An Open Letter to Judge James Moody Regarding Sentencing for Buju Banton

By: Natasha Von Castle

CANADA – As you are well aware, Buju Banton faces sentencing on June 23rd for his conviction on the charge conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute.

We cannot change the conviction, however, our collective voices can influence the Judge to reduce the suggestion of a 15 year sentence.

Below is my open letter to the judge. If it is within you, add your voice and let the Judge know how you feel regarding the amount of time Buju serves. My letter is included below.

An open letter to Judge James Moody sent via e-mail: [email protected]

And via airmail:

The Honourable James S. Moody Jr.
United States District Judge
Tampa Division
801 North Florida Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33602

Dear Judge Moody;

In your many years within the justice system as a lawyer and Judge, I am sure you have come across cases that have either touched you, or touched the community which you represent. A touch could be a personal understanding of one or some of the components in a case, just as a touch can be pride in knowing that the justice system worked (the way it’s supposed to) in making sure the right people receive the right punishment according to their crime(s).

Your honor, I am writing this letter with the belief that I, on behalf of the community I represent, can appeal to you on a ‘touch’ level.

Before your court is the matter of Mr. Mark ‘Buju Banton’ Myrie who is due to be sentenced on June 23rd by you, for the conviction he received on the charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute. I appeal to you to reduce Buju’s sentence from the recommended 15 years.

Buju is not like any man you will ever meet. He is a friend, a father, a husband and one of the pillars in the Caribbean community; not just Jamaica, but every Caribbean community in every city around the world.

As one of our pillars, he has given the community songs which nourish the soul. This nourishment has turned youths away from crime, has strengthened families and healed those who were not well.

How do we know this is true? The testimony of countless of which I am one. He spoke for me when he sang ‘I wanna go ahead without turning back / and now I see myself heading for the trap / I wanna break free but I feel trapped / a voice inside me saying don’t stop ….’ Those words were taken from the song “Optimistic Soul” which encouraged listeners to not give up, no matter how daunting the situation looks. Those were Buju’s words from 2010. If we go back 10 years before that, we have ‘there was good and evil / we chose good ….’

When an announcement is made that Buju will be performing, the show(s) sell out. Tickets are purchased by people who want a live touch of Buju’s nourishing words. Fans leave the concerts fulfilled and refocused on the right path.

We, the community, need Buju, and we need you to understand his importance to us. Because of these needs, I ask you to not sentence Buju to 15 years in prison. I ask that you consider his humanitarian works with the children of his homeland Jamaica and I ask that you consider his impact on the Caribbean community around the world. Once you’ve considered these, I ask that you set a sentence that will not see Buju away from us for a lengthy period of time.

Thank you,

Natasha Von Castle
Chief Executive Officer and President
L3 Group of Companies
Toronto, ON Canada

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