A second chance

The event spearheaded by Foundation Judicial Institutes St. Maarten SJIS centred on implementation of community service (see Monday newspaper) was noteworthy. Many don’t realise how much is done to help keep suspects found guilty of relatively minor crimes out of jail.

As of the first quarter of 2024 the Probation Office oversees 80 persons engaged in community service, collectively contributing 5,500 hours of unpaid labour with a minimum value of US $55,000. Several governmental as well as non-profit organisations benefit from this in exchange for accommodating the clients and SJIS invited more to register as workplaces.

It’s important especially for first-time offenders, to prevent them from becoming so-called revolving-door or career criminals. Lack of cell space continues to be an issue and while a new prison will be built, the intention is to have fewer, not more detainees in the future.

The same goes for hiring convicts. Many employers require a clean police record, which is, of course, their prerogative.

However, if nobody gives them a job for this reason, their chances of successfully re-socialising and staying on the right path are dim at best. Besides, once having served the sentence and thus paid their debt to society, punishment should end.

Nobody is suggesting they be allowed to become police officers, prosecutors or even government ministers, but in principle everyone deserves a second chance.


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