Apr 27, 2011 - SENTENCE NO DETERRENT IN DRUNK DRIVING DEATHS (Brad & Krista Howe's case)

More time in jail won’t bring Brad and Krista Howe back — but a longer sentence might have prevented more orphans.

That clear message of deterrence was the only justice available to five young children deprived of their parents, a loving Red Deer couple senselessly killed by a drunk driver. 

The kids didn’t get their justice. Not even close.

Instead, the man who drunkenly plowed his pickup truck into their parents’ car will likely walk free in nine months, paroled after serving one third of his pathetic 27-month sentence.

Yes, Chad Mitchell Olsen is sorry, even weeping in court for being so stupid and selfish that night in February 2010, when he drove at triple the legal limit.

“I don’t know if you can ever forgive me,” Olsen said.

“I can’t imagine the pain that I caused to your family and especially to the children. I want you to know I am truly sorry.” 

But punishing Olsen is just part of the sentence — and the feelings of the 24-year-old from Sedalia, Alta., ceased to matter when he slammed into the side of the Howe’s car.

Hopefully, Olsen spends the rest of his life wracked with guilt and regret.

That’s the price you should pay for killing people and making orphans out of five children. 

But justice is more than making one idiot feel bad — justice requires that a crime isn’t likely to be repeated, because the consequences are too great.

A 27-month jail term — reduced to nine months with good behaviour — wouldn’t even discourage a shoplifter.

Olsen’s sentence isn’t justice — it’s a slap on the wrist for the criminal, and a slap in the face of the family he destroyed.

“It’s like a huge insult,” said Sandra Green, Krista’s mother and grandma to the five children.

Friends of Brad and Krista echoed the disgust, as news of the feeble sentence spread.

“UNBELIEVABLE!!!! Not unexpected, but certainly unacceptable ... Sandra, I’m so sorry to hear this, I really hoped we’d all be wrong and that he would be held accountable,” wrote one outraged guest on the Facebook site dedicated to their memory.

“WRONG ... WRONG ... WRONG!! My heart, thoughts & prayers continue to go out to the family,” typed another.

The outrage is all the more poignant, given the family’s fight for tougher impaired driving laws, spearheaded by a website entitled “It’s not an accident, it’s murder.”

Green wants automatic 30-day sentences for those caught driving impaired, and a life-time licence ban for anyone nabbed a second time.

Strong ideas — but effective deterrence requires a court system willing to throw the book at guilty drivers.

Right now, three years is all a first offender expects for killing someone.

The maximum sentence for impaired causing death is life, but a long history of reserving severe sentences for the worst offenders has eroded the Criminal Code.

Now, a guy like Olsen can rack up nine speeding tickets and numerous driving infractions, and still spend less than a year behind bars for killing innocent people.

It’s why the Crown asked for just three years in this case, knowing the crime isn’t worth more than a short stint in jail, because Olsen is a first-time offender who said sorry.

Even the requested three-year sentence — a year-and-a-half for each wasted life — was deemed too severe by the court.

“There is a message, I don’t think it’s as strong as the message we wanted to send,” Crown prosecutor Anders Quist told reporters outside of court.

“The message needs to get out there that drinking and driving is selfish and stupid,” 

If that was the intent, it failed miserably. The only message here is just how little two lives are worth.

Source: Calgary Sun


Last updated on: 2013-01-16 | Link to this post