Tuesday, January 23, 2007

8. Sentencing the Crime Committed or the Crime Charged?

Judge Govendo issued his sentences today to Edward Frank Cabrera and Jenny Luo. Each got 5 years jail, with 2 years suspended and 3 years to be served without possibility of parole. They were also sentenced to similar terms on other counts, but all actual jail terms are served "concurrently," meaning at the same time. Each will be on probation at the end of the sentence, and one of the probation sentences is consecutive, so the probation term is a total of 7 1/2 years after they get out of jail. Each was fined $8,000. Mr. Cabrera's business license for his nightclub, karaoke, massage enterprise was revoked and permanently barred. Ms. Luo's entry permit to the CNMI was revoked and she is permanently barred from re-entry. She will likely be deported immediately upon conclusion of her jail (so the probation term for her is meaningless.)

The sentences are consistent with the probation report. They seem reasonable when you look in the abstract at the crimes for which each Defendant was found guilty--permitting prostitution, promoting prostitution, immigration fraud.

However, I can't help but feel the sentences miss the mark.

Two women were deceived into believing they had legitimate jobs in the CNMI, and then were forced to be prostitutes. One was repeatedly raped over her protests. All at the hands of, arranged for and with money collected by, these two defendants.

Three years jail doesn't seem long enough. Not even to me, a liberal do-gooder who is opposed to the "tough on crime" agendas of some politicians.

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