October 7, 2016
Leniency by Mercy Committee not a done deal – Official

Just because a prisoner applies to the Prerogative of Mercy Committee for leniency, it doesn’t mean it would be granted.

A senior civil servant, familiar with the operations of the Committee, however, told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday that once an application is received from a prisoner, the chair of the Prerogative of Mercy Committee must convene a meeting of the Committee to consider the request.{{more}}

In considering the request, the Mercy Committee requests reports from several agencies, including Her Majesty’s Prisons, the Social Welfare Department, the High Court and the Registry.

According to the official, the Committee takes into consideration the nature of the applicant’s offence, the sentence received, how much of the sentence had been served and the applicant’s behaviour in prison. In addition, social workers contact relatives of both families (victim and offender), as well as prominent persons in the community to determine what would be the response to the prisoner’s release.

The next step is for the Mercy Committee to consider the reports from the different agencies, following which an interview is conducted with the applicant and a determination made.

Once a determination is made, the Governor General is advised.

The Prerogative of Mercy Committee is chaired by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and includes the Attorney-General, a secretary, a medical doctor and a member of the clergy, among others.