High Court judge Carlisle Greaves would rather see the money government spends to house young people in jail, go towards employing them.
He made the comment on Friday as he spoke candidly to four offenders who settled fines with the court in connection with a criminal matter dating back 10 years.
Sherwin Ambrose Brathwaite, of 1st Avenue Hoyte’s Village, St James; Akeem Jamal Alleyne, of Forde’s Tenantry, Silver Hill, Christ Church; along with Dwayne Ricardo Gibson and Devere George Junior Small, both of Silver Hill, Christ Church, had to pay $5 000 each by Friday or face two years in jail.
Justice Greaves had imposed the sentence on the men for the offence of entering the Silver Fox Arcade, Christ Church as trespassers on January 13, 2011, and stealing $20 340 cash, an external hard drive, and a power supply – with cash and items totaling $21 080 – belonging to Palace Amusements Limited; as well as stealing a cellular phone, a wallet and $450 case, totaling $700, property of Michael Bramble, while carrying a firearm.
“Go away and behave yourselves and don’t get yourselves in any more trouble. No burglaries and firearms and things; that’s your last chance. You all are young, strong men; go and get something in your heads, learn a good trade, pick up a little job, even if you start cleaning the road. It is better to get something from that, doing something like that. There is no shame in the game until you could do better,” Greaves told the offenders.
“I would rather see my government spending money employing you all, keeping the drains and the trees, roads and everything clean . . . than having to spend money keeping you all in jail. To me, that is a real waste of human resources and financial resources. I am speaking to you as men, as a man, as a fella who was born poor just like you all.”
The judge also told the men that the money they had to pay for the crime could have been put to better use.
“You now waste a lot of money there and you could have done a lot of good things . . . go and buy some boards, buy some lumber with that money. Build a room, start up a little shop . . . do something, be an entrepreneur.
“Support your fellow man, don’t be jealous of what he has achieved or that kind of nonsense. Don’t envy anybody; support.
“We have to deliberately support our people. See a man got a little shop there, spend a little something just to make sure he keeps it open, don’t run up and spend all the money at the big rich people . . . . Look at your own, support your own. Stop pulling them down, stop robbing them and sticking them up with guns.”
Justice Greaves said while it is felt that he is a tough judge he is also one that is practical.
“I am a realist and it pains me, it hurts me, even though I make a living from this . . . every time I have to put away young people like you who look just like me. I have never enjoyed locking up anybody but I have no problem locking you up when you want locking up.
“If we can’t do anything to build up this country, if we can’t do anything to build up our people, we should do nothing to pull it down or pull down our people. A gun is of no help to you, robbing people is of no help to you, breaking into people’s houses is of no help to you. . .,” he said, adding that when offenders committed crimes for financial gain they tended to spend the money on “nonsense”.
He said he noticed a trend in such cases where young men take the illegally obtained money and hire cars.
“So, what happens, the man that owns the car, he gets rich and you keep poor and stupid. Do without it . . . . You want to buy brand name sneakers and pants that can’t even fit up on your waist, it makes no sense. The money gone quick so,” Justice Greaves said.
“The things that you work for you tend to appreciate more. The things that come easy or through evil and unlawful acts, you tend not to appreciate as much. Young men, walk the right path, do it for yourself, do it for your mum and father, your children; build up your race,” Greaves advised.