Treatment vs. Punishment

I wanted to share some comments I received from a person who read the story we ran about a Poulsbo man convicted of his 11th DUI.

In the note, the person says that treatment, not punishment, will ultimately solve the chronic DUI problem. That is a bit of a dichotomy to what the state legislature just watched go into law: that five DUI convictions in 10 years constitutes a felony.

Anyway, here’s her comments. Feel free to leave your personal feelings as well.

If you want to do a story on John Harris why not tell all the facts. Of course his punishment was needed but how about how the system has failed him. He has a serious drinking problem and setting in jail won’t solve it. He need some extensive, long term treatment, not only for the drinking but psychological help as well. He was in prison for 7 years and nothing was done to help him. Then he got out and was right back into the same mental condition he was in before going. He has been to the six week, band aid treatment but that isn’t enough for a person that has as large a problem as he has. Why not send him to a state hospital where he can get some intense counseling and medical help? Of course he said it was up in the air about treatment if it is the same kind he has had before and it didn’t help. I have talked to John and he really wants to get the drinking taken care of but the short term treatment just work for everyone.

8 thoughts on “Treatment vs. Punishment

  1. I think that Judge Holman nailed it when he commented that the sentence was no longer about the defendant but was more importantly needed to protect the rest of us who are at risk by his behavior. It is pretty clear to me that Mr. Harris has a substantial drinking problem, that should have been evident on DUI #2. And yes he does need to get some help, I bet if you look at all of his previous sentences and conditions of release there was most likely court ordered treatment, alcohol classes, victims panels, hopefully a suspended license, and a myriad of other opportunities to be helped. I side with Judge Holman in this one and I really don’t care what Mr. Harris needs, I need my family to be safe on the road and with him on the streets that is impossible.

    I disagree with the idea that the system has failed this individual in anyway, he failed himself long ago and now he needs to be somewhere where he won’t endanger the rest of us. Personally I don’t care if this guys wants to drink everyday for the rest of his life, just don’t drive.

  2. The system failed this guy? What a joke.

    America, the land where someone can drink themselves into oblivion, get behind the wheel and then blame the government for their ELEVENTH DUI CONVICTION because they weren’t provided “intense counseling and medical
    help.”

    If your life sucks, fix it. If you choose to not fix it then I hope you like living with roommates and eating your meals with a spork.

    Millions of Americans contribute to society and lead lives free of criminal
    wrongdoing and they got there without government intervention.

    Deciding to drive a car is not a disease or some sort of psychological disorder, it is a conscientious decision you make on your own accord using your very own judgment.

    As long as people give homage to the bleeding heart liberals that treat people like this guy as “victims of the system,” nothing will ever change.

  3. All persons that receive a DUI are ordered to take an assessment. That is the ticket to get help. The first time. Even if he had just two DUIs that would be a clue that there was a problem. But eleven, that is ridiculous. There are treatment centers all over the place and if someone can’t afford one our government will pay for it. This guy failed himself

  4. A treatment center for the first DUI, fine.

    A second DUI gives him jail, car confiscated …our roads should be safe for the innocent, law abiding folks driving precious cargo…their children.

    No drunk driver should be allowed to kill and destroy lives on our roads. No one.
    …in my opinion,
    Sharon O’Hara

  5. Jeff, the problem is when some people drink they become incapable of making conscientious decisions. As a matter of fact anyone that is the least bit impaired, has impaired decision making skills. America is one of the very few countries that does not have zero tolerance laws. Zero tolerance gives no question to the offenders as to if they are ok to drive. Simple solution: do not even have a sip and drive or go to jail. Maybe America will catch on to third world county simplicity someday.

  6. Yes, lets tell some more facts.
    After 3 counts of vehicular assault plus a hit and run conviction along with 11 DUIs, Mr. Harris and the commenter don’t get it. On this last DUI he refused the breath test because he had nothing to lose. He had already lost his license a long time ago and it was a jury of his peers that found him guilty. His court appointed attorney failed to get him off and back on the road with the rest of us. He has been ordered to treatment more than once and chose not to follow the plan. At any time in his past he could have checked himself into a treatment facility (most will work with a person for payment) and there are organizations that are completely free that would have welcomed him and helped him with his drinking addiction. But of course that would have meant that he would need to take responsibility – What a thought. He apparently didn’t want to solve his drinking problem badly enough.
    In this last arrest, his adult son was a passenger in the car and I am sure he knew his father’s long history with DUI. Nobody called a cab or a sober driver when they left the casino where Mr. Harris could apparently afford to drink and gamble. I am sure that by now Mr. Harris knew that when he got in that car under the influence with a suspended license that he was committing another crime and he knew what the consequences would be.
    The court didn’t fail Mr. Harris. In fact the State of Washington has been way overly generous in providing him with defense attorneys, probation services, thousands of hours of work by judges and prosecutors and law enforcement, jail services, jurors, and many opportunities for Mr. Harris to change his behavior including treatment and assessments. Now he gets to spend some time in the Kitsap County Jail. Maybe he will strike up a friendship with Mr. Mast or Mr. Sorensen with their double digit DUI convictions and they can discuss how they will run their defenses next time at our great expense.
    We have paid enough for Mr Harris’s drinking problem. It is way overdue that he and offenders like him start paying for the CRIME. An average of 17,000 family members lose their lives every year in the U.S because of drunk driving. The system has failed the victims.

  7. Elaine, I agree that once someone has started drinking their judgment is altered. But that is nothing new. We all know that. The responsible person would make the necessary decisions and arrangements BEFORE they start drinking as to avoid driving under the influence. If they fail to do that, they are making a decision to use their impaired judgment.

    Intoxication is no excuse for endangering the safety of others.

    But, I’m intrigued by the zero tolerance law you mention.

  8. What about responsible friends and family…do they play a part?
    Yes I think so. Anyone knowingly allowing a drunk to drive without doing ‘something’ if nothing other than a phone call to report it…is as guilty as the driver for whatever happens.

    The drunk can be warned that if they start the car and drive onto the public road law enforcement will be called. To tell them a drunk is out driving and give them the color and make of the car AND the license plate numbers, if known..
    I don’t know what the response would be from law enforcement…but don’t we have a duty to protect the drunk as well as the people s/he might injure or worse?
    …in my opinion,
    Sharon O’Hara

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Enter the word yellow here: