Note: The Connecticut Media Group is not responsible for posts and comments written by non-staff members.

Harsh Sentence = Unfair CT Justice

On April 6, 2011 a young man was incarcerated and sent to Level 4 Maximum Security Prison for one year due to an adolescent misstep.

In the case of State v. David Fernandes Jr, a then 15-year old boy was initially charged in juvenile court with Conspiracy to Commit Assault in the Second Degree. He had no prior criminal record and, in fact, no previous contact with the court system at all.

“I have been involved in the defense of juvenile delinquency cases for over 20 years and currently supervise all of the public defenders assigned to juvenile courts in Connecticut,” said Christine Perra Rapillo, director of Juvenile Delinquency Defense. “I know of no other cases where a child with no record was transferred on a Class D felony.”

“The juvenile court record reflects this 15-year old boy, with no criminal record, who was charged with videotaping a fight, was moved to adult court because ‘the judge wanted to keep the cases together,'” said Rapillo. “There were codefendants who, although teenagers, were adult in the eyes of the law and the prosecutor and the judge opted for convenience over true justice.”

Since Mr. Fernandes’ arrest in 2005, the way that young people are treated who become involved with the justice system has changed dramatically. The United States Supreme Court has issued two decisions adopting scientific research on adolescent brain development that shows young people are physically unable to make the decisions of a mature adult. In Roper v. Simmons and Graham v. Florida, the Supreme Court ruled that an adolescent’s developmental differences mean that they must be held to a difference standard of culpability than a grown up.

“The Supreme Court decision in State v. Fernandes was a great victory for the young people of Connecticut – except for David Fernandes,” said Rapillo.

Mr. Fernandes has already served eighteen months under house arrest which will not be counted toward time served. He was denied any divisionary program even though he fully qualified as a first time offender. The judge gave no reason for the denial.

For additional background on the case and ways to get involved in support of David Fernandes Jr., visit

Categories: General

5 Responses

  1. Creash says:

    Hello. I am currently finishing up my masters in criminal justice. For the cases mentioned above involving juveniles, Florida is notorious for being harder on juveniles than any other state, and much harder at that. While other states are acknowledging juveniles’ capacity for rehabilitation and the negative impact of harsh juvenile sentencing, Florida refuses to get on board.

    For the adult cases mentioned…does this judge show a pattern of overly-harsh sentencing of minorities and the economically disadvantaged? Or is she just a hanging judge overall? Also, have appeals been filed in any of these, by the accounts I’m reading, overly-harsh sentences (with the exception of the white-collar case, where there are a lot of missing specifics to determine whether or not the sentence was overly harsh)?

  2. Kim says:

    My gf was just sentenced to 15 yrs by judge newton and totally only scored out to 72 months judge newton needs to be off the bench

  3. April says:

    I just completed a prison sentence imposed by Judge Newton. I had never even been in jail prior to this, I did not score out to state time, and my crime was for theft that was repaid before my court appearance. During my time in both Pinellas County Jail and Lowell C.I., I learned that countless inmates who had appeared in front of Newton received harsh and inappropriate sentences, and that people will try desperately to get out of her courtroom for fear of this happening to them. I was a well-educated, high-functioning member of society who made poor choices, and I am now learning to de-institutionalize myself and not behave like a convict. She is horrible. I feel assured that she sentences nearly everyone to prison to reap the benefits and “approval” of being in the pocket of the State of Florida/D.O.C.

  4. Lena S says:

    Cynthia Newton should not be a judge. She is ignorant,man hating witch

  5. teresa valentis says:

    Dear Prison Activists:
    Please advise any suggestions, etc. It would be so greatly appreciated.
    My 41 year old son Matthew Mauceri was convicted of a white-collar, non-violent crime in
    Pinellas County Florida in December 2010. He was sentenced to a whopping 17 yrs in
    prison by a Judge Cynthia Newton for this first offense. He is serving his time in
    Raiford at the State Prison there. It is a deplorable situation.

    At one time, Matthew was a productive member of society and ran a successful business in
    the Tampa area for many years. He employed several people as well. Unfortunately, he
    made a bad choice in 2007 and things went downhill for him after that.

    Matthew could be productive. He has a good head on his shoulders. Unfortunately, he is
    sitting in prison at a total cost of more than $300,000 to the state. His crime involved
    $168,000. The current situation is obviously counterproductive, inhumane, and has
    created many, many victims, not just the multi-million dollar company that had him
    convicted. A simple monitoring bracelet and productive job to pay off his debt, makes
    sense and saves dollars.

    Thank you.

    Very truly yours,