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  • jamaican law on death penalty

    Hanging was halted in Jamaica following the … A deal was eventually brokered whereby Clarke was freed and five of the prisoners, including Hector, were granted an audience with Manley at which they outlined their complaints.39 These focused on four main issues: the inadequacy of legal representation in capital trials and appeals, delays in the legal process, specific individual cases of injustice and hardship, and the manner in which executions were carried out.40, 18In Hector’s account, the kidnapping was not the result of lax security but rather one element of a broader, coordinated campaign of resistance that had originated in attempts to improve conditions on death row that dated back many months. Jamaica, the death penalty: report of an Amnesty International Mission to Jamaica. Hector described the kidnapping as a “spark” that set off resistance across the Jamaican prison system. Bernard had been found guilty of shooting dead 18-year-old Clifton Stevenson in Tivoli Gardens in June 1972, mainly on the basis of testimony from a 14 year old girl, Paulette Stewart, who appeared at the original trial as the sole eye-witness to the crime. Death by hanging was the mandatory penalty for murder and the number of death sentences handed down by Jamaican courts each year grew from roughly fourteen in the late 1960s to an average of nearly fifty in the 1970s. The reasons for the decision in Williams’s case are opaque, but might have reflected that the life of his accomplice, Hector, had already been spared, or the fact that he had spent more than seven years on death row. On Hector’s first night in A Block, the man in the neighbouring cell rapped on the wall, “expressed his condolences” and warned that the warder on duty would “brutalize us” if he heard any noise coming from the cells. There were normally two warders assigned to Gibraltar Block, but on the night in question one was called away to do yard patrols due to staff shortages elsewhere in the prison and this left Warder Clarke alone. Knowing they could not win a physical confrontation, they agreed that they would refuse to leave their cells when called out the following morning. The vehemence with which Hector condemns Jamaica’s legal system, prisons and wider political culture suggests that the risks he took did little to inhibit his writing, though it should be noted that it was in the interests of both Hector and the JCHR – which had long fought against capital punishment and worked on Hector’s case – to stress the humanity of condemned prisoners and the injustices perpetrated by the Jamaican courts. In return for promises of homes, jobs and protection from the police, criminal dons organised whole communities to support their chosen candidates. Among prisoners condemned to hang in this period who were eventually put to death, no man spent longer on the row than Thomas Ransford, who was held for more than nine years and three months between his conviction on 30 April 1974 and his execution on 19 July 1983. Anthony Ashwood, who estimated that between thirty and thirty-five men were executed during his time on death row in the 1980s, recalled that the cart “have on two wheels and a pure squeaking it make when dem a push it.” He remembered too the graveyard, situated behind the prison kitchen and near to a football pitch,35 where executed prisoners were laid to rest within sight of those who still awaited their date with the gallows. Before Rupert Anderson was executed in 1971, he asked Rev. This gives further reason to believe that the views Hector expressed were largely his own. The guards would sell the prison supplies on the outside, while the prisoners would trade the contraband amongst themselves, including to death row prisoners, in particular those, like Hector, who were widely believed to be innocent. The reasons for the decision in Williams’s case are opaque, but might have reflected that the life of his accomplice, Hector, had already been spared, or the fact that he had spent more than seven years on death row. At about midnight, Clarke attended one of the prisoners who had called for some water and he was seized as soon as he stepped into the death row corridor. This gives further reason to believe that the views Hector expressed were largely his own. A deal was eventually brokered whereby Clarke was freed and five of the prisoners, including Hector, were granted an audience with Manley at which they outlined their complaints. He had “only occasionally coherent periods of cognition” and his “emotional organization [was] breaking down”. Source: Criminal Investigation Department, Jamaica Annual Abstract of Statistics, 1953 to 1989. Hector also wrote under difficult conditions. Thirteen of the men were practicing Rastafarians and many others wore dreadlocks. They also drew up a petition for a stay of execution, which was signed by hundreds of inmates and sent to the Governor-General.62 Ronnie Thwaites, an attorney for one of the men who was scheduled to be hanged, told the Barnett Commission of Inquiry in 1975 that “the atmosphere at the prison was once again ‘electric’ because of the decision to hang the men”, and the Commissioners voiced their dismay that the executions had been scheduled while their investigations were ongoing.63 The executions were eventually stayed for one week to allow for the Commission to submit an interim report for the consideration of the Governor-General and Privy Council, and then further postponed until the Commission had completed its work.64 Two of the four men – Carl Bryan and Noel Absolom – were finally hanged in late-February 1976, but Everton McFarlane and Errol Gayle had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. Critically – and in contradistinction to prisoners who were executed after similarly lengthy spells under sentence of death just a few years later – Williams had long since exhausted his legal appeals, so the delay in enforcing his death sentence was largely due to government inaction, which once again attests to the significant impact of the Warder Clarke kidnapping on the fate of the death row prisoners who participated in it. Jamaica, Amnesty International Country Dossiers Catalogue, ACT 05/03/79. Among the findings were that most of the men were from low socio-economic backgrounds, grew up in violent neighbourhoods and came from large but unstable families in which the children “tend[ed] to be fathered by several different men” and frequently had to look after themselves. The ruling PNP government responded to the violence by enacting two new and controversial pieces of legislation. Bernard had been found guilty of shooting dead 18-year-old Clifton Stevenson in Tivoli Gardens in June 1972, mainly on the basis of testimony from a 14 year old girl, Paulette Stewart, who appeared at the original trial as the sole eye-witness to the crime. Echoing the sentiments of condemned prisoners in the United States, he wrote of, “time…seemingly endless time…Sitting empty-eyed…Standing because you’re tired of sitting…Consideration…frustration…silence…Time…silence…the death sentence…time.”19, 11Record numbers of Jamaican prisoners experienced the stultifying conditions of death row in the 1970s, due in large part to the island’s spiralling murder rate.20 In 1962, there were 57 reported murders in Jamaica, but by 1972 that figure had more than trebled to 188 and by 1980 it stood at 699.21 This was a unique moment in the history of Jamaican murder. Prisoners were not permitted to wear shoes and were rarely provided with changes of clothes, and then only at the whim of prison guards. The Fraser Report found in 1981 that, “[t]he areas in which these men grew up are usually neighbourhoods of concern to the police because of the frequent violence, gang warfare and political conflicts which are prevalent.” Condemned prisoners understood that these conditions had contributed to their own violent pasts: “They argue quite vociferously that the culture of the neighbourhood imposes on them the need to be tough and ready to defend the ‘territory’, (their own neighbourhood) from attack and interference from ‘outsiders’”. 420-440. Hector himself claimed that he appealed his case to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London not because he “hoped to find justice” in what he called “that ancient capital of colonialism”, but rather “to earn some time” in which to develop a plan to reverse his conviction or in some other way to save his life. The Jamaica Privy Council nominally continued with its regular function of reviewing capital sentences and determining whether or not the law should take its course, but while it commuted at least twenty-one death sentences between April 1976 and May 1979, it issued no execution warrants during that time, seemingly on account of ongoing political machinations about the future of capital punishment. In the course of the examination, Morgan was hyperactive, “laughed a lot” and gave responses “that were clearly inappropriate and euphoric”. On their conviction, Hector and Williams were both sentenced to death, which was then the mandatory penalty for murder in Jamaica, and immediately transferred to death row at the St Catherine District Prison in Spanish Town. 72 Baker v. R. [1975], UKPC 22, Majority Judgment, 5. There was at this time unprecedented questioning of the probity and justice of capital punishment in many sections of Jamaican society, notably by the Jamaica Council for Human Rights (JCHR) and church groups, as well as Amnesty International, which wrote annually to the Governor-General from 1974 to 1976 on the issue of juvenile executions. On the ombudsman, see Barrett (1985, p.69). Along with men from the general prison population, who they communicated with through ventilators in the prison walls, they formed the Prisoners’ United Liberation League (PULL), an organisation that advocated far-reaching reforms across the Jamaican penal system and within a year claimed to have nearly 400 members, before it was outlawed. This judgment was based on schedule 2. Barnett, L. G., Report of commission of enquiry into incidents which occurred at St. Catherine District Prison [on the] 27th December, 1974, Kingston, the Commission, 1975. After undertaking only cursory enquiries, the committee recommended that no changes should be made. 13 There is an extensive literature on the prisoners’ rights movement in the United States, but see in particular Berger (2014, p.2) and Thompson (2016). Hector was chosen by his fellow inmates on death row to represent their views in meetings with the Barnett Commission and Prime Minister Manley and this suggest that there was at least some wider sympathy among condemned inmates for his political views.51 There is no direct evidence on this point, but death row prisoners were certainly politically engaged.52 At a time when so many murders were connected to electoral politics, it is unsurprising that some expressed party political affiliations. Thu, 08 Jul, 2004 - 17:57 En particulier, il montre que les quartiers de condamnés à mort ont constitué des lieux importants de résistance aux exécutions. The court accepted that a long term of imprisonment with hardened criminals would be detrimental to a young offender like Williams. After eighteen months of investigations that involved psychologists and social workers interviewing dozens of condemned inmates and submissions from a range of legal, political, religious and human rights bodies, as well as member of the public, the Fraser Report was published in 1981. Hector had learned that his life was to be spared from a radio news broadcast shortly after lunch on 12 September 1975. , Third Edition, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002. Hector described the kidnapping as a “spark” that set off resistance across the Jamaican prison system. At the heart of the analysis is Mario Hector’s own, remarkable account of his life under sentence of death. Jamaica, Department of Statistics, Annual Abstract of Statistics, Kingston, Department of Statistics, 1953-1989. To this end, the prisoners refused to release Clarke until they were permitted to meet with the Prime Minister, Michael Manley, the chairmen of the Jamaica Council of Churches and the Jamaica Council for Human Rights and two journalists. Although Jamaica has retained the death penalty, it is not being carried out. The Death Penalty and the Law in Early-Twentieth Century Jamaica Judicial and political concern with delayed executions in Jamaica developed in the 1930s and 1940s alongside the introduction of the right of appeal in criminal cases. 26 I have found evidence of three women sentenced to death in 1970s Jamaica. Hector, M., Death Row, London, Zed Books, 1984. “Nasralla Case”, Gleaner, 19 October 1966, p.2; “Judgment in Case against Nasralla”, Gleaner, 17 March 1967, p.5; Director of Public Prosecutions v. Nasralla [1967], UKPC 3. However, a State Party may declare that it reserves the right to apply death penalty in wartime in accordance with international law, for extremely serious crimes of a military nature.15 10See Resolution 42: ‘Urging States to Envisage a Moratorium on the Death Penalty’ 11Ibid. It focuses first on the conditions in which inmates sentenced to death in Jamaica were incarcerated; second, on acts of resistance by condemned prisoners; third, on unsuccessful legal challenges to Jamaica’s juvenile death penalty laws that were central to the decision to grant clemency to Mario Hector in 1975, and fourth, on public criticism and political debates about the future of capital punishment in Jamaica that provided the context in which Winston Williams’s life was spared and Pratt and Morgan first entered death row in 1979. Furthermore, prisoners’ resistance was one of the key reasons for the long delays in the execution of death sentences on which anti-death penalty jurisprudence would turn for the next two decades. This position was established in the non-capital cases of. Although Jamaica has not carried out any executions since 1988, making it an abolitionist de facto state according to the United Nations definition, the country’s legislators declared their commitment to retaining the death penalty in a “conscience” vote in November 2008. 20 Murder was the only offence for which the death penalty was imposed in this period. 21 Figures on reported murders for 1962-78 in Report of the Committee to Consider Death (1981, p.42). Maloney Gordon v. R. [1969], UKPC 29. The average age of the prisoners when they were interviewed was twenty-six, though their average age was just twenty-three at the time of the crimes for which they were sentenced to hang.30 Only five of the men were married (including three who murdered their wives), but many more were in stable relationships and some were visited by girlfriends on death row. There is a small but powerful sociological and criminological literature on the “living death” endured by prisoners who have been condemned to die. Scholarship on the modern death penalty has mostly focused on issues related to abolition. Berger, D., Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2014. 5In a foreword to the book the JCHR described some of Hector’s hypotheses as “difficult to support”, citing as an example his claim that colonialism was responsible for capital punishment. ]”36, 16Mario Hector’s account of his time on death row shows that harsh physical and psychological conditions, coupled with the growing delays between sentencing and execution, were critical to the growth of convict resistance. In particular, it identifies death row as an important site of resistance to executions. Official death certificates indicate that at least two men may have been under 18 at the time of murders for which they were executed in the late-1960s and early-1970s, while Everton MacFarlane was only 17 in early-1975 when the Jamaica Privy Council upheld his death sentence and issued a warrant for his execution to proceed.75. Capital punishment should be distinguished from extrajudicial executions carried out without due process of law. It focuses first on the conditions in which inmates sentenced to death in Jamaica were incarcerated; second, on acts of resistance by condemned prisoners; third, on unsuccessful legal challenges to Jamaica’s juvenile death penalty laws that were central to the decision to grant clemency to Mario Hector in 1975, and fourth, on public criticism and political debates about the future of capital punishment in Jamaica that provided the context in which Winston Williams’s life was spared and Pratt and Morgan first entered death row in 1979. After one prisoner was finally coaxed out and beaten, a second tipped over his slop bucket so the warders would have to cross the mess to get at him, and declared that he would die “right there in the filth” rather than leave his cell. As Jamaica’s homicide rate increased from approximately 4 per 100,000 in the early-1960s to 17 per 100,000 in the late-1970s, it placed a huge strain on the country’s police, criminal justice apparatus and prison system. See “4 on Death Row get reprieve,” Gleaner, 28 July 1972, p.18; “Mother of eight sentenced to death,” Gleaner, 21 October 1972, p.2; “Bernard will not Hang,” Gleaner, 13 September 1975, p.1. Williams denied ever having met Hector before he was taken into custody and could not recall his whereabouts at the time Miller was killed.1. Death by hanging was the mandatory penalty for murder and the number of death sentences handed down by Jamaican courts each year grew from roughly fourteen in the late 1960s to an average of nearly fifty in the 1970s.25 What is more, the men who were condemned to death – and in this period they were, with three known exceptions, all men26 – were more likely than in previous eras to appeal their convictions not only in Jamaican courts but also to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and this meant that prisoners spent far longer on death row than ever before before their cases were resolved.27 Among prisoners condemned to hang in this period who were eventually put to death, no man spent longer on the row than Thomas Ransford, who was held for more than nine years and three months between his conviction on 30 April 1974 and his execution on 19 July 1983. Other expressions of political consciousness were more aligned with Hector’s more radical anti-colonialism, such as when condemned prisoners who were Rastafarians interpreted their conviction and sentence as an attack on their distinctive cultural and religious identity. In Hector’s account, the men were no longer filled with “fear and despair”, but instead recognised the power of collective action and saw for the first time the significant difference “between death on the gallows and death at the end of a gun or the swing of a baton, while bearing the spirit of resistance”. Francis Kempel S.J. On the eve of Bryan and Absolom’s executions, prisoners protested once again, sending a news release to the Legal Aid Clinic for distribution to the media claiming that both men were innocent and calling for an investigation into the case. Meanwhile, back in Kingston, hundreds of ordinary citizens signed petitions in support of clemency.60, 24A second example of coordinated prisoner activism in Hector’s autobiography focused on the aftermath of the Warder Clarke kidnapping. 4The article draws on a wide-range of previously neglected sources. Francis Kempel S.J. Hickling, R.H., “The Jamaican Gun Court Act”, Malaya Law Review, 1974, 16, pp. 19 Hector (1984, p.15). There have been times when only a few crimes receive this consequence, while some societies, such as the seventh century B.C.’s Code of Athens required the punishment for all crimes to be death. That he had also become involved with the work of the Jamaica Council for Human Rights and undertaken a sociology degree also raises the possibility that his views of the mid-1970s were coloured – whether deliberately or inadvertently – by his later experiences and evolving political beliefs. 3The history of the death penalty in Jamaica, and the wider Anglophone Caribbean since the 1970s has mostly been told by legal scholars who have focused on a series of appeals heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom, which has remained Jamaica’s highest appellate court since independence in 1962. Three of the men broke away from their guards and armed themselves as they were transferred from death row to the cells adjacent to the gallows. 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