If you are like me, you try to avoid anything to do with going to court. That means obeying the law and staying out of trouble. On the other hand, there are times when you have no choice but to make an appearance in the courtroom. For example: going through a divorce, child custody, being a character witness, a law suit for something and my least favorite, a felony case.
During the time between Jenny’s death and Jesse’s sentencing, I got an education in the court system. Legal paper after legal paper was delivered to my mailbox. Most of that paperwork was informing me on what was going on, which needed no response but some of it I did have to respond to.
As the “family of the victim” I was entitled to as much information as I wanted and I wanted to know everything. That meant whenever Jesse did something, like appear in court, I was notified and given the choice as to whether to attend or not. My status also enabled me to have direct contact with the “Victim/Witness Specialist”. She kept me informed on everything that was going on. Not only did she warn me on what to expect and what not to expect, she was my go-to person if I had any questions.
I greatly appreciated all she did for me. Not only was she informative but she was kind, considerate and patient. With all the cases she had to handle, I was still treated like I was her only concern.
Then came the sentencing date and emotions were high. As I listened to the ADA, she did her best to convince the judge why Jesse should receive the maximum sentence. He needed to be made an example so others would be deterred from drinking and driving. At the time I agreed with her and prayed that the judge would, too.
When the sentence was handed down, it wasn’t exactly what the ADA asked for but it was good enough for me. I was thankful that Jesse would be held accountable for his actions. I wanted others to think twice before they drove drunk. I went home pleased with what transpired that day, thankful it was over.
A few months later, reality hit. Time after time DUI offenders were given a slap on the wrist instead of jail time. Time after time, third, fourth and even five time offenders were able to go on their merry little way with little or no consequences. I even read of a few cases where there was a death caused by a drunk driver but they only got a year or two of prison time. Where is the justice in that?
Wisconsin has a drinking problem and a slap on the wrist isn’t going to solve it. Neither is giving a sentence of a year or two. For the record, I’m not against drinking. I’m against drinking and driving. I’ve always been that way, even before Jenny was killed.
How do we solve this problem? I really have no idea but something needs to be done. I don’t want other mothers to go through the same pain I have.