As most of America knows by now, “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” star, Teresa Giudice was sentenced to 15 months in prison after being convicted for numerous fraud charges, by Judge Esther Salas on October 2. Teresa’s husband, Joe will serve 41 months. The anticipation of this judgement has been a real nail biter, and the opinions on how a judge, especially a female one, would render a decision about whether or not to send a mother of young children to prison, have been heated and varied. The Giudices have four daughters ranging in age from 5-13. While the incriminating facts of this dispute are clear, a high profile, quasi-celebrity case involving young children, has made a slice of America wonder what indeed would happen on sentencing day. People Magazine reports that the decision was not easy, and that Judge Salas was concerned about the Giudices’ situation.
“For a moment I thought about probation … but I think a period of confinement is absolutely necessary in this case,” the judge told Teresa. “I don’t honestly believe that you understand or respect the law. I need to send a message. In the eyes of the law, it doesn’t matter who you are. There are consequences to pay.”
The judge did allow staggered sentences, with Teresa serving first. She will report to prison on January 5 after spending the holidays at home. She also received 2 years probation. The Giudices were charged in July of 2013 in a 39-count indictment that included conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud. They originally pleaded not guilty to all charges, but changed their plea to guilty in March.
Teresa addressed the court while tears rolled down her eyes:
“My daughters are my life. I’m more sorry than anyone will ever know. I will make this right no matter what.” as well as, “I’m really scared … I need to learn to do things for myself. It’s time for me to wake up.”
Before handing down Joe’s sentence of 41 months, plus 12 months on an additional count, the judge told Joe, “I am not sure you respect this court or our laws, and I’m not sure you understand what you’ve done.” She added, “I want you home with your girls. You’re a great dad.”
The Keep Tre Free camp consistently harps on the importance of the children, and how imperative it is that Teresa be allowed to continue raising them. They also continually accuse the ‘other side’ of being heartless to the Giudice plight. That thinking is childish, and simply untrue in 99.9% of opinionated onlookers. Everyone can agree that the kids are getting the raw end of the deal, and that they don’t deserve to live without their parents. However, it goes without saying that the prisons are littered with mothers who have made crappy life choices, and have left children abandoned as a result. However, the blame for this doesn’t rest on any judge, lawyer, or twisting circumstance. It rests squarely on the shoulders of the parents, and they alone are going to have to answer for any fallout that occurs in the lives of these undeserving children. Hopefully, the basic ‘choices have consequences’ lesson will be learned, albeit the hard way. The bottom line is, desiring justice can be combined with genuine compassion for children.
“You’re a devoted mother,” the judge told Teresa. “You have no criminal history. You’ve paid your taxes. Those girls need their mother at this critical age in their lives. There’s a bond between a mother and a daughter.”
Many observers believe that given the weight of the crimes, Teresa’s sentence was actually lenient. I believe that Judge Salas proved herself to be compassionate, as well as patient, and fair. Justice was served, and I believe that the Giudice family was fortunate to have her making the decision.