The Politics of Criminal Justice
Politics is the process by which resources are distributed or allocated. Politics is who gets what, when, and how. Political considerations are necessary but sometimes become a problematic part of criminal justice. The GON Emanuel situation is a text book case of this massive problem. In Dominica key criminal justice and law enforcement decision makers, such as the police chief and attorney general, are selected by the Prime Minister and the selection process is purely political.
Even though politics doesn't have a direct impact on the routine, daily decisions of law enforcement and police officers on patrol, the political culture of a community determines the style of law enforcement and the nature of departmental policy. Politics has permeated the police department to such as an extent that the current police commissioner who seems to be a good and competent guy has been handcuffed by his political boss. He cannot even make a simple call on a formal complain with political ramifications. Case in point is when a popular anti-government journalist filed a simple complaint against one of Skerrit's lieutenants, the chief referred it to a higher source. Really?
Today in Dominica the hard reality is that political considerations influence prosecutors in a direct way. Political appointees such as low as corporals, mid and high ranking police commanders and others tend to mesh their career ambitions to the needs of their political party. There is definitely an abuse of power going on in Dominica today since the current government leadership has been in place. A few years ago a police officer who hails from Salisbury was sent to NYC to spy on a public meeting a group of patriots were having.
There are several other examples. Recently the police picked up a few low level hustlers and filed money laundering charges against them. Mr. Commissioner where are the 800 pound gorillas who wear expensive tailor made suites with silk ties hiding? Do you know and can you tell us if they are protected by the government? Do your officers apply questionable political influences when they are making their sweeps? It isn't it a coincidence that police charged poor people's children who have no one in high office to pull strings for them while the big boys are free and drinking ice tea and sipping rum punch?
Serious problems for citizens and the criminal justice system can result from the politicization of criminal justice. The man who occupies the PM's office and those near him seize opportunities to use criminal justice issues to enhance their own popularity, electability, power and influence peddling. Politicization is observed most readily in political campaigns in which law-and-order rhetoric is prevalent. When criminal justice issues become too politicized, politicians are tempted to engage in demagoguery, appealing to people's emotions, passions, and prejudices rather than to their minds. Political demagoguery is the enemy of clear thinking about solutions to the crime and ethical governance that are affecting our island. Such was the case in Lagoon when one of Skerrit's lieutenants use words on the public platform like Al-Qaida. Was that necessary Mr. 'Loyal .A. L. Lieutenant'? Just so you would know, you made a mockery of all of us and Dominica
When winning political skirmishes becomes more important to public officials and those who hold political power than controlling crime and achieving justice, the criminal justice process becomes crippled and grinds to a halt. One undesirable, very dangerous and ominous precedent is anarchy and extrajudicial practices replace it.
So today's question should be : Is justice facing a deadline in the GON Emanuel Case and will the wheels of justice for him cease to turn depending on the outcome of the next general elections? Well, I am guarded that the results of the elections will be favorable. It would mean that Mr. Emanuel and his wife will have their day in court as the political calculus will have changed. Then and only then will the indictments come down on the gorillas in the expensive suites. Then justice although delayed, will not be denied.