JFJ against death penalty for Clarendon murders

June 29, 2022
The bodies of the victims are removed from the crime scene.
The bodies of the victims are removed from the crime scene.

While sympathising with the victims' family, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) Executive Director, Mikel Jackson, is cautioning against pursuing the death sentence in the case of Rushane Barnett, the accused in a Clarendon quintuple murder.

Yesterday the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn said her office would be seeking the death penalty for Barnett, when he appeared before the Supreme Court for the first time, a week after the gruesome murder of his cousin Kemesha Wright and her four children. There has been widespread outcry for the death penalty to be imposed.

However, Jackson said that while she understood the public's outcry and the legal position of the DPP, mitigating factors had to be considered.

"For example, the accused in question, he is 23 years old. The question is, is he beyond rehabilitation? What are some of the circumstances that the criminal justice system would need to put in place, where if the accused is in fact found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment, what else can we do while he is in prison to ensure that we can see a more reformed individual in society? And society here would be behind bars because it's life imprisonment, but certainly rehabilitation must be considered," she said.

"The fact that the accused also allegedly confessed is another thing that one will have to consider. If the accused confessed, was there the circumstance of regret, so to speak, and should that be considered with pursuing the death penalty? These are some of the things we are saying why we believe that the death ought not to be imposed in this particular case, but JFJ is stridently opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances," she said. Jackson also extended condolences to the grieving family and expressed hope that they will receive the necessary support. Meanwhile, Llewellyn told THE STAR that she has to act according to perception of the law, the circumstances and the public interest.

"The judge has another role, and the law says if you are going to have it as an option in terms of your sentencing hearing given the circumstances, you must serve it long before the trial. So I thought that it would be good to do it now," Llewellyn said. Barnett is set to return to court on July 22.

Other News Stories