U.S. teen jailed in Cayman Islands for breaking COVID-19 rules
The family of a US college student jailed for violating coronavirus restrictions in the Cayman Islands calls on the Trump administration to intervene. Skylar Mack, an 18-year-old medical student at Mercer University in Georgia, was sentenced to four months in prison after breaking her mandatory quarantine.
"She just wants to come home," said her grandmother Jeanne Mack on Monday for the "Today" show. "She knows she made a mistake, she made it up to her, but she's pretty hysterical right now."
On November 27, Mack flew to Grand Cayman, where she was ordered to be quarantined for 14 days. She was given a smart bracelet and a cell phone to track her movements, according to her lawyer Jonathon Hughes. Mack signed a document and agreed not to leave her place of isolation without permission and not to remove her bracelet.
Two days later she was spotted at a jet ski competition with her boyfriend Vanjae Ramgeet, a resident of the Cayman Islands. Mack was not seen wearing her armband and both were reported to local police and taken to a mandatory quarantine facility.
On December 4, Mack was accused of leaving her home during the mandatory quarantine period and Ramgeet was accused of helping and supporting her, Hughes said. Later that day, they both received 40 hours of community service and a $ 2,600 fine each.
However, the prosecution appealed the verdict and called it mild. The Cayman Islands Grand Court agreed, and the young couple were sentenced to four months in prison, Hughes said.
"We are not asking for an exception," Jeanne Mack told Today. "We ask you not to be the exception."
Judge Roger Chapple stated his decision at the hearing on December 15. "This was as blatant a violation as you can imagine. It was carried by selfishness and arrogance," Chapple said, according to the Cayman Compass newspaper. "This was entirely deliberate and planned, as evidenced by her desire to swap out her bracelet the day before for a looser one that she could then remove."
The Cayman Islands have reported 311 positive coronavirus cases. More than 280 patients have recovered while two residents have died.
Hughes plans to argue for a lesser sentence in an appeals court on Tuesday. "The court will have a special session tomorrow morning and we hope to reach a decision soon after," said Hughes.
The State Department said Monday it was working to provide "all appropriate consular assistance" to US citizens detained abroad. "The State Department is aware of reports of the detention of a US citizen in the Cayman Islands," the State Department said in a statement. "For data protection reasons we have no further comment.
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