People v. Henry
Justice Matthew D'Emic
Henry moved to set aside his sentence arguing it violated the Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted for criminal possession of a Uzi that he fired at several people on the streets. The conviction and sentence were both affirmed on appeal. The court noted absent exceptional circumstances the sentence imposed was not cruel nor unusual as it was within the statutory parameters established by the state legislature. It also found Henry had a prior conviction for firing a gun into a crowded club. The court stated incapacitation through imprisonment was one of the forms of justification for punishment. It noted incapacitation, as a sentencing principle, was concerned with risk, and preventing harm for as long as possible. Here, Henry had a history of vicious, violent behavior, and his actions placed innocent people at great risk. Thus, the court concluded the maximum term of imprisonment was necessary to protect generations of New Yorkers from him, ruling its imposition was neither cruel, nor unusual. Hence, as no exceptional circumstances were present as the sentence reflected a legitimate penological goal, the motion was denied.