Opinion: Macho Chucky

POSTED: 01/12/12 3:51 PM

A curious incident happened in the courthouse yesterday. As we report on our front page today, a defendant told the court in an expletive-laden tirade that he’d had enough and that he wanted to leave. While he was wildly gesticulating after jumping up from his chair, the 21-year-old defendant was quietly approached by the guards that were present. They quietly told him to sit down, but though he did not do this, he calmed down sufficiently to enable the guards to handcuff him and take him away.

We marveled at the professional approach of the guards. Honestly, we were bracing ourselves for a rather ugly bout in front of our resident judge and some live police-brutality. That none of this happened: chapeau.

But here’s the thing. This defendant, a youngster who has barely started his adult life, is already serving an 18-year prison sentence for a series of violent armed robberies. During one of these robberies a man lost his life. Now the same defendant is facing an additional 8 years in prison for a violent robbery and kidnapping he was allegedly involved in while he was on the run for the law: in March of last year he escaped from the Pointe Blanche prison. In March of this year he will have to appear in court again – though it is actually accurate to say that he has the right to appear in court – to face charges for his escape. This offense carries a standard prison sentence of 1 year/.

One could say: for years to come, his goose is cooked.  This is of course exactly the way the defendant, known all over the island as Chucky, sees his life. His future is not outside the Pointe Blanche prison. It is on the inside. So he has a vested interest in showing the world that does not want anything to do with him anymore, what a macho he is.

The sad reality is of course that Chucky is a basket case. Because he escaped from prison, he did not attend the trial that earned him an 18-year-prison sentence last year. He also let his right to appeal expire because he was on the run. His attitude in court yesterday will certainly not give our resident judge a lot of reasons to mitigate the 8-year prison sentence the prosecution demanded for his latest crime.

Two of his co-defendants, the brothers Roberto and Ronaldo, sat quietly thorough the procedures. At the defense’s request, Roberto underwent a psychiatric evaluation. He already spent time in the Capriles Clinic in Curacao and he is a current client of the Mental Health Foundation. His brother Ronaldo was subjected to a psychological evaluation.

But the man who needed such an evaluation the most – our basket case Chucky – never got one. This is where we get mixed feelings about this young defendant and about the community he lives in.

Of course his behavior is outrageous. Of course the crimes he committed are atrocious. Of course he needs to go to jail for a very, very long time.

And at the same time, we see that this young man needs help, and he needs it badly. In Pointe Blanche nobody will stand up for him to make sure he gets the treatment he needs. And Chucky is to deep in his rut to even realize that he needs help in the first place.

The easy way out is to write comments like, “He gets what he deserves” – and up to a point that is true. But those among us that feel that we all belong to the same universe may look differently at this situation.

When we stick Chucky in jail for – oh, altogether maybe 27 years of which he will probably serve something like 16 or 17 – and forget about him until he comes out, we fail as a society. We’re not claiming that some shrink has the power to turn this lost young man into the ideal son-in-law, far from that. But we think that everybody at such a young age needs some sort of perspective. The way Chucky is going however, he is going to be a high profile inmate, but when he comes out he will be a bigger threat to himself and to his environment than he is right now.

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