I’ve been dreading writing this post.
In the last while, there have been a number of high profile cases where BC Provincial Judges have handed down sentences for drinking and driving offences, where the drivers have caused the death of individuals.
I am neither an expert in jurisprudence… nor a Legal Eagle.
Just a guy with a keyboard and a Blog, who was struck by a comment overheard on the radio, earlier this week.
It was a pundit, talking about the 0.05 alcohol threshold, and summing up the “re-interpretation” of the drinking law, saying that laws should not be made, or levied, in response to either an individual case or public pressure.
And this is where I have struck a legal hairball.
Earlier this week, the Court made an example of Shawn Woodward, who was approached in a bar by Ritch Dowrey, with an offer of buying him a drink. It ended with Woodward sucker punching Dowrey, who slipped, fell, hit his head, and now has an apparently permanent brain injury. Because of his objection to another man believing he was gay. and some slurs thrown around after the altercation, this was labelled as a hate crime.
I think perhaps the litmus test for a hate crime designation should be an established pattern of behaviour.
Not an ill thought action, in a bar, by probably drunk people, who are hopped on adrenalin.
But bars are where many poor decisions are made.
Carol Berner drove her car after drinking some wine, and killed Alexa Middelaer, and injured her aunt Daphne Johanson.
Darnell Pratt ran over and dragged Grant De Patie to death, underneath a car.
Paul Wettlaufer was drunk when he ran over Carley Regan, and drove away.
Three high profile cases, where people made decisions, while impaired.
I can’t reconcile an assault, even with unfortunate catastrophic consequences getting a six year sentence… with a drunk driver killing another person, and getting 2.5 years. Less jail time, for what I consider a “worse” crime.
It appears to me, as an outsider, that the invocation of the hate crime rule allows for special punishment to be meted out.
I believe that all punishment (except for that delivered under the Dangerous Offender designation) should be doled out in consideration of the circumstances, and the consequences.
Therefore, I’d like to call upon the Governments… (both Provincial and Federal) …to get their legal ducks in a row, and make sure that punishments are more of an ordeal for the convicted, than the victims families. I think it would be a good idea if the sentence lasted longer than the trial. And, I’d like to think that there was a constant and steady measure of justice enacted with each sentence… so that a chronic offender gets dealt with differently than a first time offender, and a murderer gets more time than any other offense.
I’m not defending the assault, or saying I know better.
I just think that when you look at penalties assessed for different crimes, I would like to think that killing another human is by far the most severe crime, and deserving of the greatest punishment. Everything else SHOULD work back from there.