I sentenced criminals to hundreds more years than I wanted to. I had no choice.
In the fall of 2007, Steven Fabre appeared in my courtroom. He was a 29-year-old New York native there to plead guilty to a single count of possession with intent to distribute crack. Fabre was a typical, fungible street dealer who found business by approaching cars or pedestrians. He used the proceeds from his sales to feed his own addiction; he'd been using drugs since he was 14. Fabre had a number of convictions for very minor offenses, plus one for selling a small quantity of a controlled substance, for which he received five years of probation when he was 18. He never graduated from high school and had worked only for a short time, stocking his parents' small grocery store.