Jamaican local government minister, Desmond McKenzie says he will be pushing for jail time for those caught littering.

Today, the only sanction for littering in Jamaica is a fine.  If you live on the island or have been there, you’ll see that the country has a serious problem with littering and proper waste disposal.  And the punishment for this offense does not seem to be working.

I have seen people throwing trash into the gully, school children tossing beverage containers onto the streets and drivers throwing trash out of their car window on my University campus.

Just last week, Marcus Garvey Drive was severely flooded supposedly due to a pile-up of garbage in the area.  Marcus Garvey Drive is a popular road way in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital.

By all accounts, littering has become part of our culture.  So, when I hear Mr. McKenzie talking about jail time, I have to question the practicality of his suggestion.  Can it change this culture of littering?

I don’t think jail time will solve much, in this case.  The prisons are already over-crowded and our legal system has a serious backlog of incomplete cases.  Not too long ago it was revealed that only 15% of court cases had been completed for last year.

Rather than jail time, i propose fining and ordering offenders to pick up litter as community service.  This will teach them the importance of waste disposal and give them a taste of their own medicine.  The humiliation of picking up litter in public should also discourage from repeat offending.

Plus, which Jamaican wants to be doing free labour in these times?!  Afterall, every Jamaican knows, ‘Freeness’ is something you receive, not something you give!

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