Act which was passed in the 1950s and replacing it with the Community-Based Corrections Act of 2018 makes a lot of sense.

It makes economical sense because right now we spend $55 per day to keep an offender in jail and it makes so­ciological sense.

First offenders, who may have gone to jail for a misde­meanour may come out a hardened criminal and it is our responsibility to ensure this does not happen.

A case from Taveuni, which the Attorney-General Ai­yaz Sayed-Khaiyum had talked about in Parliament, was of a young man who was jailed for stealing a pair of shoes belonging to a tourist.

He does not deserve to go to jail. Yes, stealing is wrong, but it is as much about rehabilitation as it is about ret­ribution.

So what happens now and how do we as a community play a role? We play our part in not castigating the of­fender, to begin with and this is where Government’s Yellow Ribbon Programme comes in handy because it deals mainly with rehabilitation.

Criminals will not get off scot-free. No. They will in­stead, serve their time doing community work. And this is just one scenario.

They will get the required counselling and they will be made to work off their sentences. This has been the practice the world over. It is just a shame that no pre­vious Government had brought about this change and thousands of young Fijians have gone into prisons and come out hardened criminals.

But it is happening now and we as a nation must sup­port this. It is about the future of our youth. There are many reasons behind an opportunistic crime and our courts are limited in how they exercise their powers be­cause they have to remain within the ambit of the law. But the laws have changed now. And, it has changed for the better.

One more thing Government needs to be commended for is the new corrections facility they are building in Nasinu.

This facility will house younger criminals away from the influence of those who have made a habit of coming in and going out of jail. It will also house elderly prison­ers. The law has been put in place, it was decades late in coming but it is in place now. We need to make this work.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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