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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

At Sentencing, Youth Bares Soul, and Judge Bares His Pain

How much misery was appropriate to inflict on a promising 19-year-old, who himself had inflicted misery on society by dealing drugs, the judge asked himself out loud.

“It’s almost an impossible calculus,” said Justice Farber, who sits in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

The young man, Yiskar Caceres, had been arrested four times in roughly 15 months for selling or possessing cocaine, and Justice Farber already had given him an opportunity to wipe his slate clean before his most recent arrest, in April.

Now, Justice Farber said, he had no choice but to sentence Mr. Caceres to state prison. But even in doing so, the judge showed some compassion: he gave Mr. Caceres four and a half years in prison, half the maximum sentence that prosecutors had sought. Because Mr. Caceres has already served 11 months and will be eligible for a drug-treatment program, he could be out in as little as two years.

“I have not given up hope in you,” Justice Farber said, adding that he hoped Mr. Caceres would see how drugs had destroyed some of the inmates’ lives, “see the connection between what you do and what they become.” [Mark Godsey]

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