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Copyright (c) 2009 Ginny Maziarka. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Does Mark Benson deserve life sentence?

I read Jessica McBride's take on this hot topic. I must admit, I am not in the shoes of the family that lost the precious lives in this tragic accident, so I am on the outside looking "in."

McBride states:
"On the other hand, the judge will also have to weigh the defendant’s life as well. Benson is 56. He faces a total of 53 years. There’s no question that Benson should, and will, get a severe sentence. The last remaining question for the judge is: Should Benson now forfeit the rest of his life? Yes, I say he should..."

I believe the consequence should fit the crime. My initial reaction is "a life for a life." Lives were taken; a life must be sacrificed as restitution. The consequence should fit the crime. Let's read on, though.

"Benson was not drunk on alcohol that day. Still, as a recently sentenced repeat OWI offender, his case does raise the question of why he was on the streets to begin with on the day he killed."

Here is a key element to this case. Benson was not drunk. He had been a repeat OWI offender, but was proven sober at the scene. Why he was on the street at any given time is not an issue. He could have been going to the store for toilet paper for all we know.

"I doubt that Benson intended to kill that day; however, his conduct was exceptionally dangerous and had fatal consequences. He was driving on a cocktail of prescription medication and possibly was talking on a cell phone. As a doctor, he knew better than most how dangerous it is to drive on prescription medications."

This was Benson's first mistake. He took pain medication and drove. All who has ever done this, raise your hand.

Here was Benson's second mistake. He talked on his cell phone while driving. All who have ever done this, raise your hand.


What, then, is the crime?

The crime is this.

The crime is that Benson did not go to jail after his FIRST OWI. The crime is that he did not get forced into rehab after that FIRST OWI. The crime is that the second OWI should have opened judicial eyes and taken blinders off. The crime is that these people died because Benson was not ALREADY in jail, safe and sound.

I am not discounting Benson's actions or responsibility in this case. I am simply saying that it never should have happened.

Shame on the state of Wisconsin for wet-noodle OWI laws. Both Benson and the State of Wisconsin are at fault.
When will Wisconsin WAKE UP and deal with the troubling OWI law that lends FIVE CHANCES to drunks to kill someone?

The State Bar of Wisconsin states (bold emphasis mine):

"In Wisconsin, a first OWI is a civil offense with no jail time, subject to a forfeiture of $150 to $300, and a $355 surcharge. Subsequent offenses, second through fourth, are criminal misdemeanor offenses while fifth offenses and above are felony offenses. Fines for subsequent offenses range from $350 to $10,000. A felony conviction subjects the person to imprisonment from six months to six years. Misdemeanor OWI sentences are served in the county jail and will range from five days to one year."

5 comments:

MichaelJ said...

Mark Benson was NOT proven to be sober.

He merely proven NOT to be under the influence of Alcohol.

Anyone who says that they have never driven under the influence of pain killers is a flat out liar. However in Bensons case it was a long standing and well known ADDICTION. And that is where -in my mind at least- the line is drawn. He and the people around him had ample chances to get him into treatment....it never happened.

Hell even when his 10 month stint in WAUKCO jail forced him into sobriety, he bonded out and within a few days was back ordering his drugs from a "pharmacy" in Florida.

Had he not been back to his same old tricks after making bail, then yes perhaps their could be a case for SOME leniency. But as it stands now he SHOULD get maxed out!

wbman said...

Ginny, I understand what you're saying, but this wasn't some innocent mistake with a pain killer. Ambien is not an innocuous sleep aid; it's a powerful "hypnotic" medication. Some people get a euphoric feeling by trying to stay awake after taking it. That's why Benson was on the stuff during the day. As I recall, he was also on Xanax, so that's two controlled substances in his system. This was drug abuse, not trying to drive with a Tylenol-PM.

I view him as a threat to society and deserves life in prison.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

MichaelJ: I stand corrected on the "proven" statement. Thank you.

Don't get me wrong. I believe he should be maxed out, too. COMPLETELY.

I am simply pointing out the failure on the part of the law in Wisconsin to prevent a tragedy such as this in the first place.

MichaelJ said...

WBCA:

I completely agree that our OWI laws are a mess.

And I commend you for trying to do something about them....

Benson should be the reform poster child!

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