Episode 3: The Sentence


Susan Burton and

Laura Starecheski and

The patients are still reckoning with what the pain the nurse inflicted has cost them. Now a court will decide what it should cost her.

Having entered a guilty plea, the nurse arrives in a courtroom in downtown New Haven, Conn., to receive her sentence. She faces a maximum of a little more than five years in prison.

Some patients choose to attend the hearing. Allicia is one of them. In her work, she’s encountered lots of patients with addiction, and she starts out sympathetic to the nurse. But during the hearing, Allicia will learn something about the nurse that she cannot forgive.

The judge begins the hearing by announcing that she hasn’t yet made a decision about the nurse’s sentence. And she really hasn’t. As the judge works toward a ruling, she takes up questions about trust, betrayal and intent, and she weighs the harms the nurse inflicted on the patients against the harms that will come to the nurse’s children if she is sent to prison.

After emotional testimony from victims, the judge rules. She gives the nurse a sentence that no one saw coming.

Erik Tanner for The New York Times

Susan Burton is a longtime staff member at “This American Life,” where she has produced, edited and reported some of the show’s most memorable episodes about women’s experiences. She is the author of the memoir “Empty.”

Carla Pallone is a composer based in France. After classical training as a violinist, she performed in the bands Mansfield.TYA and VACΛRME. She now composes music for cinema and the theater, and has written music for films including “La Fille au Bracelet,” “Libre Garance!” and “Midnight Skin.”

Reported, produced and hosted by Susan Burton
Produced and edited by Laura Starecheski
Executive Editor, Serial Productions Julie Snyder
Supervising Producer, Serial Productions Ndeye Thioubou
Music supervision and sound design by Phoebe Wang
Original score by Carla Pallone
Music mixing by Thomas Poli at Impersonal Freedom
Research and fact-checking by Ben Phelan and Caitlin Love
Standards Editor Susan Wessling
Legal review by Dana Green
Art direction by Pablo Delcan
Additional editing by Katie Mingle and Ira Glass
Additional production by Michelle Navarro
Deputy Managing Editor Sam Dolnick
Producing help by Jeffrey Miranda, Kelly Doe, Renan Borelli, Desiree Ibekwe and Anisha Muni

Special thanks to Erik Tanner, Pierre Cattoni, Lee Riffaterre, Katie Fuchs, Jordan Cohen, Victoria Kim, Jason Fujikuni, Kimmy Tsai, Ashka Gami, Nina Lassam, Jon McNally, Krystal Plomatos and Sam Posner.


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