Lawmakers join calls for leniency for Georgia college student jailed in the Caymans

Two of Georgia’s lawmakers have appealed the U.S. Embassy in the Cayman Islands to request leniency for Skylar Mack, the 18-year-old Mercer University pre-med student locked up for breaking COVID-19 restrictions.

Mack, along with her boyfriend Vanjae Ramgeet, 24, have been behind bars since Dec. 15. After both pleading guilty, a court on the island revised her sentence from four months to two months. Still, the family thinks that is too harsh of a punishment.

"She's scared to death, she's terrified over there. She's by herself. She has no one, she's having panic attacks," her mother, Rebecca Burt, said in a recent interview on Fox & Friends.

Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue agreed, writing to the Acting Consul General at the U.S. Embassy Kingston on Christmas day asking for her safe return.

"The threat posed to communities around the world by the COVID-19 pandemic should not be understated," the senators wrote. "We support the right of the Cayman Islands, as a British Overseas Territory, to enact appropriate regulations to protect the safety of its residents during this trying time and to impose fair sentences against those who violate such restrictions. Ms. Mack has admitted guilt, regrets her actions, paid a substantial fine, and been incarcerated for over a week. However, it is the sincere hope of her parents that she can safely and expeditiously return home to continue her studies as a pre-med student at Mercer University. Her family has also expressed serious concern about her safety, as she has received numerous threats against her life following the publicity of her case."

Mack, who is enrolled as a pre-med student at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, arrived in the Cayman Islands on Nov. 27 and was supposed to undergo a two-week quarantine as mandated by the government, which electronically tracks anyone who arrives in the British Caribbean territory.

However, she broke quarantine on Nov. 29 when her boyfriend picked her up to attend a water sports event, Hughes said. After their arrest, a judge ruled the couple had to provide 40 hours of community service and pay a $4,400 fine.

In addition, Ramgeet was ordered to a two-month curfew that would start at 7 p.m. But the prosecution appealed, arguing the punishment was unduly lenient and would not deter other possible violators.

A higher court decided in favor of prosecutors, ruling on Dec. 15 that the couple be imprisoned immediately.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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