I think they're victims of a culture clash—BYU and Utah have a non-diverse, low-crime culture where stealing is looked on as wrong, and where the non-violent theft of less than a hundred thousand dollars worth of property can lead to jail time and deportation. It's almost like living in...the America anyone over forty was born in.
Two former BYU-Idaho students who stole tens of thousands of dollars of books from the campus bookstore are speaking exclusively to Channel 3 Eyewitness News reporter Nate Eaton[America, of course. Deportable aliens can just vanish into America, somewhere where there's a large immigrant population, and wait for an amnesty.]
... The pair is charged with stealing tens of thousands of dollars of books from the BYU-Idaho bookstore. They pleaded guilty and were supposed to be released in August to be deported back to their homes in Africa. ... The pair is still being held as material witnesses to testify against Zachariah Rodgers. He's the man police say Chikusu and Sinyangwe sold books to and then Rodgers would turn around and sell them online.
Rodgers is out on bond. His trial is set for December and that makes these guys angry.
Sinyangwe: "I'm sitting here on a quarter of a million bond like I killed somebody. And that guy is being charged with possession of stolen property and he's outside. His bond was ten thousand and he got out with one thousand bucks. And I'm sitting here quarter of a million because I'm black.
Nate Eaton, Channel 3: "You think it's because you're black?"
Sinyangwe: "It definitely is. It is. This district attorney...I don't think he likes black people."
Sinyangwe says they are being targeted because of their race but officials say the men haven't been released because they may flee the state or the country. ...
Eaton: "They say it's because they're afraid if they let you out, you guys will leave."
Sinyangwe: "I'm not a flight risk. They can hold my passport. Where am I gonna go without my passport?" ...
[EXCLUSIVE: BYUI Bookstore Thieves Speak from Behind Bars; Accuse Officials of Racism | KIDK CBS 3, By Nate Eaton, November 1, 2007]
Chikusu and Sinyangwe say they just want to be released so they can go home. And the longer they stay locked up, the more they wonder why they're still here.
The men's attorney is working to get them out of jail as soon as possible. They also plan to fight against being deported.
Note that the video has subtitles, although it's conducted in English, because the two convicts have Zambian accents. In New York, they might not think that was necessary, because everyone talks to foreigners everyday, but in Utah, people might spend all day talking to Americans.