Pubdate: Thu, 25 Dec 2003
Source: Trinidad Express (Trinidad)
Copyright: 2003 Trinidad Express
Author: David Marine



Kevon Stewart is my great nephew. He is registered as a student of the Arima
Senior Comprehensive School. He is a Form Five student and is 18 years old.

On Tuesday, December 9, 2003, Kevon was arrested on the school compound by a
security guard with a 10-piece marijuana "tucked in his jersey under his
school shirt wrapped in foil paper", as evidence provided by the

Kevon is about five feet and weighs about 100 pounds or less. So emaciated
is he, often, when looking at his features, reminds one of Jack Palance, the
American film star. He is a single parent child, his father died about nine
years ago. He was a cripple at death and yet in that disabled state provided
for Kevon and his siblings as much as his good-heartedness allowed.

Kevon's undernourished state-his "frail" body-has to do with all the above
and more. He sometimes works as a watchman at night and goes to school by
day. Kevon's particular difficult circumstances induced in him a singular
purpose and determination to acquire an education. He harboured ambitions to
be an airline pilot.

Arima Senior Comprehensive has a culture and history of mindless violence.
One finds a lot of truant boys in attendance there.

Kevon's problem stems from the fact that he, against all odds, was focused.
This sense of mission became an irritant to delinquent boys and they were
always trying to enlist him into their fold. Kevon's resistance earned him a
severe beating not too long ago. This phenomenon would be admitted to by any
perceptive teacher. Nothing, they say, likes company like misery.

This illicit drug Kevon had in his possession on arrest was given to him by
one of the most notorious boys in the school to take to another boy. The boy
who gave him the marijuana was the self same boy who went and tell the
security guard "look that fella has marijuana".

I verily believe that Kevon knew that the parcel he was given was marijuana
but he dared not refuse from the sheer fear of the bullies. This explains
why he refused to tell the police and his mother, in spite of repeated
questioning, who gave him the marijuana. He only did so on Friday December
12, 2003 when she visited him.

Kevon's mother retained a lawyer but he was unaware because she was
prevented from speaking to him before he was brought to court on the morning
of the trial. She was also refused to give him a change of clothes.

Kevon's mother had reasons to believe that her son's trial was not going to
commence before 1 p.m., so she left the precincts of the court and returned
sometime at about 12.30 p.m. By that time Kevon was hauled before the
magistrate in handcuffs, this frail boy of 18 emaciated, with fear in his
eyes and trembling feet, his mother absent, his lawyer absent, feeling alone
and abandoned, he probably asked himself "who cares", he pleaded guilty.

Imagine a magistrate, a Minister of Justice trying and incarcerating a
school child in his mother's absence, a lawyer's absence no member of family
present, because she had decided before hand that any school child that
comes before her on drug offence would be sent "straight to jail". Is this
due process? Didn't he have the right to a fair trial before an adjudicating
magistrate without prejudice in her mind deciding before hand on September
30 when another student of the same school appeared before her by declaring
any one else "is straight jail". And remember this is Kevon's first
infraction with the law. A report from Kevon's school would have attested to
his discipline; a probation officer's report would have done the same.

It would take a study of morbid psychology to understand such an outrage.
The front page picture of Kevon being led away in handcuffs by a burly
looking policeman for the simple infraction of marijuana possession, I think
is a first-class piece of journalism for it demonstrated in stark relief how
obscene our judicial system is.

When we buy into the banalities and inanities of "zero tolerance" on crime;
when our constipated imagination cannot move beyond the asinine rhetoric of
the "criminal element", when we refuse to admit that crime is essentially a
social phenomena with seemingly unrelated contributory factors we can easily
and unwittingly commit crime in attempt to create a world without crime! In
this context I'm reminded of the serial killers who kill prostitutes, gays
and gypsies and embrace a religious posture of wanting to rid the world of
sin. Pathology assuming a posture of morality remains pathology, lawlessness
posing as law remains lawlessness.


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