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American student family jailed for quarantine violation pleads for release

The family of an 18-year-old student who broke Cayman Islands coronavirus laws on a trip last month pleaded for her release from prison ahead of a hearing Tuesday before a panel of judges who will decide whether her appeal can wanted. .

“She’s crying, she wants to come home,” the student’s grandmother, Jeanne Mack, told NBC’s “Today” show Monday. “She knows she made a mistake. She admits that, but she’s pretty hysterical right now.

Skylar Mack and her boyfriend, Vanjae Ramgeet, 24, were sentenced to four months in prison after violating the 14-day quarantine period required by Cayman Island for visitors.

In late November, when her semester at Mercer University in Georgia was over, Ms. Mack flew to the Cayman Islands to watch her boyfriend compete in the Islands National Jet Ski Racing Championship.

When she arrived, however, there was a problem.

She arrived on a Friday; the championship was on Sunday. And according to the laws of the country, she was required to stay in her hotel room for 14 days before traveling elsewhere on the islands.

To escape the restrictions, Ms Mack, after receiving a negative coronavirus test, slipped an electronic monitoring bracelet off her wrist and escaped to a beach in southern Grand Cayman, where she saw Mr Ramgeet win the race. first place.

But authorities found out and Ms Mack and Mr Ramgeet were sentenced last week to four months in prison for quarantine violations.

“It was as blatant a violation as one might imagine,” Judge Roger Chapple said in court upon sentencing, according to Cayman Compass, a Cayman Islands news site. “He was born out of selfishness and arrogance.”

The islands, a British territory of nearly 65,000 inhabitants, reported 316 infections and two deaths on Monday.

Relatives of Ms Mack in suburban Atlanta have made efforts to collect letters from friends and family attesting to her character in order to have the sentence overturned on appeal, said Jeanne Mack, 68.

Jeanne Mack also wrote to President Trump for help. She received a response last week from the Presidential Correspondence Office indicating that her correspondence had been forwarded “to the competent federal body for further action”.

Judge Chapple said in court last week that “the gravity of the violation was such that the only appropriate sentence would have been immediate imprisonment,” according to the Cayman Compass.

The family and Skylar, a junior pre-med student, have no illusions about what happened, her grandmother said: What she did was wrong.

“I’ll do anything to get you home, and when I get you here, I’m going to kick your ass,” said Jeanne Mack. “We’re not saying ‘poor innocent Skylar.’ We’re just saying the punishment doesn’t match the crime.

Skylar Mack pleaded guilty to breaking quarantine rules and was initially sentenced to 40 hours of community service and a fine. But the sentence was increased after the prosecutor appealed.

Jeanne Mack said if the panel of judges decides on Tuesday that her appeal can be continued, the family will hope she will be released on bail pending the appeal.

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