In a rare glimpse into his personal life, Judge Caprio shows us why we should throw the book at stereotypes.

Let’s face it, many of the cases that come in front of Judge Frank Caprio are small potatoes. They mostly involve parking tickets and crimes of hassle, not harm.

That’s when the affable Caught in Providence Judge uses his gavel for good and shows kindness how only he can.

But on this day, the charge is serious. Yet, it would be the defendant’s answer and a judge’s touching story that makes this a court date to remember.

A Defendant’s Serious Charge

“Giovanni Cabrera.”

He was smirking but there was nothing funny about this. Standing in front of Judge Frank Caprio, he had a serious charge to answer for.

Caprio is known to be light-hearted, but putting kids at risk is no laughing matter.

The judge read the charges. The three overnight parking tickets are harmless enough.

When Caprio reads the second, Cabrera turns serious.

“One school zone violation.”

Speeding in a school zone. Cabrera owned up to it. “That was me driving,” he said.

“I work in the school system so I understand how serious it is so I won’t argue on that.”

According to CBS, over 100 children are killed every year while walking home from school, with about 25,000 injured.

Then Caprio asks him a question that changes the whole course of the court.

How a Man Turned His Life Around

When Caprio asks if he’s a student, Cabrera responds that he’s a youth program assistant, literally up the street from the courthouse.

He said that he works for Urban Arts, a mentorship program to give high school students outlets for creative expression and keep them out of trouble.

Cabrera adds that he was part of the program as a high schooler. “It changed my life, and I wanted to give back to the community.”

“Tell me about your life before and after you went to this program,” asks Caprio.

Cabrera explains that he was on the streets of Providence’s rough and tumble south side, with many prejudging him for that.

Then he discovered Urban Arts. There, he says, “I learned there is something you know, to do outside being outside in the streets.”

With fresh motivation, he learned how to play piano and produce music. Today, he has found success as a full-time artist and website designer.

“I help people figure out how to do things better and more efficient…but my main passion is working with the youth,” he says.

Quiet until then, Judge Caprio’s expression changes as he gets personal.

“I probably shouldn’t tell this story,” he says.

Judge Caprio’s Personal Story

After telling Cabrera how impressed he was at how he turned his life around, Caprio said that he too grew up on the South side.

“When you come from the South side, people have a lot of preconceptions of you,” he adds.

That’s when Caprio shares a personal story.

As a teen, he worked at a diner, making burgers and washing dishes. Then one day he met a lovely lady and asks her out on a date and she accepted. When he arrived to pick her up, as was customary then, she asks him to meet her parents.

He recalled seeing her father, sitting in a recliner in the living room. After a brief introduction, the father asked Caprio where he lived.

“‘You’re not taking my daughter out’, and that was the end of my date,” Caprio recalled, adding that he, like Cabrera, understands unfair stereotypes.

With that, he was ready to rule.

How Judge Caprio Shows That Everyone Deserves Compassion

“I want to congratulate you on two things. One, turning your life around and two, paying it forward to help others,” Caprio says of his success story.

“I think we should give him special consideration,” he said, based on Cabrera taking full responsibility.

With that, Caprio dismissed his fines.

Cabrera was floored. “I appreciate it and I wanted to say that I never met a judge or a person like you, you’re amazing,” he said.

“I don’t do anything different than what I was taught to do by my parents. That is to treat everyone with dignity and respect and have some compassion for people,” Caprio says.

While court might be out, how will you pay it forward?

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