Editorial: Would stricter consequences for crime deter recidivism?

Published 6:34 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2019

People across the country are watching court proceedings unfold after a pickup driver reportedly crashed into a group of motorcyclists over the weekend in New Hampshire, killing seven.

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, pleaded not guilty to seven counts of negligent homicide, and a judge on Tuesday ordered Zhukovskyy remain in prevention detention because of his past driving record.

Zhukovskyy was reportedly towing a flatbed trailer at the time of the incident and was reportedly driving erratically and crossed the center line on a two-lane highway when he crashed into the motorcyclists.

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According to news reports, Zhukovskyy had been stopped twice on suspicion of drunken driving in the past seven years, and most recently was arrested in May for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Connecticut.

He worked for Westfield Transport, a transport company that had been cited for various violations in the past two years, including having drivers in possession of narcotic drugs and a driver without a commercial driver’s license, among other violations.

Though the outcome of Zhukovskyy’s May charge has not been determined, his 2013 charge led to one year of probation and a 210-day license suspension.

We recognize the value of second chances and in considering a person’s criminal history before making decisions, but we question in this case and many others if whether heavier consequences for a person’s earlier crimes would deter additional future crimes.

For example, in Freeborn County a person driving with a revoked license or no insurance often gets a $200 fine for each count, along with $80 in court costs. DWI charges can bring probation and fees.

Will paying $280 deter someone with a revoked license from getting behind the wheel again?

Driving is a serious matter, and only those truly qualified should be allowed the privilege to do so.

The same is true for other more serious crimes where we see perpetrators sentenced to probation. Would actually serving time in jail or prison deter people from repeating their crimes?

Find out more about Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines during a public hearing in front of the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission at 1:30 p.m. July 18 in Room 1101 of the Minnesota Senate Building, 95 University Ave. W. in St. Paul. The hearing is being held to consider proposed modifications to the state sentencing guidelines resulting from legislative amendments, non-legislative amendments and technical corrections.

This is an opportunity for people to voice their opinions on these modifications and would be a good chance for people to learn about how the state’s sentencing guidelines are made.