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Friday, February 3, 2023
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Crime and Justice

Dear Source:
What is happening in the VI? Murders and terrible crimes everywhere – and it seems little is being done to prevent or solve these crimes. I agree that it is a shame to have bad publicity in the national media – but that is not the real problem. What's terrible is the seeming inability of law enforcement to catch and keep the criminals, and the effect the situation is having on the fabric of the community as a whole.
Everyone who has written to the Source seems upset with the "bad image" that the news gives the VI. Well, maybe the reality is what creates the bad image. CNN and the Cockayne family and lawyer were not wrong to focus on the pace of progress in that case. What is wrong with national attention in the Cockayne case?
It IS immoral and unjust that white crime victims get attention that others do not. But what this means is that black victims deserve the same attention as white ones, not that there should be no criticism at all. This is America – you don't stamp out criticisms of the government because someone is publicly saying the emperor has no clothes. You face facts, and dress the emperor!
From the Source article and CNN reports, it seems the local authorities believe the police can't arrest someone, and the courts should not hold them in custody after arrest, without sufficient evidence (other evidence or only eyewitness testimony?) to convict the suspect. This puts the cart before the horse – there is not the same standard of proof! Otherwise we wouldn't even need to have trials – just arrest the person, see if the police had proof beyond a reasonable doubt (at the time of the arrest) and if not stop things right there. That's not how the system is intended to work – the trial, not the arrest, is what requires proof "beyond a reasonable doubt". Setting a high bail to be sure that person shows up for trial is not the same thing as convicting and sentencing them without proof.
Even so, I'm not sure I understood the news report that the judge could not hold the defendant because he might not be properly before the court. What does this mean? It really seems not to make sense because then the defendant was placed under house arrest – and ordered to seek gainful employment and get training to learn a trade. If the defendant was not properly before the court, what authority did the judge have to order anything at all? Being property before the court is not the same thing as being proven guilty of the crime. But being ordered to get certain training and a job sounds kind of like a sentence. This just doesn't make sense.
Meanwhile, other crimes seem to be going unsolved. What IS happening with the murder of the National Guardsman at the ATM? With the murder of Mr. Morton who was found in the trunk of the car at Peterborg? Was there ever an arrest in the home invasion up at the Pinnacle? Your editorial mentioned the murders two years ago of Leon Roberts and Tristan Charlier – but whatever happened to that? Were these crimes solved? These are all horrible, terrible crimes and deserve the very best that the Virgin Islands and the United States of America can provide.
I love the Virgin Islands and continually tell everyone about the wonderful years I lived there. The people of the Virgin Islands dramatically, yet gently and with love, changed my life for the better. I am ever grateful for the gifts shared and lessons taught, and try to pass them on to the mainland culture. (We say "good morning", "good afternoon"; we honk and let people into traffic; and those are just the little things). We tell everyone we meet how amazing the islands and their people are, and encourage all to visit. To me, the Virgin Islands are truly a glimpse of Paradise, not just because of the sparkling blue waters, golden sandy beaches and swaying palm trees – but because of the genuine, graceful, loving people of the Virgin Islands and great sense of community there. The people of the Virgin Islands are beautiful through and through. And they deserve the very best freedom, protection, and justice that there can be – even if it comes as the result of a little bad publicity.
Mary Beth Arceneaux Dionne
New Orleans

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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