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Crime, patience and mosquitoes

Jamaica Observer 2019-01-11 00:00:00

CRIME and punishment is a serious matter all over the world. How each country deals with handling the law can be very interesting. Law officials deal with what goes in to court and what comes out based on how they view their society and what they want from it.

Looking through the papers a story caught my attention: The Associated Press reported on a situation taking place in Tennessee, USA. The story read: “A woman who says she was a sex-trafficking victim when she killed a man in 2004 was granted clemency by Tennessee's governor and will be released from prison later this year.” The details involve a young woman, with the unusual name of Cyntoia Brown, whose life was hard from birth. Her mother was a drug addict who gave her up for adoption soon after birth. Cyntoia ended up on the streets at age 16, where she says she was forced into a brutal life of prostitution and petty crimes. She was picked up by a man one night and during the course of their encounter she shot him dead. She has claimed in self-defence. She was arrested, charged and sentenced to 51 years in prison. There is more to the story and what she did and admitted to in court, but, regardless of the circumstances, many have said that the sentence was particularly harsh.

The American justice system doesn't make jokes. The old saying goes, “If you do the crime, you must pay the time,” but it is also true that some people are penalised more than others. There is no denying that their justice system has been known to come down hard on people of colour in the USA.

In December of last year news came of one of our Jamaican youngsters finding out just how serious they are about law and order over there. Reports told the story of an 18-year old Jamaican teenager who recently went to live in the USA. After being there for little over a year “him head mussi tek him” and in some gang warfare, he shot and killed a 12-year-old boy. The Connecticut Post confirmed that 18-year-old Tajay Chambers has been charged with murder with special circumstances, carrying a pistol without a permit, second-degree larceny and risk of injury to a child. The authorities in Connecticut are treating him as an adult, and he will no doubt find himself growing old and grey in prison.


Patience for shutdown

Many eyes have been watching with some interest this continuing drama of the US Government shutdown. Moving into the third week, government workers and contractors have been left stranded as they wait to get their pay while politicians argue over a wall or a fence or some other contraption to keep the “unwanted” out of their country. I'm pretty sure there are some members of our Diaspora family who have been caught up in this strange saga.

Foreign news reporters have been telling of people unable to pay their rent, feed their families, pay their bills. Others are still working without pay, or have been told to stay home and wait until the shutdown comes to some sort of conclusion. The question is: Can you imagine if Jamaican workers found themselves in a similar situation? I hardly think we would sit and wait for the politicians to work it out. Old-time people say, “Patient man ride donkey,” well, let's see how long this donkey ride continues.


Dengue on the rise

Back here at home, we are dealing with an upsurge in dengue cases. The Ministry of Health has issued statements warning us to take precautions to avoid the illness which can have deadly outcomes. Reports have stated there have been over 100 cases of dengue fever since last December, and there have been reported deaths caused from complications.

It is time to take heed of the regular instructions to clean up our surroundings and make sure that there are no places where the deadly mosquito can take up residence. The ministry advises to use repellent sprays and other mosquito-banishing methods to avoid being bitten by the annoying insect.

If you do get sick, take time to know the symptoms. The milder form of dengue comes with a high fever, headache and pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, and a rash. If this is accompanied by bleeding, for example from the nose or gums, then it could be the more serious form of dengue haemorrhagic fever and that can be very deadly.

Please take care of friends and families. Don't joke it out. The year 2019 just start, let's keep on keeping on for the year ahead.


Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or