PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – A stringent prison sentence for long-term domestic violence and extortion of parents was handed down in the Court of First Instance on November 3 to a young man with multiple documented mental health ailments. The man is well known to the judicial authorities and health professionals.
In spite of the 24 months prison sentence, both the prosecutor and the lawyer for D.P. are in agreement that he is in need of specialized treatment and care for his severe mental illness, rather than just jail time. The level of treatment D.P requires is not available in Sint Maarten.
The prosecutor is doing his utmost to find a way for the man to get the treatment he badly requires in Curacao.
D.P. was also suspected of threatening Mental Health Foundation personnel who attempted to care for him. He was acquitted for threatening the two care providers, because two threats occurred at two different times and there was no additional evidence for either threat.
Cases such as these involving people suffering from (severe) mental health issues for which there is no ready treatment in the country underscore the need for more attention and solutions to mental health issues. People suffering for such issues are not suffering alone; their condition impacts their family and the community due to pressure on the social and medical systems as well as the police force.
Mental health issues are part of the human condition. Most people with mental health issues are able to live and be in control of their challenges. However, some extreme cases result in harm as was seen in this case, but abandoning a perpetrator is not an option in a just and caring society.