ST CROIX, USVI — On Friday, Governor Kenneth Mapp submitted a proposed bill to implement and provide for the speedy trial of persons charged with criminal offenses in the US Virgin Islands. The measure titled the “Virgin Islands Speedy Trial Act” is intended to strike a balance between protecting the rights of those charged with criminal offenses and the interest of the community in holding the judicial branch accountable for the effective and efficient administration of justice.
In his transmittal of the proposed bill to the Senate president, the governor said, “It is disheartening that individuals can be charged with crimes, but have to wait substantially long periods before having their day in court. In some cases, there are detainees who have, and continue to wait as long as three years for their trial on charges not even as egregious as murder. There is nothing speedy about a criminal trial process that takes multiple years to resolve.”
Mapp also pointed to the expense and strain on government resources associated with holding detainees awaiting trial: “[S]uch delays in turn costs the government substantial monetary resources to house, feed, and provide medical services to persons who have not been convicted of any crime.”
“Enacting a speedy trial act in the territory, like that at the federal level and most states, will ensure accountability of each level of the criminal justice system”, the governor said.