When you think of the U.S. court system, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For most people it is about handing out justice through severe punishment, and locking criminals up for the rest of their lives.
Every once in a while we hear storied of compassion and empathy that make us reconsider how we look at things like crime and punishment. Judge Frank Caprio is a presiding judge in the Providence Municipal Court and has become something of a viral sensation on YouTube. His TV show, Caught in Providence, is wildly popular.
Caprio isn't just popular because of his court room proceedings, he is popular because of the nature of his verdicts. He has made a habit of allowing the accused to explain their actions, including life situations that may have attributed to their infractions.
He also asks for input from the children in the courtroom.
Judge Caprio has a soft spot for the children of the "accused", often asking them to come up to the bench to help him make his ruling.
Laughter is not something that you would normally hear coming out of a court room, but when the kids take the bench with Judge Caprio, they often give him some of the funniest responses imaginable.
One young lad, asked by the judge whether his father was innocent or guilty, the young boy gave a response of guilty which had all those (including the boy's parents) erupting into a fit of giggles. Judge Caprio deemed the child an "honest boy" before delivering his ruling. Check out the video of the exchange.
Not all of his court cases are as "innocent" and entertaining as the one shown above, occasionally some mildly serious cases come before him in court, including this one involving a club DJ. Judge Caprio spoke to the young man as a human being, got his side of the story, and then delivered his ruling. While not exactly what the defendant was looking for, he still came out better than he went in. If there is one thing that other law-makers and those working in the justice system could learn from this judge, it's using common sense to uphold the court of law.
If you haven't already, you need to check out more episodes of Caught in Providence.