Prison awaits young Schenectady father

Mom, infant son watch convicted dad sentenced, advised

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
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— A young man who has been in trouble for much of his life faced both his greatest punishment and his greatest motivation for reform Tuesday morning.

Jason Regals, 19, of Schenectady, was sentenced to 31⁄2 years in state prison for a robbery. It was the severest penalty to date for the latest in a long line of incidents stretching back to his juvenile years, including assault, menacing and other violent acts.

But when he was marched into Judge Karen Drago’s courtroom, shackled and handcuffed, he had eyes only for the people watching from the gallery.

For the first time, he saw his newborn son, age 2 weeks. And he also got his first glimpse of his nephew, age 5 months.

His girlfriend and his sister sat through more than an hour of court cases, keeping their babies quiet, in hopes of letting him see them once before he was taken to prison. He had personally asked them to make the trip for that reason.

The court officers and attorneys were kind to the young women as they sat through the court proceedings, waiting for Regals. They admired the babies, gave Jareema Vanison advice on how to support her newborn’s neck, and praised them for keeping the babies so quiet.

It wasn’t easy, particularly for 5-month-old Kyle Gray.

“You can’t go to sleep yet! You gotta see Uncle Jay!” whispered mother Shantea Dones.

Sure enough, the tired baby let out a burbling cry. She rocked him desperately.

“Shh. Come on, stop, Uncle Jay is almost here,” she whispered.

Newborn Zi’anah Vanison-Regals was silent, her eyes wide as she took in her surroundings. For more than an hour she watched the court in quiet fascination. Her mother sighed.

“I am so sick of coming to court,” Vanison said.

But both of them were eager to show off their babies, and when Regals caught sight of them, his face brightened. He gave the babies a wide, gentle smile.

Then he was marched forward to face the judge, and his face hardened.

As Drago began to speak to him, he refused to say “ma’am” or “your honor.” He spoke curtly, angrily.

Drago wasn’t impressed.

“You have no idea how close I am to letting you take back your plea and go to trial,” she said. “At the age of 19, you have some serious anger issues.”

His demeanor changed.

“I’m learning to deal with it,” he said. “I’m learning to do what I have to do and take what I have to take.”

The judge told him she didn’t think three years in prison would help him.

“I can’t believe this is the life you want for yourself,” she said, flipping through his lengthy rap sheet. “But this has been your life.”

He said he was willing to see a counselor — which she said he should do as soon as he gets out of prison.

“Don’t wait for something to happen,” Drago said. “I truly believe until you can get your issues under control, you need to be monitored in this community.”

But she added that he has graduated from high school — which few of her young defendants have managed.

“You’ve got potential here,” she said.

And then there’s his baby daughter.

Drago told him that she would urge the prison system to get him into vocational classes.

“Hopefully you can pick up a trade so you can come out of prison a productive member of society,” she said.

Drago also directed him to get substance abuse and alcohol treatment.

He walked out, getting one last glimpse of his daughter and nephew. Again, he smiled, his face softening.

Outside, the young women said they had hope for him. Maybe he would change, in prison. Maybe he would learn a trade. Maybe he would find a way to stop his violent outbursts.

Other than that, they said, they had no words for him.

“He’s got a lot to do,” Vanison said. “She’s right, he’s got a lot of anger.”

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December 12, 2012
6:39 a.m.

This is our Schenectady and the people we have to make it so great. All productive members of society.

December 12, 2012
7:57 a.m.
dod says...

Really? Why is the gazette reporting on the sentencing of a common criminal and trying to turn him into some type of twisted story book character? REPORT THE NEWS WITHOUT YOUR LIBERAL TALL TALES.
Stop trying to romanticize Schenectady's crime!

December 12, 2012
9:34 a.m.
justapto says...

Lance Corporal Anthony Denier is laid to rest for his dedication and self control advancing through the marines. Regals gets to cry how tough his lazy life is.
Perhaps Mr. Regals should have been drafted and sent through boot camp and made a man.
Then he could see what real sacrafice and pain is. A tour in a third world country would make any man respect all that the USA has to offer. Give and not just 'take'!

December 12, 2012
9:54 a.m.
safny says...

What I find unfortunate is that the sister is keeping her baby awake for the big event - his uncle's sentencing to prison. What is wrong with her? It's not exactly like his college graduation. Also - the article refers to his newborn son and at the end, it refers to his daughter. Either way - I feel sorry for any kid of his.

December 12, 2012
12:49 p.m.
justapto says...

Again: 'Poor Jason Regals'. All the victums of his cowardly crimes get no mention in this article!

December 12, 2012
3:12 p.m.
jonw757 says...

You know what that boy needs is a child. AWESOME

December 12, 2012
5:04 p.m.
Root_Beer says...

And another family of Takers enters our wonderful system that is bankrupting this country. I hope the baby's mother has or is going to get a job to make herself better and her childs life better, yeah right!

December 13, 2012
7:46 p.m.
cfield says...

She will be fine. I'm sure she's getting plenty of our money.

December 14, 2012
7:02 a.m.
mezz3131 says...

My guess is that this liberal reporter, who clearly shows bias in her reporting of others, knows this guy. This reporter should be fired, along with the editor who allowed this story to be printed. Or, in response to this continued horrible reporting, readers should boycott this media source all together. If people do not wake up and see the impact that this type of reporting is having on our society, we are all fools. The messages sent recently by Ms Moore: 1) the Cops are bad. 2) it is OK to rob people, break into their homes, and be disrespectful to a Judge because "we" understand and know that you will turn your life around. So now, if you are an impressionable reader, what message are you getting?

December 14, 2012
7:25 a.m.
wmarincic says...

What happened to sending these minor criminals through boot camp? With waivers the first offenders can get in and it may break the cycle.Our volunteer military is doing multiple tours and if we added to the military we could end that. They would have a choice 5 years in prison or 4 years in the Army.

December 14, 2012
10:40 a.m.
wmarincic says...

BTW the guy is a lifelong criminal not a misunderstood kid. He chose his path and there are many victims including a child he fathered that someone else will be paying for, most likely the taxpayers.You act at the Gazette like the police are the bad guys, I have news for you, it's dirtbags like him that are destroying not only Schenectady, but the whole country.

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