(CMR) Primer Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, has confirmed new amendments relating to the firearm act to include a 15-year minimum penalty. In a recent public address, Holness shared details of his crime plan, which included building more high-security prisons as he encouraged the citizens of Jamaica to stop being complacent with criminals.
He noted that criminals will no longer be able to use plea bargains in order to get a lighter sentence through the courts but instead will be looking at a 15-year minimum sentence. The Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction, and Regulation Act was passed in late September with 17 amendments and sought to strengthen the penalty related to the use of illegal firearms in the commission of offenses. It also established the Firearms Licensing Authority (FLA) as a corporate body.
Holness shared that gangs target business places such as supermarkets and are highjacking shipments of goods in transport. He shared that the gangs are somewhat organized with lookout drivers and getaway vehicles but that police intelligence is hampering their efforts.
He also stressed that it was necessary for the people of Jamaica to share information with the police and be rewarded for it. The government has established a JMD 50 million fund for useful information on crime, including contract killing and highjacking of goods. He stressed that people know and must share that information with the authorities to save lives.
He said they have already seen the results of their efforts. He said he's interested in how many people are going to jail to face the new penalties under the law.
In an earlier address last month, Holness shared at a political party speech that his government had finalized the plans and costs for a new maximum-security prison that is to be built. The prison will include technology to prohibit criminals from continuing to operate from behind bars. Holness stated:
“I have given instructions that the high-security facility with a communications dead spot be built so we can put no value, high-risk criminals in facilities where they cannot influence crime and murders.”
He also boasted that his state of emergency efforts which now extends across 10 police divisions, had resulted in only four murders the previous day – a new low for the country. The efforts to curtail the crime wave in Jamaica continue as the country records over 1,442 murders as of December 12, 2022 – the vast majority being gun related.
Holness is the Prime Minister of Jamaica, a Member of Parliament for West Central St Andrew, and leader of the Jamaica Labour Party.