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December 14, 2010

By: Joel Cohen


This past August we attended a "destination wedding" in Jamaica—hottest weekend of the summer, and right in the middle of the hurricane season. Still, it turned out very nice and joyous for us. But not for everyone. 

Why? Two days after the wedding, one woman who attended with her husband was passing through Montego Bay airport security on the way back to the States. A corporal (two chevrons on right sleeve) in the Jamaican Constabulary Force, the airport gens d'armes, inspected her belongings and claimed he found a bullet (although no gun) in the woman's carry-on bag. 

The woman, irate at the mere thought of being accused of trying to carry a concealed loaded bullet onto a plane, cavalierly and raucously erupted at the constable who had accused her: "I've been framed by you people"—"flaked" in the lingo of NYC police. This is never a good idea, and so the result was easily predictable. She was immediately taken into custody, interrogated for many hours and imprisoned in a dark, dank, holding cell accompanied by the worst female miscreants Jamaica has to offer. 

Despite the efforts of a number of "well connected" Jamaican lawyers who seemingly appeared deus ex machina, nothing could be done for her. Frustrated at their inability to gain her release and their unwelcome advice—that, notwithstanding her protestations of innocence, pleading guilty was "the only way to go" if she ever wanted to see the light of day, particularly outside of Jamaica—the woman and her family discharged the lawyers.

Two days and two long, harrowing—back to the wall, one-eye-open—nights later, the woman, brought to her knees by the indignities she suffered and finally "seeing the light," entered a guilty plea in court, under oath, to possession of a bullet.  She paid a $325 fine (US), and was released from custody. Quickly enough then, she and her family left Jamaica, obviously never to return (unless completely insane)—all the while singing, God Bless America!

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