Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Editorial: Those found guilty of DUI should pay rent

Here's another example of big-picture thinking in the Courier editorial suite, where a 3x5" snapshot is considered big.

In a one-day holiday sweep, backed by critical underfunding and lack of manpower, our lawnforcement agencies nabbed almost a thousand people on our roads threatening our lives. Given the majority that they had to have missed, and how many more they let get by every day, this ought to be hair-raising. All the unnamed Courier editor can think of in response is more fines for the perps.

These figures speak of a massive unaddressed social problem, combining our established culture of lawlessness with our most commonly abused addictive drug.

Treating alcoholism with punitive fines is a lot like trying to treat diabetes with whippings. It's stupid. Addicts don't have a choice about whether to drink, and it necessarily clouds their judgment about what they're doing. Ask Mayor Simmons. The possible penalties just don't enter the picture when it matters.

The only thing additional fines can accomplish is a little bit of state revenue enhancement, more impoverishment (and need for public services, eating that revenue) for the perps, and a lot of public revenge. This may be enough for the editor, but it's not enough for me. Has he noticed how our drug and alcohol treatment programs have lost funding and staff? Has he noticed that there are maybe two DPS officers working the highways of Yavapai County at any given time? Has he thought about how those factors might contribute to this danger? I sure don't see it in this piece.

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