A misdemeanor for killing a bicyclist.

I confess that the fact that he was a bicyclist hits closer to home with me. But the truth is, he deserves far greater punishment than what he is getting no matter who he killed. Cylist, rollerblader, grandmother, or whoever.

But the person he killed was a cylist.

I do not insist that he be tossed in jail for the rest of his life. But is too much to ask for a fine that is not laughable, decent jail time, perhaps several years worth of community service, and be ordered never to drive a car for the rest of his life?

If he has to live with the death for the rest of his life, he can certainly live with the consequences for a part of it. Sydney, by comparison, lost his.

Can’t the survivors sue the driver for wrongful death?

For a single accident that didn’t involve drugs of any sort or even speeding? Yes. Incredibly. Christ. Get a sense of scale, here.

No, it just involved total negligence in operating a vehicle weighing 1500+ pounds.

There would be no one on the road if perfect conscientiousness were required to drive. No one is always as careful as they should be.

The driver fucked up huge and I actually agree that “a fine that is not laughable, decent jail time, [and] several years worth of community service” is not an unreasonable punishment but not wanting him to drive for the rest of his life is nothing more than knee-jerk reactionism.

Vehicular Homocide which says:

(1) (a) If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and such conduct is the proximate cause of the death of another, such person commits vehicular homicide.

© Vehicular homicide, in violation of paragraph (a) of this subsection (1), is a class 4 felony.

What does “reckless” mean, in the legal sense used by the statute?

I understand the difference, but it is really a nitpick at what my argument is steering for. It was a careless example- because it certainly is a major difference- but the punishment is logical. Don’t forget that we live in a world where mistakes that may seem harmless lead to tragic consequences. Throwing a kid in the slammer for 20 years gets society nowhere.

Vehicular Manslaughter / Involuntary Manslaughter - are felonies correct? Then these will ruin his life to the final day. Would you hire a felon, no matter his story? He should be punished, but lets find the correct punishment, instead of the erratic and lazy “lets throw the waste of air in jail for the rest of his life” flaming pitchforks approach.

Proper training and awareness for drivers. Proper tests for drivers. = Far less decisions of proper punishment.

Let’s face it- we are throwing dvd players, map displays, cell phones, ipods, etc into cars- just to sell them- and hardly any awareness is spread. Information and has to be given out because most people, don’t really think about these things. isnt that the concept of gov’t. or did i forget about the greens.

I feel kind of wackily cloudy and forgiving in my argument in some way, but i really feel it could offer immediate solutions. if anyone can see a different view let me know.

Also keep in mind that it takes about $25,000/year to incarcerate someone. Throw him in jail for 20 years, and the taxpayers will be paying half a million dollars. Is the guy such a risk to the public, or so irredeemable, to make that sort of sentence a worthwhile expenditure?

The cost of incarceration should never be weighed in the decision to imprison someone. When looking at the whole picture it can become relevant, but it shouldn’t weigh-in on individual cases, it’s really only an important factor when you’re dealing with it cumulatively.

And there are god reasons to punish people besides them being a risk.

If someone murders his wife to get the insurance money, more than likely he’s not going to kill anyone else. In fact I’d say, aside from being a murderer, he’s just as safe as the next guy. But there’s concerns we need to address, like the fact that he killed someone, when we decide to incarcerate people.

Armies hold POWs in internment so they aren’t a threat on the battlefield. But societies hold criminals for multiple reasons (to keep society safe, to try and equitably right the wrongs committed, to rehabilitate in some cases and etc.)

I’m sure you know all of this anyways, and don’t mean this post to be necessarily directed at you, I’m just using your post as a sounding board to address the issue of people bringing up cost of incarceration on a case-by-case basis.

I never said he should go to jail for twenty years.

You do realize, i assume, that there are levels of punishment that fall somewhere between a misdemeanor, on the one hand, and a twenty year jail sentence, on the other?

No, he’s definitely not such a risk to society.

Look, anyone who’s followed my arguments on these boards knows that i’m not a lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key type of guy. I think our prisons are, in many cases, overused, especially for non-violent drug offences. Also, i tend to prefer prison as a remedial rather than a punitive institution, and believe that it would be nice if the prison system were reformed so that its remedial function received greater emphasis.

But i just wonder what it will take to get through to some people about the sort of bahviour that is reasonable and acceptable behind the wheel of a car. People who would not think of committing a “crime” are happy to drive their vehicles in such a manner that a death or serious injury becomes almost inevitable, and every time that a driver walks away from an icident like this with a slap on the wrist simply confirms that the consequences of dangerous behavior behind the wheel of a car are minimal.

As i’ve said in previous threads on the topic, i’m not really sure what the solution is. Are there, in fact, any deterrents that might lead people toward safer driving practices? The problem is that even taking licenses away likely won’t help, because studies conducted all over the US (which i’ve linked to in previous threads) show that uo to 70-80% of people whose licenses are suspended or revoked continue to drive anyway because they know that their chances of being caught are so slim.

Then there’s the problem pointed out by MessyPaint, that we continue to fill our cars with more and more distracting devices, and then are apparently surprised when shit like this happens.

If anyone’s interested in my previous rantings and musings on this topic, and a rather interesting debate on the subject, they might like to look at this thread.

The death would have been just as tragic no matter what happened to the driver. I agree that on the face of it, it seems the kid got off too easy. But I don’t know the facts. Perhaps the family of the victim requested a light sentence.

One of my alumni from high school killed his best friend while driving up to Miami U. He was driving too fast, as 20 year old boys tend to do, lost control. They arrested B and were ready to draw charges against him, but the victim’s parents intervened and requested leniency. I think it helped that B was so contrite. Being sorry really does make a difference, IMO.

And, face it, we’ve all made stupid mistakes. Just the other day I was driving and needed to change cassettes on my audiobook. The box had fallen to the floor and I reached down to get it. For a second or two, I wasn’t watching the road and when I sat back up I was heading straight for a mailbox. Stupid, stupid, stupid. But, in my defense, I don’t think I deserve to be called a waste of carbon or to be fucked with a rusty anchor.

So using a cell phone while driving is a lesser offense than speeding? Now who’s lacking a sense of scale here?

Why? I think every prosecuting attorney, judge, and jury member needs to know how much it costs to incarcerate a criminal, and to recognize that resources are not infinite.

One interesting system to look at is the state of Minnesota. In Minnesota, the community that sends an inmate to prison has to come up with the funds to pay for his incarceration. The money does NOT come out of a general state pool.

Under this system, Minnesotans have gotten rather more flexible with sentencing than many other states, and have done far less of the “lock 'em up for 20 years” sentencing than their neighbor state, Wisconsin. But this has not kept Minnesotans from sending folks to jail for lengthy terms, when judge and jury deem it necessary.

With this system in place, Minnesota, which has about same population as Wisconsin, with the same urban/rural, ethnic, economic mix of folks, has the same crime rate as Wisconsin, but incarcerates about 2/3 fewer people, and does it for less than half the cost of Wisconsin’s Corrections department.

Food for thought.

That’s ludicrous. So if I honestly believed I could drive while reading the newspaper, that wouldn’t be “reckless”?

Heh heh. My thoughts exactly.

Perhaps i can play on my XBox, or watch a DVD?

Well, it’s not like your doing something bad, like DUI of drugs or speeding!

26 in a 25, not so much, no, but say, 50 or 60 in the same, yes.

You’rr making a cumulative argument, my point was on an individual basis, a prosecutor needs to go for the sentence he feels is just. It’s not his job to say “well, this guy did this thing that’s bad, so technically this sentence would be appropriate, but since it costs money to incarcerate him, and this case is somewhat less serious than other similar cases, I’ll just opt for the sentence that costs the taxpayers less.”

If you want to make cumulative arguments, like:

“In general, certain crimes should have shorter prison terms, because the financial costs of incarcerating the prisoners is too high considering the mild nature of the crime.”

Then that is fine.

If we’re going to have a criminal justice system we can’t ask the prosecutor to make financial decisions like this. That’s the job of legislators and administrators of the system at large, they should and do make determinations based on the cumulative effect of all incarcerations, by looking at the big picture. The prosecutor however should never make decisions on this basis.

The example you brought up is a policy, which means it was done on the macro-level. Not a case of the prosecutor deciding individual cases based on the cost the taxpayer will incur due to the incarceration. You were arguing for the prosecutor to make decisions based on cost on an individual basis with your original post.

I have a sense of scale. Sydney is dead.

You are demonstrating society’s attitude that no offense with a vehicle should get in the way of the American “Right” to drive.