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Law As A Deterrent: The Trinidad And Tobago Anti Gang Act 2011

1093 words - 5 pages

The Trinidad and Tobago Anti-Gang Act 2011, strives toward making provision for the maintenance of public safety and order through discouraging membership of criminal gangs and the suppression of criminal gang activity and for other related matters. It seeks to reduce criminal gang activity by making membership of gangs and related activities unlawful; these comprises involvement in a range of offences including murder, robbery, larceny, arson, firearms and ammunition offences, drug trafficking, rape, kidnapping and attempts to commit any of those offences (Act No. 10 of 2011). In accordance with the 2011 legislation gang membership and recruitment efforts are offences liable on summary ...view middle of the document...

The classical theorist, Beccaria (1738–94) believed that people wanted to achieve pleasure and avoid pain; crime provides some pleasure, thus to deter crime, the pain of punishment must outweigh the benefit of illegal gain. To the extent that potential offenders anticipate pleasure from crime, they can be deterred by increasing the pain associated with it. In particular, potential offenders can be deterred by making legal punishment certain, celeritous, and sever (Stafford and Goodrum, 2001). According to the deterrence hypothesis when the certainty, severity, and celerity of criminal sanctions are high in a population, criminal behavior will be low. Certainty probability of apprehension and punishment for a crime (e.g., there is a 15% chance that the person will get caught, and if so, it is highly unlikely that s/he will be prosecute.) Celerity refers to the swiftness with which criminal sanctions are applied after the commission of crime and severity suggests that punishment should be just severe enough to overcome the gain from a crime. However punishment that is too severe is unjust, and punishment that is not severe enough will not deter persons. Without proportionality, people will not be deterred from committing more serious crimes (e.g., if rape and murder both punished with death, a rapist would have little reason to refrain from killing the victim).
“T&T’s anti-gang laws have been in effect for more than a year, however, apart from the flurry of arrests and charges during the state of emergency—which did not result in any prosecutions because the charges were not properly laid—there has been no progress in dealing with this country’s criminal gangs” (Guardian Media, 2012). The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce has also expressed dissatisfaction with the failure by law enforcement agencies to be able to successfully employ the new act of 2011 during the first months of the period of State of Emergence (SoE) to detect arrest and convict perpetrators of gang violence. Furthermore, “when it was subsequently employed virtually all of those suspected of and/or detained and charged for this wrongdoing, were freed by magistrates’ courts, on the application of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) because there was no evidence to support their prosecution” (T&T Chamber of Commerce).
William and Hawkins (1986, p. 561) have indicated that extralegal punishment may result from legal punishment (e.g., an offender may experience loss of employment following imprisonment) and, thus, should be...

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