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Arlene M. Roberts

Arlene M. Roberts

Posted: August 20, 2009 06:37 PM

The Faces of Detention and Deportation


Recent headlines have focused on the surge in the number of criminal deportees to the Caribbean. CARICOM leaders are making preparations for the meeting with President Obama scheduled this fall in Washington, D.C. Crime in the Caribbean is at the top of the agenda. One persistent question regarding individuals who are in detention and subject to deportation is, "What is the nature of their offenses?"

According to statistics recently released by the Department of Homeland Security, the number of criminal deportees to the Caribbean in the past ten years is in excess of 50, 000. The breakdown for the English-speaking Caribbean is as follows - Jamaica (14, 006 criminal deportees); Trinidad and Tobago (2, 589); Guyana (1, 742); Barbados (484); Antigua and Barbuda (303); St. Vincent and the Grenadines (202); St. Lucia (192); Dominica (177); and Grenada (176).

The governments of various Caribbean nations have adopted different strategies to deal with the deportee dilemma. In Guyana, the government has officially entered into a pilot program -- with the assistance of the United States government -- aimed at reintegrating deportees into society. In Jamaica (and other CARICOM nations), there is a renewed interest in Beyond Boundaries, a comparative study of criminal deportation and its impact by Dr. Annmarie Barnes, a noted criminologist. In Trinidad and Tobago, as reported in a local newspaper, National Security Minister Martin Joseph indicated that CARICOM leaders are exploring the possibility of reciprocal arrangements for the deportation of criminals.

But as CARICOM leaders prepare for the upcoming meeting to discuss crime, they are best advised to consider this analysis:

How many Caribbean nationals are currently in detention subject to deportation?

What is the anticipated rate of deportation for Caribbean nationals?

What is the nature of the offense committed? Urinating in public? Jumping a turnstile? Possession of a controlled substance? Possession with intent to sell? Armed robbery? Murder? Manslaughter?

How long ago did the offense occur?

Should an individual who has committed a more serious offense be treated the same way as an individual who has committed a less egregious offense?

There is no one-size-fits-all mold to the deportee dilemma. So leaders should take all these variables into consideration as they strive to craft a solution favorable to all affected parties.

NOTE: This is the first in a series of ongoing articles that will profile Caribbean nationals who are in detention subject to deportation or who have been deported.

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