The Atlanta educators who were convicted on April 1 of racketeering and other charges related to purposely inflating test scores in poorly performing schools were sentenced in the Fulton County Court today:

One by one, they stood, alongside their attorneys, before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter.

In this system, a jury decides guilt or innocence, the judge metes out punishment.

Throughout the five-month trial, Baxter has been pointed. Until Monday, he said he planned to sentence the educators to prison. When verdicts were reached, he ordered them directly to jail.

But on Monday he changed his mind and decided to allow prosecutors to offer them deals that would have allowed them to avoid the possible 20-year sentence that racketeering carries.

One would think if offered the chance to accept a deal and avoid jail time, a person would take it. But that didn’t happen and the situation changed fast:

And that’s why there were sparks when some of the educators, flanked by their attorneys, did not directly and readily admit their responsibility.

Baxter was not pleased. He raised his voice numerous times and shouted at attorneys. Some attorneys shouted back. At one point, one of the defense lawyers said he might move to recuse the judge and the judge retorted that he could send that attorney to jail.

“Everybody starts crying about these educators. This was not a victimless crime that occurred in this city!” Baxter said.

The sentences handed down for some, were not light:

“Everybody knew cheating was going on and your client promoted it,” Baxter said to an attorney representing Atlanta Public Schools educator Sharon Davis Williams, who Baxter sentenced to seven years in prison.

Davis Williams was ordered to perform 2,000 hours of community service and pay a $25,000 fine.

All of those convicted were sentence to some time in jail, anywhere from one year to seven years. All of them were fined anywhere from $1,000-$25,000 and all were ordered to perform 1,000-1,500 hours of community service.

The judge in the case, Jerry Baxter, was so angered by what he learned during the trial, that he ordered all of the defendants directly to jail upon their conviction.

The cheating went so far as to hold “cheating parties” and to have teachers change answers on students tests. Some allegedly used the cheating as a means of inflating bonuses and to enhance their careers.