New Guidelines for Jailing Sick and Elderly Offenders by CJ Koome

New Guidelines for Jailing Sick and Elderly Offenders by CJ Koome

New Guidelines for Jailing Sick and Elderly Offenders by CJ Koome

Updated sentencing guidelines for judges and magistrates have been published by Chief Justice Martha Koome, and they especially cover instances involving the terminally sick, the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, and criminals who have mental health issues.Chief Justice Koome emphasized in the guidelines released on Friday, September 1, that judges assigned to cases involving offenders with disabilities should carefully consider whether the sentence issued, taking into account the person’s condition or age, may be regarded to be overly harsh.

She encouraged the judges to take into account two factors, namely whether the criminal would suffer unjustified hardship in custody due to illness or old age and if the conditions in custody would be deemed inhumane given the offender’s condition.Second, Koome suggested considering whether the offender’s condition would place an excessive strain on other offenders or the prison staff members responsible for their care.

The right of senior citizens to live in dignity is affirmed by Article 57 of the Constitution, Chief Justice Koome reminded the court.Part of the rules states, “The sentence imposed on them must therefore not undermine this right.”

According to Koome, other State ministries had made substantial headway in dealing with similar situations, and the judiciary needed to reassess the sentences given to indigent defendants.Inadequate care is provided for other criminals who have terminal illnesses, such as those who require chemotherapy for cancer treatment, have hypertension, diabetes, or other chronic illnesses, and they endure unfair hardships while incarcerated.Part of the recommendations stated, “A court should ensure that the sentence imposed does not amount to an excessive punishment in view of the extent of illness and age, as well as in light of the offence committed, when imposing sentencing orders against terminally ill and elderly offenders.”

In particular, Koome advised that the court should ensure that the sentence imposed does not amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in view of the extent of illness or age of the offender.

The guidelines said that non-custodial or suspended sentences should be taken into consideration unless justice would require the imposition of a custodial sentence in light of the nature and degree of the offence committed and other criteria, Koome said.The Chief Justice further noted that various degrees of mental illness may be present in certain accused people when they appear before the courts.”There are three general categories for the purposes of the Guidelines, among which are mental illness, which may qualify as a defense under section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and the M’Naughten Rules.

The ability of an accused person to comprehend the proceedings against him may nonetheless need to be taken into account in cases when mental illness does not amount to a legal defense. As Koome said.The final category is one in which a person’s mental illness does not fit into either of the first two categories but nevertheless has the potential to influence the type of sentence the court should impose in order to provide a just and proportionate response to the crime that was committed.The Chief Justice emphasized the significance of these disparities for the presiding Judge when passing judgment on those who are mentally ill.

Section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides for situations when the court finds a defendant to be “guilty but insane” for offenders who have a mental disorder that serves as a defense.According to the legislation in this instance, the offender must be placed in detention while awaiting the President’s order. As for the location and method of custody at this time, Koome suggested that the court had the final say.She pointed out that the President may then order that the person be held in a mental hospital, prison, or other appropriate location under section 166 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

In such circumstances, the order committing an offender with mental illness to safe custody is accompanied by a regular review mechanism.The review is undertaken through the lens of the officer in charge of the institution keeping the offender in safe custody, with the first review coming three years after the initial committal and subsequently after every two years.

“Where improvement is observed in the offender’s follow-up examination, it should be brought to the President’s attention for additional suitable directives, including discharge when appropriate.The advisory stated, in part, “For accused persons who, as a result of a mental illness, cannot understand the proceedings against them, Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides for cases where the accused person cannot understand the proceedings against him.”

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