PhillyBurbs.com, March 27, 2008)
An eastern Pennsylvania judge known for creative sentencing has ordered three men to learn English or go to jail.
Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. said the men, who faced prison for criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, can remain on parole if they learn to read and write English, earn their GEDs and get full-time jobs.
Olszewski noted that the three men, Luis Reyes, Ricardo Dominguez and Rafael Guzman-Mateo, plus a fourth defendant, Kelvin Reyes-Rosario, all needed translators in court when they pleaded guilty Tuesday.
The four, ranging in age from 17 to 22, were in a group that police said accosted two men on a Wilkes-Barre street in May. The two said they were asked if they had marijuana, told to empty their pockets, struck on the head, threatened with a gun and told to stay off the block.
The judge sentenced the four men to jail terms of four to 24 months. But he gave Reyes, Dominguez and Guzman-Mateo, who already had served at least four months, immediate parole. Reyes-Rosario remains imprisoned on an unrelated drug charge.
He has ordered young defendants who are school dropouts to finish school. He often orders defendants to get full-time employment. But he also has his staff coordinate with an employment agency to help them find the jobs.
In this case, Olszewski said, “There’s no way young kids can be hurt by knowing how to read and write the English language.”