Justice Minister Delroy Chuck is encouraging the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) membership in Clarendon to assist with reducing the backlog of court cases in the parish by training to deliver alternative justice services.
Speaking at the May Pen SDA Church on October 29, Chuck noted that alternative justice services and specifically restorative justice can be used to resolve disagreements and lesser offences so they do not end up in the court system.
“In Clarendon, we have a situation where for every 100 cases that come to the courts only 95 are actually dealt with which means that about 5% of cases are going into backlog every year. It is one of the few parishes that is not achieving a 100% clear-up rate. This is why we are promoting restorative justice and asking people to go to court as a last resort”, Chuck said.
He says parish courts combined have in excess of 70,000 cases annually.
“I know, members of the congregation, that you are not the ones burdening the courts. But we are urging you to assist us in getting fewer cases. So we want 25 members to start. After we go to each church and sensitize 25 members then we would ask for another set. This sensitization would happen over a two-day period with emphasis on restorative justice”, Chuck explained.
Restorative justice allows victims and offenders to meet with a neutral party outside of court in order to resolve conflicts in the aftermath of an offence. The SDA church along with other denominations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the ministry of justice in September to initiate restorative justice training.
Inspector of Police Dorothy Thomas, representing Senior Superintendent of Police for the Clarendon Division, Carlos Russell, said these kinds of partnerships assist the police as well.
“It is the church that sets the standard for how our society ought to operate. Our work is easier now that we are in partnership with alternative justice services because there is so much we can do by ourselves and no more”, Thomas stated.
Addressing another matter, Minister Chuck stated that the new Road Traffic Act is to be implemented in a few weeks and that he is pushing for persons with outstanding tickets to have their licences suspended to encourage settlement. He said this will produce more order on the roads making them safer for all users.
Central Jamaica Conference (CJC) president, Pastor Nevail Barrett affirmed the church’s commitment to creating a decent and orderly society and to abiding by the law.
“Here in CJC alone we have 105,000 members and that’s something to praise God for. Think about what these members could have been doing had it not been for the church. Think about 105,000 people adding to the mayhem and carnage in society. The church is playing a very pivotal role in the lives of individuals and in the nation”, Barrett said.