One of Grenada’s leading defense counsels has lashed out against a decision by the magistrate at the St David’s Magistrate Court on Monday describing as repugnant, the refusal of bail to two juvenile prisoners on a summary charge on grounds that they were not charged within the magisterial district. He calls for immediate intervention from the office of the Attorney General.
Addressing members of the media on the compound of the Number One High Court in St. George’s on Monday, Clouden said the time has come for urgent reformation of the justice system at the magisterial level, to reflect a greater level of harmony in the dispensing of justice, especially in dealing with juveniles.
Clouden said, with the exception of the Chief Magistrate and a few other magistrates who seem to understand the importance of dealing with juveniles the majority needs to be brought up to speed soonest for fear the nation’s youth can be contaminated as a result of poor judgment.
The defense lawyer’s comments came in the face of an incident where he said two young men were picked up in St. Andrew’s on summary charges of stealing over the weekend. The matter was referred to St. David’s because according to Clouden the magistrate in St. Andrew’s was not sitting for reasons given.
However despite no objection to bail application from the prosecution, the magistrate decided to refuse bail on grounds that she had no jurisdiction over the matter, and proceed to remand the young men to the prison until such time as the Grenville magistrate returns.
Clouden dubbed the decision as a defilement of good sense, one that lacked reasoning given the fact he noted that as a magistrate one has jurisdiction over any matter that comes before them; it has nothing to do he said with where the incident occurred, considering it was just a matter of bail knowing fully well that juvenile justice is part of family life justice of any civilized country.
Monday’s decision Clouden said opens these young men to an opportunity to be engaged with seasoned criminals and what could be the start to a down hill slope in their lives, having acquired the skills of those seasoned criminals.
What ought to have been done Clouden went on to explain, is to get to the parent, to a family court judge or the young men be place in a juvenile detention centre rather than a prison.
It is for this reason Clouden said he is calling on the government and the magistracy to introduce some form of reform that would address juvenile justice rather than having them punished at the prison. He went on to say that unless these young people are treated differently, we would have a society that breathes young criminals. It is therefore incumbent on the Attorney General Clouden added to call in these magistrates through some form of programmes to ensure that young people are kept out of Richmond Hill.