Pubdate: Tue, 16 Dec 2003
Source: Trinidad Express (Trinidad)
Copyright: 2003 Trinidad Express
Author: L Ramesar


The Editor: I was outraged and sickened to read that an 18-year-old student 
was sent to jail for six months with hard labour for having $10 worth of 
marijuana in the school compound.

This is much too harsh a punishment, especially if this is a first offence.

What is worse is that, according to one news report, the magistrate had 
announced earlier, after noting that several students had come before her 
on marijuana charges, that the next student would go "straight to jail".

Isn't something patently wrong with this? Doesn't a magistrate have to look 
at each case on its own merit? Shouldn't a magistrate be censured for 
deciding beforehand that the next person to be guilty on a charge should go 
to jail?

Clearly this young man was the victim of an unjust and cruel decision from 
a magistrate who thinks it would serve society better to have him 
languishing in jail rather than receive counselling and sit his CXC exams.

Why are adults so intent on vilifying young people these days? Everyday 
young people see adults bad-driving one another, cussing, killing, 
stealing, mismanaging their staff, inciting racial hatred, abusing drugs 
and alcohol, so it's no wonder that they are out of control.

Instead of showing our children a good example (and yes, a big 18-year-old 
is still one of our children), we are messing up in every aspect of life 
and expect them to walk a straight road.

Now that we have failed them we send police to rough them up on the streets 
and patrol their schools. And send them to jail for stupidness. These are 
our children, we have made them so, and it's time we stop blaming them and 
take responsibility for what we are doing.

Society has judged Kevon Stewart. The magistrate has sent him to jail and a 
lot of other self-righteous people have agreed with her. To all of you I 
say I hope you never have someone in your family who needs help because you 
will be totally useless to them.

To the family, friends and teachers of Kevon Stewart, I say stick by him, 
give him all the support you can because what he needs is not jail but love 
and understanding.

L Ramesar

Port of Spain