Defence attorney warns J’cans against felony convictions
NEW YORK, United States — A leading defence attorney in the Jamaican community here, Donald P Vernon, has warned against felony conviction, saying it can cause a loss of assets and seriously affect one’s immigration status, including the deportation of anyone convicted of felony offences.
He also warned Saturday that the cost of defending an accused person on felony charges “is enormous” and could lead to substantial loss of assets, “including your house”.
The attorney issued the dire warning during an address at a forum on raising awareness about the consequences of incarceration, especially among young people.
The forum was organised by the Brooklyn-based Jamaican non-profit organisation, the Ex-Correctional Officers Association of Jamaica and the North Bronx Seventh-day Adventist Church, and was held at the church’s Bronxwood Avenue location.
In addition to the the loss of assets and the effect on one’s immigration status, Vernon said that “felony conviction remains on the record of those convicted for life, as it cannot be removed”.
The attorney said that such a situation can lead to the denial of federal assistance in several areas and may even affect the pursuit of securing a good education.
In his address, the president of the Ex-Correctional Officers Association of Jamaica, Ronnie Hammick, said that too many “young adults are ending up being incarcerated”.
He called for the beginning of a movement among young people in every community and school in the boroughs of New York City that will work against incarceration.
Your motto should be “never to enter a penal institution except as an agent of the state”, he urged the audience.
Representatives of the New York Police Department, the Bronx Parole Department, Family Unification and Resettlement Initiative — a non-profit body which works to resettle deported Jamaicans — as well as officers of the North Bronx SDA church also addressed the forum.
— Harold G Bailey