Reading the reports in our newspapers on the poor, performance by the Attorney General office suggest that there are major problems in that agency of the government. The legislature which has oversight responsibility over the executive branch is failing to perform any better than when the Senators were paid $15,000.00. They are now earning professional salaries but are performing as unskilled laborers. With all the complaints from the public and the courts about the poor performances by the Assistant Attorney Generals, the Senate committee with oversight responsibility has failed to call a hearing to find out what are the facts. The Senate can and should seek ways to improve the performance of that very important agency of government. Any Senator could call for a hearing and/or launch an investigation on their own to gather the facts of the allegations being made by several shareholders in the community.
I personally believe that the same justification Governor de Jongh have for bringing a professional in from another jurisdiction to head the Department of Education would also apply to the Department of Justice. Of course, we will need to restructure the department. For starters, we need to remove the Bureau of Corrections from under that department and make it a semi-autonomous agency, with its own board to oversee its administration. Next, we need to compensate the attorneys competitively according to their performance. In addition, dismiss those who do not perform to standard. Maybe we may want to hire some attorneys on contracts based on their record of accomplishment and potentials. The investigation unit should be integrated with the proposed forensic laboratory under a classified (professional) director that responds directly to the Attorney General.
We, the people should let the Governor and the Senators know we need to see some positive changes in the criminal justice system immediately; it is long overdue. This is an opportunity for both the 27th. Legislature and Governor de Jongh, to make a difference and gain the respect and the confidence of the populace. If Governor de Jongh concentrates on performance, in upgrading the standard in the community and not worry about re-election, but on the legacy he can leave, he would be in a better position historically than worrying about re-election, which may not come. The Governor's legacy should be of utmost priority, if he is really a statesman or aspire to be one. We pray the Governor would be imbued with wisdom and courage to do what he knows is right for these Virgin Islands regardless of political consequences, which is the moral imperative of a statesman, of a true leader.
J. J. Estemac
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