Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Judge gets Insight on Jail Reform

Sol Wachtler was the former chief judge of New York state's highest court until he was convicted in 1993 of terrorizing, stalking and harassing his ex-lover, socialite Joy Silverman, after she broke off their affair. At one point Wachtler threatened to kidnap Silverman's daughter. Wachtler was arrested after an extensive FBI investigation. While any ordinary mortal would have likely received a lengthy prison sentence, Wachtler got off with only a year in jail and halfway houses.

While serving as chief Judge Wachtler wrote several rulings which severely limited the right of criminal defendants in New York state to use a diminished capacity defense. He stated, from the bench, that people need to take responsibility for their actions and not hide behind excuses. So, guess what defense Wachtler presented when facing extensive criminal charges for his terroristic behavior? You got it: diminished capacity.

Wachtler, who now teaches at Pace Law School, had this to say about jail: "There is nothing more demeaning, more diminishing than being in prison. They treat you like garbage." Too bad he didn't have this insight when he was sitting on the bench. It's amazing what a little jail time does for judges' views on prison reform.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login