Senators support leniency for Georgia college student jailed in Cayman Islands

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FILE- In this July 15, 2020, file photo Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., puts on a face mask as she walks with Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., right, at UPS Hapeville Airport Hub in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A pre-med college student jailed in the Cayman Islands for violating COVID-19 quarantine regulations has received the support of Georgia’s senators.

On Christmas Day, Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler sent a letter to the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, on behalf of 18-year-old Skylar Mack.

“We write today in regard to the recent arrest and detainment of Skylar Mack, a U.S. citizen and resident of Georgia, in the Cayman Islands,” the senators wrote. “It is our understanding that Ms. Mack has formally requested the Prerogative of Mercy and we wish to express our support for her family’s call for leniency.”

The Mercer University student broke a government-mandated two-week quarantine on Nov. 29 with her boyfriend, Vanjae Ramgeet, 24, of the Cayman Islands. According to the couple’s attorney, Ramgeet picked Mack up to attend a water sports event. The Cayman Compass newspaper reported Mack also spent seven hours in public without a face mask or social distancing.

The couple’s initial sentence was to provide 40 hours of community service and pay a $4,400 fine. However, the prosecution appealed, arguing the punishment was too lenient and wouldn’t deter others from violating the mandate.

A higher court then decided on a four-month sentence, which was later reduced to two months in prison after an appeal.

The senators said that while the threat of COVID-19 shouldn’t be understated, and they support the right of the Cayman Islands to protect its residents, they also support Mack’s family’s call for leniency.

“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,” Perdue and Loeffler wrote. “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.”

As of Dec. 24, the Cayman Islands has reported 318 confirmed cases and two deaths among the 62,000 people living there.

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