Based on the provisions of the Act, persons convicted of gun crimes face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and up to life in prison.
But, with the rampant criminality in the country and with murders averaging in the region of 1,300 per year, Montague believes the punitive legislation, as described by National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang, does not go far enough.
“We must resume hanging without delay,” he declared during his contribution to the debate, while telling his fellow parliamentarians to vote to remove it from the law books if they believe otherwise.
In justifying the call for a resumption of hanging, Montague suggested that it would be a deterrent to the country’s high murder rate. He pointed to an analysis of the murder figures that shows that in the 25 years from 1962 when Jamaica became an independent nation, to 1987, some 7,447 murders were committed in the country at an average of 297 persons per year or 14.1 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
Highlighting that the last hanging was carried out in Jamaica in February 1988, Montague pointed out that in the 25 years from 1989 to 2014 there were 27,367 murders at an average of 1,094 per year and an average of 42 per 100,000. He noted that during this combined 50-year period, the population moved from 1.6 million to 2.8 million with murders increasing by 400 per cent.
“Please note that in the second 25 years we saw more access by the population to better education, better healthcare, counselling and psychological support. Yet, the only difference is that we have stopped hanging and we have created a murder factory,” Montague stated.
He argued that the statistics show that hanging is “fit-for-purpose for Jamaica”.
“It might not work elsewhere but this 50-year study has clearly shown that hanging keeps murders low in Jamaica,” he remarked.
While the gallows at the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre in Spanish Town, St Catherine has remained dormant for over 34 years, Montague said it was time to build four more – “one in the west, one on the south coast, one on the north coast and one in the east”.
“With five gallows, most areas will be within one hour of one of them. So as the judge pass sentence, straight to the gallows you go. And you must be hanged by your neck until you’re dead, dead, dead or until yuh teeth kin,” the former security minister said.
“If we don’t want to hang, remove it from the books,” Montague told his fellow Members of Parliament.
He asserted that “There’s a conspiracy of vested interests not to hang but they’re not bold enough to bring that amendment on the floor of this Parliament and remove it. If we don’t want to hang tek it off the books”.
Until that time, Montague said: “We must hang, shoot, inject or electrocute them...We cannot cherry pick which laws we’re to obey, the vast majority of Jamaicans support hanging yet some powerful and influential people don’t want hanging and we’re not obeying the law. Then we wonder why we have a crime problem in this country when we cherry pick which laws to obey”.
Montague questioned how as a society we expect the survivors of double and triple murders to continue to work hard, pay their taxes “and use those taxes to mind those dutty criminals in prison who party, floss and enjoy themselves and wear name brand clothes in prison while families are destroyed and survivors have to work (and) pay their taxes to mind them”.
“It cannot be so, let us hang them or remove it from the books,” he insisted.