In more important news, what do you think of the 30-day sentence on the Rutgers student convicted of the hate crime? Not surprisingly, the prosecutors weren't happy, but the judge defended the sentence:
No matter how “unconscionable” Mr. Ravi’s conduct, Judge Glenn Berman said in a court hearing Wednesday, “I can’t find it in me to remand him to state prison that houses people convicted of offenses such as murder, armed robbery and rape. I don’t believe that that fits this case. I believe that he has to be punished, and he will be.”***On Wednesday, the lead prosecutor elaborated on that, telling Judge Berman that she thought a five-year sentence would have been appropriate. The statutes governing bias crimes recommend 5 to 10 years in prison, but the presumption is of a seven-year sentence, and the law allows judges to depart from those guidelines if there are mitigating factors or if they believe a heavier sentence would be an injustice.***While last week the judge reserved his harshest words for Mr. Ravi, on Wednesday he engaged in a tense exchange with Julia McClure, the first assistant prosecutor for Middlesex County, saying he would not comment on her appeal, but accusing her of “smirking” as he explained his reasoning for the sentencing. Ms. McClure argued there were no mitigating factors against a harsher sentence for Mr. Ravi; the judge said if that were the case, then she should be recommending the standard seven years, not five.In reaching his sentence, the judge said he started with the agreement the prosecution had made with Molly Wei, who had viewed the webcam with Mr. Ravi the first night he spied on Mr. Clementi and his boyfriend. Ms. Wei was spared prosecution in an agreement to testify against Mr. Ravi, agreeing to three years’ probation and 300 hours of community service.Believing that “consistency breeds fairness,” the judge said he gave Mr. Ravi community service and probation. “It wasn’t my deal; it was the state’s,” he said.But because Mr. Ravi’s “involvement was more extensive,” he said, he had added to the sentence, ordering Mr. Ravi to undergo counseling in “alternate lifestyles.” That phrase had angered gay rights advocates who believe it is derogatory; the judge said he took the language from the plea bargains the prosecution offered Mr. Ravi before he went to trial.In addition, the judge said, because Mr. Ravi had been convicted of tampering with a witness (trying to get Ms. Wei to lie to the police) and with evidence (trying to cover up his Twitter and text messages) he sentenced him to 30 days in jail. Under state statute, Mr. Ravi could serve as little as 20 days, if he earns work credits and rewards for good behavior in jail.The judge said he had relied on the statute’s recommendation in imposing the fine, and set it at an amount he considered “affordable, impactful and proportionate.”Over all, Judge Berman said the sentence “was fair, it was appropriate, and most of all, it was consistent.”He argued that the legislature intended prison terms to be attached to bias crimes that were “assaultive or violent in nature,” not invasion of privacy.“I also know his age,” Judge Berman added, calling it a mitigating factor.“I believe justice compels me to deviate from the guidelines,” he said.