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Vincentian Judge gives timely advice

Vincentian Judge gives timely advice

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A Vincentian born judge, sitting on the bench in the United States, has expressed concern about the number of Caribbean youths who are becoming entangled in the criminal justice system in the United States.{{more}}

Sharon Commissiong-Gianelli, a judge in the Nassau County, Long Island District Court, was the featured speaker at a gala luncheon put on by the Consulate General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines of New York, and the Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organisation USA, Inc. (COSAGO) to celebrate this country’s 32nd anniversary of independence.

She spoke on the topic “Saving Our Nation – Unity – Saving Our Children”, at the sold out function, which was held at the Tropical Inn Ballroom, located on 1367 Utica Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.

“As a judge, I preside over criminal cases, and it is with regret that I say that I’ve noticed a marked increase in the number of our young people who have become entangled in the criminal justice system. Moreover, for those of our children who are not U.S. citizens, the stakes have become even higher and the consequences even greater”, Commissiong-Gianelli said.

“That is because the immigration laws have become much stricter, resulting in many young people who have been here since they were small children being deported back to their native country, and away from their immediate families, and away from the bright future that their parents had envisioned for them”, the Judge stated.

“It is not uncommon to have immigration officials waiting outside courts or courtrooms to pick up and detain individuals in federal custody, while they prepare them for deportation,” the keynote speaker observed.

“That is what concerns me. That is what disturbs me. That is what I think about every time a young person comes before me. And that is what motivates me to do what I can in my judicial capacity to change that path to one that, to the extent possible, preserves that young person’s freedom and likewise that young person’s future – because with all of the challenges facing us, we must act to save our country, and in order to save our country, we must save our youth”, Commissiong-Gianelli said.

She claimed that a recent study in New York State revealed that 89 per cent of youths who were incarcerated became recidivists, or repeat offenders.

“What is even sadder and more alarming is that many of the remaining eleven per cent ended up dead. Those are alarming statistics indeed. And those statistics are our children, yours and mine. And those statistics demand that we take note. And those statistics demand that we take action – in Brooklyn, Long Island, the Bronx, upstate – all over. Those children are our nation’s future”, she added.

“So, how do we save our youth and thereby save our nation and in so doing, protect our collective future?” Commissiong – Gianelli questioned.

The feature speaker declared that there is no magical or instant solution to such a complex matter.

“God instructs us that faith without works is dead. So, let us each in our own way attach works to our faith that enrich the lives around us, that bring us together, and that help to save our youth and our nation. Let us be grateful for the opportunities that America provides us. Let us be grateful and prideful that St. Vincent is our home and our foundation”, she advised.

“And let us remember that it is that pride, that dignity, that strong belief in God, that strong set of values, that respect and yearning for education, and that strong sense of character, determination, and love of our families, our children, and our nation that must bring us back together, that must keep us unified, and that must serve to motivate us to do what is necessary to save our children and our nation”, she said.

The judge, in her presentation, reminded the audience, “I am a proud Vincentian, born in Arnos Vale, lived in Paul’s Lot, Stoney Ground, and spent most of my formative years in Questelles”.

Last Sunday’s luncheon also saw the honouring of Simeon Simmons, Ynolde Walkin and Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas.

Live entertainment came from calypsonian Alston “Becket” Cyrus, as well as Frankie Mc Intosh and the Eqwazion Band.

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