Jamaica

Data on Death Penalty:    Summary     /     Detailed

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death: 0

Year of Last Known Execution: 1988

Murder Appeals, Delayed Executions, and the Origins of Jamaican Death Penalty Jurisprudence

In December 1993, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ruled in Pratt and Morgan v. The Attorney General for Jamaica that excessive delay in the enforcement of death sentences—defined with some caveats as more than 5 years from the time of conviction to execution—was “inhuman” and therefore unconstitutional. The Judicial Committee also reversed earlier rulings in finding that the 5 year time frame for appeals should include those delays that resulted from legal proceedings initiated by prisoners themselves. The result was to clear death row cells across most of the British Caribbean, with the capital sentences of more than 100 condemned prisoners commuted in Jamaica alone. Pratt also ushered in a new era of Judicial Committee activism in Caribbean death penalty cases that resulted in a series of further safeguards against executions, including the abolition of mandatory death sentences. The cumulative effect of these judgments is that there has not been an execution in Jamaica since 1988, even though capital punishment remains legal and, amidst persistently high rates of violent crime across the region, political support for a resumption of hanging is strong.

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