*An 18-year-old college student’s white privilege ran into a brick wall in the Cayman Islands and has landed her in prison.
Skylar Mack, of Georgia, is facing a four-month sentence after removing her electronic tracking device and leaving her residence before her mandatory 14-day quarantine was finished – so she could watch her boyfriend in a jet-ski competition.
The college student and her boyfriend, 24-year-old Vanjae Ramgeet of the Cayman Islands, were both sentenced to four months for violating the strict COVID-19 measures. They had both pleaded guilty, but their attorney, Jonathon Hughes, said he will argue for a less severe sentence next week.
Mack is a pre-med student at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. She arrived in the Cayman Islands on Nov. 27 and was supposed to spend two-weeks in quarantine as mandated by the government, which electronically tracks anyone who arrives in the British Caribbean territory. However, she broke quarantine on Nov. 29 when her boyfriend picked her up to attend his jet-ski event.
After their arrest, a judge ruled the couple had to provide 40 hours of community service and pay a $4,400 fine. In addition, Ramgeet was ordered to a two-month curfew that would start at 7 p.m. But the prosecution appealed, arguing the punishment was unduly lenient and would not deter other possible violators. A higher court decided in favor of prosecutors, ruling on Dec. 15 that the couple be imprisoned immediately.
Judge Roger Chapple said during Tuesday’s sentencing that the decision to violate safety measures was born of “selfishness and arrogance,” adding in its report that Mack spent seven hours out in public without a face mask or social distancing, according to the Cayman Compass newspaper.
“This was entirely deliberate and planned, as evidenced by her desire to switch her wristband the day before to a looser one that she was then able to remove,” he was quoted as saying, referring to the electronic tracking device.
Hughes said the sentence is the first of its kind, adding that Mack’s family is concerned: “They’re worried for her because she’s in prison in a foreign country on her own. While this is something she brought on herself, it’s very distressing for her.”
The girl’s grandmother, Jeanne Mack, told the AP that she reached out to U.S. President Donald Trump and received an email from a staffer saying the White House would look into the matter.
The couple are the first to be sentenced under an amended law targeting COVID-19 violators. The original law called for a $2,400 fine and up to six months in prison, while the recently amended law calls for a $12,000 fine and up to two years in prison.
The Cayman Islands, a territory of nearly 62,000 people, has reported more than 300 coronavirus cases and two deaths.