The old saying, “You get what you pay for,” has never been more critical to a community than the recent poor decision to cut the Judiciary budget. At a time when tightening the belt of a community is a must, we are cutting our nose to spite our face.

A well-funded judiciary is critical to a well-run community. Hobbling the courts is setting ourselves up for failure, and this must not be allowed to happen. Proper funding for the judicial system is beyond important. It’s a must. Consistently, budget allocations are arbitrary. Those making these decisions rarely cut from their own needs. Give up a fleet of taxpayers’ cars versus funding a legal position? Refurbish offices rather than invest in community stability? Cutting from the legal system means we will spend more later in the growth of the criminal system.

A weak judiciary will ensure all other walks of life in the Virgin Islands deteriorate. The community purse, once and for all, needs to reflect the greater needs of the entire Virgin Islands.

The Chief Justice of our courts has made it clear that this ill-advised slashing of the judiciary budget will set the court back six years. Going backwards is never something a community should do. We need our officials with vision to see this for what it is: A big mistake.

— Maria Ferreras is a longtime St. Thomas resident and community volunteer. She can be reached at