I write to you today with 2 days of built up anger in my heart.
Why am I angry? Because Jamaica has yet again proven itself to be a country that is incapable of dealing with its many social and moral issues.
The Government has always had trouble controlling the country’s violence, as stories of completely inhumane and seemingly unrealistic crimes committed to people of all ages, colours and sizes circulate in the country on a daily basis.
In April of this year, Jamaica was in the news for an alleged “hijacking” by a 23-year old Stephen Fray. He was able to skip through all security points and board a CanJet airplane headed to Cuba. No one was injured in the process, nothing was robbed, and one shot was said to be fired in the air by Fray, who demanded to be flown to Cuba.
By the grace of God, Jamaican police officers fired no shots at him, and he was induced by family members to disembark in the wee hours of the morning. The rest of us, who were awakened by phone calls of the shocking news, could only sit in front of the television, pray for his and everyone’s safety, and watch it all unfold.
He was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia – a diagnosis that was thrown out by the Jamaican court system.
The trial was held on September 27 – yes he had to sit in jail for 5 months without bail – and he was found guilty on all charges. Maybe our familial relations has made me a biased source, but I strongly believe with every fiber of my being that the sentencing of 83 years – 20 to be served – that he received 2 days ago is malicious, ruthless, and quite barbaric.
Instead of focusing on lagging airport security and mental health awareness, the Jamaican government chose to “make an example” of him by sentencing him to more years than they do the average rapist and murderer – if they are even sentenced at all.
My cousin put it better than I can:
” I am absolutely disgusted at the outcome of young Stephen Fray’s court case. The final verdict was inhumane, to say the least, and unjust in every aspect. It is a disgrace that Jamaica calls itself a developing country when it is completely negligent towards providing good health care to citizens, more so, the mentally ill.
It has been said that Stephen’s sentence, to serve twenty out of eighty-three years in prison, was to set an example to Jamaican citizens highlighting the basis that “if you do the crime, you do the time.” I strongly believe that is utter foolishness. Why then do we have murderers, rapists, and child molesters rampant in the streets? Stephen Fray is an innocent young man who is only guilty of having Schizophrenia, a mental illness that he has no control over without treatment.
What happened that night of April 19, 2009 caused a lot of international attention on Jamaica. Now how embarrassing is it on our country when other nations see how inhumane our government is towards our citizens, especially our youth? Over the years the Jamaican government has found it so hard to tackle the crime and violence in the country, yet they are comfortable imprisoning a young innocent youth. Why must Stephen Fray suffer because of an unstable government? The example that the Jamaican government should have set is that of humanity and understanding.
Political persuasion should not have deliberated Stephen’s sentencing. They have completely robbed Stephen of his youth, freedom, and right to receive proper medical attention as a Jamaican citizen.
We need to speak out, reach out and change the face of our country. Words are powerful and voices are effective. Our youth are our future and Stephen Fray’s promising future should not have been taken away from him. All Stephen needed was help; all our youth need is help. We need to stop being negligent and start doing the right thing for a change. The world is watching! ”
Its not over cousin. We will continue fighting until justice is served.