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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, July 23, 2024


Dear Source:
In a recent column, Claude Lewis, a retired journalist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, commented on a report by Human Rights Watch on the racial disparities in our prisons with regard to drug offences. Lewis' points were: Minorities are easier to catch because most of their illegal activities take place in out in the open and minorities are picked up because they fit the current government profile of a drug offender.
Illio Matos runs a small electric motor repair shop on St Croix. He did work on a boat. Drug enforcement officials were watching the boat. When questioned, Matos explained why he was on the boat. He was arrested anyway. They searched his home and found nothing. They put him in jail. They searched his car and found nothing. It was impounded.
Although bail has been denied, he has been presented with a prepared confession several times. If he signs it, he will be released on bail. Matos has refused to sign. He remains in jail. I have been told that this is a method used to achieve a 100 percent conviction rate. One would think that convicting the guilty parties would be more important than a neat resume.
Matos has been in prison since Dec. 3, 1998. He has yet to be charged with a crime. His attorney, who has been handling drug cases for 17 years, says Matos is in prison because her fits the current profiles. He is a young male from the Dominican Republic. He is also a United States citizen.
How many others are being held in this manner? How much is this practice helping to swell the prison population? How much is this costing the taxpayers?
Where can we turn for help?
Ray Mill

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