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  #1  
Old 7 Dec 2012
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Angry Drunk drive, kill a biker, get 1 day in jail

From my local newspaper:
Impaired driver who killed motorcyclist gets one day jail, probation

Impaired driver who killed motorcyclist gets one day jail, probation
By LOUISE DICKSON, Times Colonist December 6, 2012


Accused drunk driver Tracy Smith, left, enters the Western Communities Courthouse Thursday.
Photograph by: LYLE STAFFORD , TIMES COLONIST

An impaired driver who killed motorcyclist Jana Mahenthiran on the Trans Canada Highway on Canada Day 2011 has been sentenced to one day in jail and three years probation.

Tracy Dawn Smith, a 36-year-old mother of three, pleaded guilty on June 19 to impaired driving causing death.

At Smith’s sentencing Thursday, Judge Robert Higinbotham imposed the shortest jail sentence with the longest possible probation period. He ordered Smith to continue treatment with the VisionQuest Recovery Society at Harte House in Surrey, where she has essentially been under house arrest since the crash.

Higinbotham also imposed a 10-year driving prohibition and ordered Smith to complete an additional 200 hours of community service.

Mahenthiran, a 47-year-old information technologist for Maximus Canada, died when Smith’s car crossed the centre line of the highway and hit him head-on. According to police and witnesses, Smith was in a rage, intoxicated and hostile and blamed the crash on Mahenthiran.

Reading about the loss suffered by Betty, Mahenthiran’s wife of 22 years, and his mother, Sarojini, was emotionally wrenching, Higinbotham said.

But the judge also considered Smith’s disadvantaged life, growing up in a chaotic home with a mother who also suffered from substance abuse.
Smith was physically and sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend. Her husband, whom she married at 17, also abused her.

By age 15, Smith was severely addicted to drugs. She has been hospitalized a number of times for psychiatric issues and has attempted suicide several times. She suffers from depression, panic disorder and anxiety, Higinbotham noted.

At her sentencing hearing last month, James O’Rourke, executive director of Vision Quest, told the court that Smith had the cognitive function of a nine-year-old at the time of the offence. She has performed more than 100 hours of community work and participated in many programs. Smith has also been clean since Mahenthiran’s death.

In reaching his decision, Higinbotham took into account Smith’s ability to make judgments, at the time of the crash, was at a nine-year-old level. He also found she has progressed to the point where rehabilitation can be considered a reasonable prospect.

Sentencing Smith to prison will render her progress meaningless. Society is best protected if Smith continues as a ward of Vision Quest, not a prison inmate, he said.

“In this case, a loving husband and son needlessly lost his life, and those who survive him will carry the pain of their loss with them forever. That is a fact that cannot be changed by anything forthcoming from this court. In simple terms, the issue is whether his death will be for nothing, or whether it may be a catalyst to the saving of many more lives, including the offender,” Higinbotham said.

Outside court, Smith’s lawyer, Bob Jones, said he was pleased with the decision.

“Had she gone to jail, she may have come into contact with some very hard individuals who may well have influenced her and attracted her back to her drug taking habits,” said Jones.

O’Rourke was also pleased with the decision.
“Justice won, not vengeance,” he said.

Mahenthiran’s friend Bobbi Bjornholt said she understood that Smith had made significant progress at the facility, but wondered at what cost.

“The cost of Jana’s life? I’m not sure that’s a good trade,” Bjornholt said sadly.
ldickson@timescolonist.com
© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist
-----------------------------------------------------







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  #2  
Old 7 Dec 2012
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That's crazy...
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Old 7 Dec 2012
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Originally Posted by MountainMan View Post
That's crazy...
Totally crazy.

She should be doing 15 yrs to life for this, which is essentially second degree murder.

How are ya, Tom?
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Old 7 Dec 2012
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Originally Posted by Docsherlock View Post
Totally crazy.

She should be doing 15 yrs to life for this, which is essentially second degree murder.

How are ya, Tom?

Agreed, you have to feel for the family members left behind and the lack of justice.


All is good, how about that snow out there? Makes a person want to take a month off to drink with their mates
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  #5  
Old 7 Dec 2012
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Really shocking lack of punishment. The Judge needs to spend some time in jail too.
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  #6  
Old 7 Dec 2012
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Originally Posted by brclarke View Post
Reading about the loss suffered by Betty, Mahenthiran’s wife of 22 years, and his mother, Sarojini, was emotionally wrenching, Higinbotham said.

And yet the paper chose to print not a single word of it. That to me adds massively to any injustice.
The villain gets all the column space detailing life's problems - the victim and family get not even half-an-inch of respectful obituary or tribute. Not a word of what he'd done in life.

That's how the press is these days.
Don't ever buy this paper.....
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  #7  
Old 7 Dec 2012
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McCrankpin, that's a very good point: there's only one sentence devoted to the victim's family, yet the killer gets paragraphs to tell her sob story. I've written an email to the report to make that same point; if I get a response I'll follow-up.
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Old 8 Dec 2012
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I made the mistake of reading that article first thing in the morning before heading off to school. I'm still fuming but slowly heading towards sadness at the gross injustice of the one day sentence. I quite frankly don't care about her tough life and there need to be serious consequences for her actions. Maybe if we as a society weren't so soft on everyone all the time, she would have felt consequences for her lifestyle earlier on and maybe someone would still be alive as a result. I'm by no means a right wing "law and order" type but a one day sentence is simply contemptuous of her victim and his family.

I did not know her victim personally but he was a well liked member of the local biker community here and his loss was felt by all of us. I hope his family will be able to find some peace and move on in spite of the sentence.


...Michelle
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  #9  
Old 8 Dec 2012
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I don't know enough about the facts of the case to have a strong opinion in one direction or another. I do wonder what purpose would be served by a longer sentence: would it dissuade this woman from getting involved with abusive people or using illegal substances? Would it improve her cognitive functioning? Would it dissuade others from driving while impaired? Keep other people safe by keeping her off the streets? (although if so, for how long?)

I really wonder about this. Sometimes I work with people who've done lots of prison time, and they don't seem any safer to themselves or those around them (including me) than people who've skated all their lives. I work with a lot of people who've suffered almost unimaginable abuse during their childhoods or as adults, and sometimes giving them prison time seems to merely confirm their views, therefore their lifestyle choices and responses. When we think about using threats of negative consequences (e.g., serving time) as a means to alter anti-social behaviors (say, driving while inebriated and potentially killing an innocent), it seems to me worth noting that this sort of threat really means little to your average enraged and inebriated developmental 9-year-old, no matter what her chronological age.

What's more, even if such people are imprisoned early, sooner or later they're back on the streets--driving, raising kids, getting married, facing choices about substance abuse. What then? How often does prison really teach the desired lesson? In this particular case, I'm thinking what she really needed earlier in her life was exactly what she's getting now--a highly structured program aimed at rebuilding her actions, cognitions and emotional functioning in a more pro-social form. If she'd gotten that early in life, maybe none of this would have had to happen.

Or maybe I'm just a starry-eyed idealist. That's ok. And maybe she's not going to stick with the program--she'll just go through the motions for a while before busting loose and wreaking more havoc. It's just that in the knee-jerk reaction (which I happen to share: "How the hell could they sentence her to a single day for killing someone?") it's worth also thinking about our overall goals, and what we can do to move ourselves closer to those goals. Prison might not fit the bill.

Sez I, at least.

Mark
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  #10  
Old 8 Dec 2012
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That's a shame.

Of course it happens down here as well. This woman killed two, and crippled another and basically walked. While on bail she was loaded for one of her drug tests and court appearances.

Mickey Mosher Trial Recap
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  #11  
Old 8 Dec 2012
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Humm...

No amount of punishing the criminal will restore the victim to life.

No amount of fine will pay for the joy of that persons presence, nor their potential contribution to society.

So what do you do to the criminal? And how do you return the criminal to society such that they are a person that won't re-offend?

Very hard call that.

Me?
I'd like the criminal treated as having "a cognitive age of a 9 year old" as put forward by the defence. That is they would have a court appointed guardian who would oversee their activities in the community and at home. They behave as a child they should be treated as such, so the guardian would have control over what the criminal can do. Let see .. for the next 9 years (9+9 = 18 years old).

Further I'd like to see a monetary payment to the victums' estate - say 15% of the criminals gross earnings (including any benefits e.g. unemployment etc.). I have not put a time limit on the payment... Oh sale of all vehicles owned by the criminal, with the sale money going to the victums' estate.

I'd also question the family life she is providing for her children... are they well taken care off? Being given a good personal development (specifically not being developed as future criminals!).

Don't known about "Vision Quest". May be they are doing some of the above.

But 'we' are stuck with the courts ruling so ... help enforce it.

If I were local I'd keep an eye out for her driving any vehicle... report any sightings to both the police and the news media. A photo would be good. You don't want her killing or maiming any one else?
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Old 8 Dec 2012
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Smile

Mark,

You clearly smoke too much of the local dope.

Prison serves many functions, such as:

- protecting the public from dangerous individuals
- deterrence to those contemplating crime
- retribution or revenge for the victim or their family
- rehabilitation for the criminal.

It is a big, big mistake to assume that the thought processes enjoyed by many in the wider population also apply to many criminals; sure, some are smart, but the majority are usually cognitively challenged in some way or another.

As an otherwise liberal, pink and fluffy, bunny loving ex-hippy, I think we need bigger, nastier prisons to fulfill the first three objectives, with perhaps a vocational training training prison to which those who might be released can graduate following good behavior prior to release.

I like the idea of the perp having to make financial restitution through pay docking or asset stripping to victims, too.

COI I have spent significant periods of time dealing with criminals, both incarcerated, about to be incarcerated and in various stages of their criminal careers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
I don't know enough about the facts of the case to have a strong opinion in one direction or another. I do wonder what purpose would be served by a longer sentence: would it dissuade this woman from getting involved with abusive people or using illegal substances? Would it improve her cognitive functioning? Would it dissuade others from driving while impaired? Keep other people safe by keeping her off the streets? (although if so, for how long?)

I really wonder about this. Sometimes I work with people who've done lots of prison time, and they don't seem any safer to themselves or those around them (including me) than people who've skated all their lives. I work with a lot of people who've suffered almost unimaginable abuse during their childhoods or as adults, and sometimes giving them prison time seems to merely confirm their views, therefore their lifestyle choices and responses. When we think about using threats of negative consequences (e.g., serving time) as a means to alter anti-social behaviors (say, driving while inebriated and potentially killing an innocent), it seems to me worth noting that this sort of threat really means little to your average enraged and inebriated developmental 9-year-old, no matter what her chronological age.

What's more, even if such people are imprisoned early, sooner or later they're back on the streets--driving, raising kids, getting married, facing choices about substance abuse. What then? How often does prison really teach the desired lesson? In this particular case, I'm thinking what she really needed earlier in her life was exactly what she's getting now--a highly structured program aimed at rebuilding her actions, cognitions and emotional functioning in a more pro-social form. If she'd gotten that early in life, maybe none of this would have had to happen.

Or maybe I'm just a starry-eyed idealist. That's ok. And maybe she's not going to stick with the program--she'll just go through the motions for a while before busting loose and wreaking more havoc. It's just that in the knee-jerk reaction (which I happen to share: "How the hell could they sentence her to a single day for killing someone?") it's worth also thinking about our overall goals, and what we can do to move ourselves closer to those goals. Prison might not fit the bill.

Sez I, at least.

Mark
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Old 8 Dec 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MountainMan View Post
All is good, how about that snow out there? Makes a person want to take a month off to drink with their mates
Wot a bloody good idea! Why didn't I think of that?!
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  #14  
Old 8 Dec 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
I don't know enough about the facts of the case to have a strong opinion in one direction or another. I do wonder what purpose would be served by a longer sentence: would it dissuade this woman from getting involved with abusive people or using illegal substances? Would it improve her cognitive functioning? Would it dissuade others from driving while impaired? Keep other people safe by keeping her off the streets? (although if so, for how long?)

I really wonder about this. Sometimes I work with people who've done lots of prison time, and they don't seem any safer to themselves or those around them (including me) than people who've skated all their lives. I work with a lot of people who've suffered almost unimaginable abuse during their childhoods or as adults, and sometimes giving them prison time seems to merely confirm their views, therefore their lifestyle choices and responses. When we think about using threats of negative consequences (e.g., serving time) as a means to alter anti-social behaviors (say, driving while inebriated and potentially killing an innocent), it seems to me worth noting that this sort of threat really means little to your average enraged and inebriated developmental 9-year-old, no matter what her chronological age.

What's more, even if such people are imprisoned early, sooner or later they're back on the streets--driving, raising kids, getting married, facing choices about substance abuse. What then? How often does prison really teach the desired lesson? In this particular case, I'm thinking what she really needed earlier in her life was exactly what she's getting now--a highly structured program aimed at rebuilding her actions, cognitions and emotional functioning in a more pro-social form. If she'd gotten that early in life, maybe none of this would have had to happen.

Or maybe I'm just a starry-eyed idealist. That's ok. And maybe she's not going to stick with the program--she'll just go through the motions for a while before busting loose and wreaking more havoc. It's just that in the knee-jerk reaction (which I happen to share: "How the hell could they sentence her to a single day for killing someone?") it's worth also thinking about our overall goals, and what we can do to move ourselves closer to those goals. Prison might not fit the bill.

Sez I, at least.

Mark
The people you have not mentioned in your passage is the victim's family and how they feel about what has happened to their relative and how the law has delt with the person responsible. I personally believe that the sentence should help them believe that justice has been done as well as punish the offender, in this case I expect it has failed to achieve this and added insult to injury.
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Old 8 Dec 2012
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Wonder if this judge would have agreed with and been happy with the rationale for the sentence and the length of sentence if the victim had been a relative of theirs.
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