A plea to free George

After experiencing abnormal circumstances since my childhood it created a passion in me to divert others in the cycle, for the trap it sets and to rescue those who have already been trapped by such circumstances.

On October, 2010, I received an email inviting people from the public to join the Save Our Youth Foundation, even though the negative part of me that is responsible for my lack of motivation tried its best to keep me inactive, I responded to the email and joined the organisation. To me it was a step to what I have always wanted to do and that was to save our youth.

At my first meeting I sat with a vast group of people with eagerness and desire to step out and address the issues affecting our children, Juvenile crime, youth gangs teenage pregnancies, underachievers, vicious cycles, and drug use among youth were some of the issues discussed at that meeting.

I was impressed at the brilliance, the passion, the humility of this young man, who I had never seen before. He showed us a well-put-together Powerpoint presentation about the organisation. His demeanour was genuine and so was his objective – his life dedicated to prevent the youth from making the mistakes he made as a young man. After he had introduced himself to the group, I was amazed when he said his home was prison. After the meeting I sat in my car a little while and wondered why? Then I immediately focused on, when will he be out because the shepherd was locked away from the sheep? It was that intense.

George has spent 19 years of his life in prison. There is a time in most people’s lives that circumstances correct, teach, and become a person’s wake-up call. I sat in silence as he poured his heart out in his attempts through SOY to reach the youth; he’s accomplished much in lock down that has effectively reached out to our youth. Ideas after ideas were presented and executed; the one that touched me is the Medallion Award program that is implemented in all primary, high and private schools including Cayman Brac.

The award is created to acknowledge those students who ordinarily would not be singled out in a positive way, whose day-to-day acts of kindness or above-and-beyond efforts go unnoticed. Perhaps a student has improved his or her academic standing. Maybe a student has demonstrated a love of learning or an extraordinary aptitude in a certain class or maybe a student has demonstrated an exemplary attitude or behaviour.

I myself was one of those unrecognised students; such a thing would’ve made a difference in me as a student back then. The crucial part of us is spent in years of schooling enabling us to learn and develop as young adults, so implementing this programme and being a member of SOY Foundation makes me very proud.

I know that George Roper is the founder of SOY Foundation. I find this very inspiring and remarkable for someone that is in prison. When I heard this I had to check myself; so many of us are free to go here and there and do what we want, but this young man is locked up in prison and doing more than any of us that are free can ever imagine. The more I think about it the more I see the hands of God at work in this young man’s life.

I have also heard widespread reports that he did not commit the crime for which he is accused. I know he is in prison for life. One thing I do know for sure is this: George Roper is a changed man and one who is clearly on a mission to save the youth of the Cayman Islands; with that being said, I truly believe this young man deserves a second chance. His release will only do well for society. It will save the Government almost $60,000 a year, plus the release of a rehabilitated prisoner sounds like a success story to me.

I am writing this letter because I want readers to share my concern. I am sure I am not the only one who believes that George Roper deserves a second chance. I am truly grateful for the workings of God in his life and for the marvelous job the prison has done to turn around his life. I am certain that if given a chance he will be an excellent role model. Governor Taylor, please pardon George; our community needs him please give him a second chance.

Nina Smith