A judge in New Zealand declined to convict the admitted (guilty plea) botherder of a million-bot botnet, citing the negative consequences a conviction would have on the young man's future prospects.  See the story here.

Well duh.  The whole theory of crime and punishment is that if you do something bad, you get punished, and punishment is something that is unpleasant, so you try to avoid it, hopefully by not doing the crime.  See?  One would hope that a judge would understand this concept.

I could understand if the judge said "this is just a stupid kid, he doesn't deserve to do 20 years", and gave the kid probation, community service and a big fine.  I don't know if New Zealand has such options, or if the judge has latitude in sentencing.  There is probably more to the story than is being told.  But you don't take over a million computers that don't belong to you, personally making tens of thousands of dollars, and not realize that you're doing something wrong.  Unless you're a sociopath.  And in either case, you either need punishment (for doing something you know is wrong) or separation from society for the protection of society while you get treatment (if you are a sociopath).  So whatever the case, the judge got it wrong, and as a result is practically encouraging future behavior of the same sort.