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16-CR-323

United States of America v. Tyshawn Rivera, et al.
Senior United States District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein today issued a sentencing opinion covering three criminals—all adolescents—and members of dangerous street gangs, who broke into a home, brandished firearms, terrorized young children and adults and stole money and other valuables.  
This combined memorandum explains why heavy incapacitory sentences were imposed:  
 
Statutorily mandated incapacitory sentences are usually unnecessary to increase public safety, or prevent recidivism; they place a tremendous financial burden on society through excessive incarceration.  See United States v. Dossie, 851 F. Supp. 2d 478, 478 (E.D.N.Y. 2012) (“[T]oo many . . . defendants . . . ‘lose their claim to a future’—to borrow a phrase from Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.—because lengthy mandatory prison terms sweep reasonable, innovative, and promising alternatives to incarceration off the table at sentencing.”).  
The comparatively lengthy sentences in this case are made necessary by mandatory minimums, but also by the finding that the available alternatives to incarceration or diversion programs are either insufficient or unavailable for violent defendants, like the present ones who have been trapped in a gang culture, and condemned to a life of poverty and probable crime. 
 
The serious problem in dealing with members of street gangs, and the modern focus on incapacitory sentencing, is explained with extensive citation of academic and other research.