Gov't submits proposed amendments to increase mandatory minimum sentence for murder

Delroy Chuck and Phillip Paulwell
By Prince Moore 
The government has submitted proposed amendments to the Offences Against the Person Act to increase the mandatory minimum sentence for murder.
The proposal is to increase the sentence for life imprisonment for non-capital murder from 15 years before eligibility for parole to 40 years.
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck made the announcement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon.
In the case of eligibility for parole for capital murder, Mr. Chuck said the proposal is to increase the mandatory minimum sentence to be served before being eligible for parole from 20 to 50 years.
Mr. Chuck told the House of Representatives that where the sentence handed down was a term of years, amendments will be made to increase the mandatory minimum sentence to be served before being eligible for parole from 10 to 35 years. 
He said these changes would ensure that "the potential sentence matches the seriousness and gravity of the offence whilst remaining within the realm of constitutionality by preserving some degree of discretion in the courts". 
In "reasonable and deserving cases", he said, the court would be able to reconsider the circumstances to determine the appropriateness of continued incarceration. 
Mr. Chuck said a bill will be laid in the House to reflect the government's position and the appropriate penalties to be applied to the offence of murder.
Apprehend criminals 
Leader of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives, Phillip Paulwell, said while there is a need to ensure the penalty for murder is commensurate with the crime, greater focus should be place on apprehending criminals because other legal issues such as bail, sentences and penalties "will only arise after you catch them". 
He said more resources and technology should be dedicated to detecting and investigating cases so there is sufficient evidence. 
Mr. Paulwell also suggested that the use of technology and the Evidence Act will help alleviate some of the need for the "human factor" since many witnesses to crimes are fearful of giving evidence.  

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