Cry Little Brother
Hear this joke.
There was a little boy who was playing in the forest. He was only six years old so he didn’t realise that it was getting late. When the sun started going down, he began to get worried. However, while trying to find his way out of the forest he met a man. The boy was relieved because the man could help him. The man took him by the hand and they started walking. But they kept walking and walking, further and further, into the forest. They kept going deeper and deeper and it was getting darker and darker. The little boy tugged the hand of the man and said, “Mister, I getting scared.”. The man looked down at the boy and said, “You think you scared? I have to walk out of here alone.”
Not funny? Ok, how about this one.
One Sunday afternoon, 15 years ago, a six-year-old boy met two other boys he knew. One was thirteen, the other sixteen. The teenagers approached invited the little boy to play with them in a sugarcane field. The little boy went missing a few days later. True to form, Trinidad police were slow to find any leads so his family contacted the US State Department. After the Americas got involved, the little boy was found, dead in the cane field.
It was revealed that the two teenagers had stripped him, held him down and plunged a cane stalk into his little body. They sodomised the little boy with the stalk, repeatedly thrusting it into him until it punctured his lungs and other organs. The little boy’s death was slow, as he bled internally. The teens were held and it was up to Trinidad’s judicial system to place a sentence. Since the teens were minors, they did not receive the death penalty. Instead, the judge presiding over the case presented a starting point of 35 years and 33 years for imprisonment.
Now hear the funny part.
A whole 15 years passed. The two teenagers, who grew up to be hard back men, both had the years spent awaiting trial shaved off from their minimum term of imprisonment. In the end, the two men were sentenced a minimum of 17 years and 11 years each.
What a joke eh?
Most people already knew that no matter the form of justice that would be meted out to his killers, it would not bring Sean Luke back from the dead. Even if the sentencing was harsher, it would never erase what happened to Sean Luke. The past cannot be changed.
But it can be repeated.
One of the arguments presented by the accused men’s lawyers was that during their time spent locked up they made “progress” and were well on their way to rehabilitation. According to the ruling, by the time they’re in their forties and back in society, the possibility of them ever committing a crime would be minimal.
However, in 2019 a Joint Select Committee on Social Services and Public Administration revealed that the recidivism rate (the tendency of a criminal to reoffend) stood around 51 percent. According to the National Security Ministry, the recidivism rate was 50 percent in 2014, 54 percent in 2015, 51 percent in 2016, 55 percent in 2017 and 51 per cent in 2018.
It should be noted that this was an overall figure and I don’t have the recidivism rate as it relates to offenses involving sexual violence and murders. However, it was revealed that in 2019, that just over 75 percent of Trinidad’s prison population comprised of persons who were convicted of serious crimes.
All these figures indicate that a large majority of the prison population committed serious crime and more than half the people released into society end right back into the system.
It seems that no matter what, the monsters can easily find their way out of the forest.
Deeper and Deeper
I was 19 when Sean Luke was killed, not much older than the men who killed him. At the time I remember the entire country was in an uproar over the brutal murder. At the time of writing, the main news story is Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s testicles allegedly getting swollen and impotent from the COVID-19 vaccine. Unlike the sentencing of the two men who murdered Sean Luke, that story garnered global attention, even making it as a joke on Stephen Colbert’s late-night propaganda talk show. The impotence of this country’s judicial system through the sentencing of Sean Luke’s killers was met with much less regard.
Sometimes it feels as if the further we “progress” as a society, the more the years accumulate, the easier it becomes to ignore the horror that exists in our country. We’re experts at making a joke out of everything and anything. When is time to cry, we does laugh. It is what it is, I suppose.
I cannot say that the men who murdered Sean Luke will reoffend again, when they are released. I hope that they will fall in the 49 percent. What I can say is Sean Luke died when his was just six years old. His life ended before it ever really began. There is no present, or future for him. Years from now he will be another story in a collection of crime tales from the island. While the men who murdered him still have a future, Sean Luke will remain the little boy who was brutally raped and murdered, forever trapped in the past.
There’s nothing funny about that.
Written September 2021