Sunday, April 28, 2013

Here we go again: Republican Rep. Ott wants to spend $250 million taxpayer dollars year on ineffective tough Drunk Driving Laws & build 17 300 bed facilities costing $236 million. “You’ve got to start somewhere."

You may have heard the conspiracy theory about FEMA prisons being built to house Republicans who dare defy the orders of our imperial president. I'm not making that up. Now we’re finding out the idea itself has roots in the conservative agenda, where crime and dissent is met with harsh mandatory jail and prison time.

Instead of treatment and the recognition of drunk driving as a disease, Republicans want to lock em up.

This is all part of the father figure disciplinary authoritarianism that has characterized the current Republican Party.

The first paragraph of this Wisconsin State Journal story lays out a frightening plan:
Measures that would boost penalties for drunken driving would cost $250 million a year and send thousands more people to jail or prison, according to estimates provided by state agencies that would be charged with implementing the proposals. The state also would need to spend $236 million to build 17 300-bed facilities to house the expected increase in people serving time for drunken driving, the Department of Corrections estimates. Those estimates don’t include the extra costs to counties whose jails would house offenders serving sentences of a year or less.
And the treatment centers relating to the rehabilitation of alcoholism…anything? Republican were outraged over the imagined FEMA detention camps for conservatives because Democrats beat them to the punch, and targeted the wrong people. Republicans want to lock up citizens, starting with alcoholics. To them, Wisconsin drinkers are basically criminals, who need to be captured and punished. It’s that simple, and quite costly.
Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon, acknowledged that the cost estimates are daunting. But he said they fail to take into account any reduction in drunken driving that might be spurred by harsher penalties. “The deterrent effect needs to be taken into account; otherwise there’s no point in doing it,” he said.

Evidence should guide legislation and there isn’t any that indicates criminalizing the offenses stops the behavior, state Rep. Jill Billings said. “We have to include treatment,” she said. “What we have to do is change behavior, not just punish.” A majority of those caught driving drunk their first time self-correct, said Billings, who helped build La Crosse County’s OWI court when she sat on the county board. Imposing mandatory jail time on offenders could create long-term effects.

“They could lose their job. And what does that do to the family?” she said.
Rep. Jim Ott is unmoved.
Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon, the bill’s co-author, recognizes the common addiction to alcohol but notes those people “aren’t addicted to driving.”
That’s Jim Ott, the former weather man and brain trust pushing this public jailing program. 

But would Ott's solution work? Not really, and only temporarily. Read this mid-80's research here, an early 2000's report here, or more recently here, from the Gainesville Sun:
Tougher punishments may not be effective in deterring people from driving drunk, according to a study by University of Florida researchers. Increases in the minimum jail time keep few drunken drivers off the road and don't significantly prevent fatal car crashes, according to the study, researchers wanted to find out if stricter regulations deterred people from drinking and driving and if the number of accidents would drop in the population as a whole. "We found out that's not the case," he said.

In order for stricter penalties to work, people need to believe they will get caught, Wagenaar said. While sentences don't deter drunken drivers … Wagenaar said that doesn't mean jail isn't a useful punishment. 

1 comment:

  1. This is just part of the plan for privatizing prisons. Spend the taxpayer dollars to build them, and then complain about the operational costs of guards and managers and feeding the inmates, thus creating the need to gift the new facilities to private prison lobby funders.

    Follow the money, as in, who eventually will benefit from the project.