This week I continued working on the Bahamas Bench Booklet for the magistrates. Much of the problems in the Bahamas stem from systemic issues and a lack of resources. For example, some of the courts simply do not have access to internet and the ability to manage cases through an online system. This means much of the correspondence and management is done by hand, which leads to inefficiency in the courts and more difficulty to have consistent rulings throughout the courts. This was interesting to learn about because I can't imagine being a law student or working in the legal field without regular access to internet, it is a completely different style of learning and management. And to think I get annoyed when my Wi-Fi connection is slower than usual.
We were also continuing research on the penal code in the Bahamas, but instead focusing this week on the specific sentencing guidelines for the different indictable offenses. It was interesting to see what is indictable offenses and some of their mandatory sentences. Some of the offenses have some relatively harsh sanctions, for example concealing a will gets twenty years in prison and stealing from a mailbag receives fourteen years. However, stealing in general only gets ten years. Many of the sanctions seemed harsh, while some fairly lenient, such as concealing the body of a child only gets two years. I recognize that the Bahamas is not the only place in the world that has some odd laws, but reading hundreds of mandatory sentences in a row really makes you think twice about committing a crime (not that I'm thinking about it in general).
On Friday, Evan and I were able to see our research from the beginning of the summer in action (circa week three blog). We attended a NCSC change management workshop for the Kyrgyzstan party on reformation in juvenile courts. Much of the research focused on common problems for juveniles in courts, as both offenders and victims, and different steps taken to make courts more child-friendly. The workshop was part of a month-long fellowship for two justices, which focused on how to implement change, impediments and strengths in the plan, and basic changes that could be implemented fairly easily. In Kyrgyzstan, there is no open opposition to helping children (always a good sign) but there is also no money allocated in the budget, which will make it much more difficult to implement real change. There is general support in legislation, but one of the main problems they are facing is that there is no perceived prestige of working in family or juvenile law. Many people work in the field for a severely limited period so they can move to a more prestigious industry, such as dangerous crimes. It is a slippery question about whether it is financially smart to invest money in training, if all the personnel will leave in three years anyway.
This weekend I went to the D.C. United game verses Houston Dynamo. I figure I have been to enough baseball games might as well complete the D.C. summer sports circle. It is the last season for United to be playing at RFK Stadium, so I suppose I saw a piece of history. Quite literally history, that stadium was basically falling apart. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures but you can always Google if you feel so inclined.
Side note, D.C. weather is crazy. It will torrentially downpour for five minutes (mostly when I am walking from the metro) and then clear up by the next five minutes. There is no consistency besides that it is going to be hot and humid, rain or shine.
That's all I've got, tune in one more time for the final installment. It'll be a good one. Well, maybe, I haven't actually thought that far ahead yet. Regardless, week ten coming soon.