The Bail Act of 2000 was tabled to be repealed and replaced by the Bail Act of 2022 which will enforce stricter and more stringent requirements in granting bail to certain types of offenders in Jamaica’s judicial system.
Marlene Malahoo Forte, the Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs raised the moot in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Based on the new legislation proposed, presiding judges will be able to recommend the wearing of an electronic tracking device or ankle bracelet to defendants granted bail.
Section 8 (5c) of the Bill stipulates, “the wearing by the defendant of an electronic tracking device to allow for the monitoring of the movements of the defendant, being a device in accordance with such specifications and characteristics as shall be prescribed”.
According to the Act, defendants who may be denied bail are those who are charged with murder and where self-defence does not arise in the prosecution’s case.
Another provision is if the crime was committed in certain places such as within a Zone of Special Operation (ZOSO), in an area in respect of which a state of public emergency is in force under the Emergency Powers Act, or any area within which a cordon is established or a curfew is imposed, under section 50B of the Constabulary Force Act.
Additionally, section 14 of the Bill outlines that a person who absconds while on bail will face up to five years in prison if the conviction is before the Parish Court while facing up to seven years if the offence is before a Circuit Court. A condition is that this conviction will run consecutive to the offence that the defendant was answering to in court.
Before the Bail Act of 2022 is passed into law, the Bill will go to a Joint Select Committee of the Parliament.