Court Blames Software Procurement Failure For Delay In Crucial Gangland Verdict…

As a for­mer front line crime-fight­er who has been shot in the line of duty defend­ing my coun­try from vio­lent thugs, I did not expect any quar­ter and those with whom I worked will recall that I gave none to those who would extin­guish the lives of the inno­cent.
Nevertheless, it was the tar­di­ness, inter­fer­ence, lack of seri­ous­ness and focus on crime which caused me to make the crit­i­cal deci­sion 28 years ago to leave the JCF. It was a deci­sion I nev­er once regret­ted.
Even at this late stage, had I stayed I would still be a serv­ing mem­ber, and that is the rea­son that I con­tin­ue to speak out on the issue of crime and vio­lence, and the con­se­quences the com­plic­i­ty of the two polit­i­cal par­ties is hav­ing on our coun­try.

Intelligent, tac­ti­cal polic­ing based on good intel­li­gence gath­er­ing, is at the cen­ter of what Jamaica needs.

Some of our for­mer law-enforce­ment prac­ti­tion­ers much smarter than I am, have argued that crime is mul­ti­di­men­sion­al, and that if a full­some approach is adopt­ed we will begin to reap rewards.
Others in the hal­lowed halls of acad­e­mia con­tend that the vio­lence we con­tin­ue to expe­ri­ence in Jamaica will sim­ply van­ish, if a Utopian sce­nario is cre­at­ed in which every­one has a job and enough resources to pur­chase what­ev­er they want.
I sum­mar­i­ly rub­bish those argu­ments, as there is no evi­dence that pover­ty in Jamaica is the pri­ma­ry dri­ver of vio­lent crimes. That is not to say that as far as some crimes are con­cerned pover­ty does not play a part.
From the Lotto scam, there is data to be extrap­o­lat­ed which will show that pover­ty plays no part in its con­tin­u­ance.
Smart tech-savvy young men are able to scam huge sums of mon­ey from the vul­ner­a­ble. They then use the illic­it, ill-got­ten returns to pur­chase high pow­ered weapons and build-out dan­ger­ous crim­i­nal enter­pros­es which the Government should be extreme­ly star­tled by.

Law enforce­ment has con­tin­ued to make the case that lot­to scam­ming is a major source of the resources fund­ing the crim­i­nal gangs oper­at­ing across the Island.
I have long called for anti-gang laws sim­i­lar to the US Rico Statute. The Jamaica anti-gang law, though nowhere close to the Rico Statute in strength, was a good first step.
Which brings us to the tri­al of alleged gang leader Uchence Wilson and his 17 co-accused.
Those watch­ing the case may also be con­cerned as the lawyers for the accused defen­dants at the long delay in announc­ing a ver­dict in the tri­al presided over by Chief Justice Bryan Sykes.
(The old adage *jus­tice delayed is jus­tice denied *) comes to mind in this instance.
The court is on record as say­ing that a ver­dict would have been announced on January 8th, 2020. 

[However, in a December 6th let­ter to attor­neys rep­re­sent­ing the accused defen­dants, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, explained that due to soft­ware issues used to col­late, ana­lyze and anno­tate evi­dence, an alter­na­tive had to be sought. The pro­cure­ment for the new soft­ware, accord­ing to let­ter, was not com­plet­ed until last week. “Unfortunately, the pro­cure­ment process was not com­plet­ed until December 4, 2019, when the link to the soft­ware was acquired. This new soft­ware seems more promis­ing, but there is an inevitable learn­ing curve which was be suc­cess­ful­ly nego­ti­at­ed. The tran­scripts and oth­er evi­dence will not have to loaded unto this soft­ware, anno­tat­ed and man­aged,” Sykes said. ]

The time­ly, fair and equi­table dis­pen­sa­tion of jus­tice is some of the cor­ner­stones on which a just and thriv­ing soci­ety is built. Surely, in this heat­ed envi­ron­ment of vio­lent crimes and the urgency which ought to be attached to its res­o­lu­tion, the last thing which should be hold­ing up the time­ly res­o­lu­tion of an impor­tant case is appro­pri­ate com­put­er soft­ware.
The Chief Justice’s let­ter reveals some basic short­com­ings. Quote; “This new soft­ware seems more promis­ing”.
Sounds slip­shod, rather than a pro­fes­sion­al audit which would deter­mine qual­i­ta­tive­ly, exact­ly what is need­ed instead of what seems to be a guess­ing game as to its per­for­mance.
There is an inevitable learn­ing curve which was to be suc­cess­ful­ly nego­ti­at­ed”.
In oth­er words, “we don’t know for sure whether the new soft­ware will work as we expect it to and even so we will have to then learn how to use it”.
Police and Prosecutors seem to have held up their end of the bar­gain. The ques­tion now is, have the jus­tice min­istry done its due dili­gence. Calls to the Ministry has not resolved that issue.

The optics are less than desir­able, here we have an impor­tant case, one which for bet­ter or worse can be a bench­mark in the way the law is enforced and unfor­tu­nate­ly, an agency of gov­ern­ment fell down on the job.
The par­ti­san apol­o­gist who defends every medi­oc­rity will also defend this lat­est iter­a­tion as well, you know, “things hap­pen.”
The fact of the mat­ter is that it is the respon­si­bil­i­ty of some­one to pro­cure what­ev­er soft­ware is need­ed to ensure the smooth run­ning of the process.
That did not hap­pen and some­one should be held account­able.
This lev­el of pro­tract­ed tar­di­ness has been indica­tive of the way the pub­lic sec­tor oper­ates. For years much of the blame for the break­down of the process in the crim­i­nal jus­tice space has been laid at the feet of the police.
This can­not be.
The nation should be high­ly focused on the out­come of this case. On it hinges whether the prac­tices used by police and pros­e­cu­tors are good enough to secure con­vic­tions in a sys­tem which is high­ly hos­tile to the pros­e­cu­tion.
We too will be watch­ing.

Mike Beckles is a for­mer Jamaican police Detective cor­po­ral, a busi­ness own­er, avid researcher, and blog­ger. 
He is a black achiev­er hon­oree, and pub­lish­er of the blog chatt​-​a​-box​.com. 
He’s also a con­trib­u­tor to sev­er­al web­sites.
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