Letters & Opinion, Sounding Off

Send Us Your Prisoners? Are You Serious?

SO I’ve been quiet for some time now, but Lord knows I can no longer hold my tongue on the worrying and quite frankly nonsensical news I am hearing in the height of this Irma drama.

I am no NEMO ambassador, I am not a member of the St. Lucia Red Cross, nor am I a Salvation Army volunteer. But I would gladly change that status and fly over there if given the opportunity to help out in whatever way I can.

Another thing I would be all in for is to help with temporary housing for people from the islands most affected. Heck, I even had discussions with my partner to see if we could take in a child who has no family and is in need of a home albeit temporarily, of course.

This would actually warm my heart to near melting point if St. Lucians would open their doors to families in need of shelter.

But mésyé, why on earth is our PM talking about taking in, of all sets of people, prisoners from said islands?

I was momentarily lost for words on that one. I really couldn’t understand this gesture, like absolutely nothing about it whatsoever.

On our tiny island, where Bordelais Correctional Facility is already chockful of men and women, why would the PM come up with this folly? Where is he going to put them? Unless, of course, he has a bunker that’s jailbird-ready in his back yard. Who is going to look after them? Our already over-run prison officers? Who is going to pay for them? Aye, I think I am ready for my Sandals-styled tax exemption because I sure as hell am 100% opposed to my hardearned tax dollars going towards paying for other islands’ prisoners.

It sucks enough to know that I am paying for hardened local criminals to get fat and thrive at Hotel De Bordelaise while I slave away just to earn a buck, far less knowing that I will now be paying to feed and house foreign prisoners? How is us, uh?

Yes, they are human, too…blah, blah, blah. But in the legendary words of Clark Gable in “Gone With The Wind”: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

I don’t know what Chastanet is trying to prove, and to whom. But, for once — just for once — I’m hoping that he can think about the island and the people of the island that he is in charge of because this idea is anything but wise.

Already, we have prisoners breaking out of prison, we have rapists being let out on bail accidentally (I still can’t wrap my head around that one) and now on the run, and you’re telling me that you want to open our people to the possibility of criminals from other islands — with God knows what kind of background and capabilities, for committing God knows what kinds of crime — coming here to influence local prisoners or, even worse, break out and terrorise St. Lucians?

Again, I say, how is us? How is here? Chè-ou ni kò sa?

I have heard that on a personal level, the PM is a genuinely kind-hearted man and I don’t doubt that for one second. But, Sir, I think I can safely speak for the masses when I say, in this instant, I think you’re being a bit too kind. You really don’t have to go this far, so like my grandmother used to say: “Hapes, chébé brakes!”

There are so many other ways in which you, Mr. PM, can show how hospitable and charitable St. Lucia is. We can gather and send over pretty much all the options on the list of what is needed to these islands. We can make monetary donations. I’m also sure there are many households that can even afford to take in small families. But, please, taking in prisoners is not the way to go.

While we’re here, I would like to take this opportunity to have a petty moment. Just remember when St. Lucia was in need following Hurricane Tomas, look at how we were treated by the former Trinidadian Prime Minister, who basically told us they would only help us if we help them back. Surely, you remember when Kamla Persad-Bissessar said “There must be some way in which Trinidad and Tobago would also benefit.”

So my take is this: if at least some of the islands can so blatantly tell you that their best interest comes first, why are you in such a rush to push our best interests aside to welcome the worst of other nations with arms wide open?
I really think you should return to the drawing board on this one, Mr. PM, and here’s an idea. How about you run a consensus with your fellow St. Lucians? I’m talking about a nationwide consensus where the people have their say and tell you whether they want foreign prisoners to come to our island. After all, it is OUR island. I think you should remember that every once in a while.

1 Comment

  1. This piece is flawed in a few ways, I think. St. Lucia has previously housed prisoners from Grenada following Hurricane Ivan’s destruction there. It wouldn’t be a first time.

    Secondly, while one may take shots at the gesture and people think more of the sexier offers like education and ground support, cash and the like, at the end of the day safely housing prisoners is a very real and legitimate logistical challenge in the face of a disaster. Sure, it’s not my first choice and I’m not sure I would have “offered” but the this is not to suggest that it isn’t a legitimate need.

    Thirdly, the then-TnT PM was rightly censured across the region for that stance…there was sharp rebuke and even an active boycott TnT campaign. I know. I joined the FB group. Hers isn’t example to be followed by any means. We need each other in this region and we clearly need to do a better job of showing our people (including the writer) how delicately symbiotic our relationships are (and ought to be).

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