Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Don’t plead guilty out of desperation, Principal Judge tells inmates.Drive Hot News


Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine(pictured) on Tuesday cautioned inmates to desist from pleading guilty to the crimes they have not committed just for the sake of having their day in court with the hope of getting their freedom. File photo 

JINJA
Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine has cautioned inmates to desist from pleading guilty to the crimes they have not committed just for the sake of having their day in court with the hope of getting their freedom.
Dr Bamwine said as administrators of Judiciary, they have continued to receive a number of incidents of how inmates want to plead guilty to the offenses they have not committed just to have their fate determined quickly and get out of jail as they reason that it takes years to have your day in court.
Justice Bamwine sounded the caution this morning at Jinja High Court while launching a new justice system dubbed “plea bargain” in the area. 
The launch of plea bargain in Busoga region is aimed at reducing case backlog and de-congesting the prisons.
According to records from Jinja Court, the current criminal case backlog stands at 873. 
It is from this staggering number of case backlog that the inmates are expected to voluntarily plead guilty to the offenses they have committed in exchange for lighter sentences or charge.
“People (suspects) should not plead guilty to crimes they have not committed out of desperation with the hope of getting out of jail.” Justice Bamwine cautioned Jinja inmates whom he was meeting alongside state prosecutors defense lawyers and judges.
Adding: “those who plead guilty should be those who are confessing their offenses that they have committed and they are asking for forgiveness. For those who are innocent, our commitment to them is to see that they have their day in court at an earliest opportunity possible and prove their innocence.”
Justice Bamwine also cautioned the judges and magistrates to always consider the period spent on remand by the inmates while sentencing them on grounds that its provided for under article 23 (2) of the constitution.
He explained that his office and those of Chief Registrar and Acting Chief Justice; have continued to receive complaints from prisoners over the same. 
Plea bargaining is a negotiated agreement between the prosecution and an accused person who is represented by a lawyer. 
The accused person then appears before a judge to plead guilty to the charges against him/her in exchange for a lesser sentence without going through a lengthy full trial.
For example, if a suspect is facing terrorism charges and voluntarily accepts to plead guilty, his lawyer and the prosecution can ask the judge to hand him a lesser sentence of say 30 years as opposed to the maximum penalty of death by hanging in case he was convicted at the end of a full trial.
In plea negotiation, Instead of the traditional adversarial- time and resource intensive method of prosecution- the accused person will take responsibility for his crime and plead guilty at the outset and in exchange; prosecution will give up something to make it a win-win situation. 
Jinja High Court becomes the third court in the country where plea bargain is rolled out by the Judiciary in joint collaboration with Directorate of Public Prosecutions.
The first two courts include; Nakawa in Kampala and Mbarara in Western Uganda.