Thursday, January 29, 2009

Life Is Cheap On Wisconsin Highways

We've seen it time and time again on Wisconsin highways: bad behavior, like drunken driving, treated with kid gloves by the justice system.

Now here's another example: a motorist runs down two bicyclists. One dies, one is injured.

The driver flees. Then flees the state. Stashes the hit-and-run vehicle. Has a record of driving drunk (though her arrest weeks later made it impossible for her blood alcohol content to have been tested).

The sentence: four years, plus probation of ten years.

Also from the Journal Sentinel. A New Berlin man gets four years in prison for stealing natural gas.

I'm not sure what the reasons are, but it's clear to me that Wisconsin jurisprudence seems to have declared the highways a kind of free fire zone.

Walk into a school or a business and shoot down two people, flee, hide the weapon and get caught a month later, with one fatality left at the crime scene, and I'll wager you get a longer sentence than four years.

But commit the same crime on the road, and somehow the punishment is weaker.

I just don't get it.

4 comments:

Emily said...

I don't get it either. It seems to come down to a motorist entitlement culture. Cars and their drivers act like and are treated like they own the roads, even when the result is the death of a pedestrian or cyclist.

Seriously, screw that. We need to clamp down much harder on people who drive recklessly and cause injury or death to others on the road.

James Rowen said...

I think you are on to something. This entitlement culture seems to extend to snowmobilers when they have deer or ducks in sight.

Anonymous said...

Is it not clear that persons who take weapons into a crowd with the intent of shooting others are qualitatively different than those who cause injury or death by irresponsible driving? The driver is thoughtless (or careless, or any other perjorative you care to use) but does not intend to harm anyone. Yet the drumbeat of vengeance is heard throughout the state, with calls to punish these offenders as if there were no difference between the two situations.

Jim Rowen said...

To Anon; People aren't being vengeful. They simply want protection on the highways. Druk drivers and those who thoughtlessly provide alcohol in excess pose a danger to society and that is what the state needs to address - - with a variety of treatment and sanctions.