Friday, January 28, 2011

Death sentence for DUI?

According to this report from WCGL-TV in Atlanta, that's exactly what Willie Sutton received when he was arrested for a second DUI.

Willie Sutton spent 14 hours tied to a restraint chair on the day of his death. And that's just the beginning of this horrible story.
CBS Atlanta has obtained disturbing video from inside the Coweta County Jail that tell the tormenting story of Willie Sutton's death. He was sentenced to 45 days of jail time as a repeat DUI offender. Eight days later, he was dead.

Mr. Sutton, who was suffering from severe delirium tremens as a result of alcohol withdrawal while in the Coweta County Jail, was strapped into a restraining chair that looked straight out of the 1940's for over 14 hours. At the end of the 14 hours, he was dead.
“Well, that's unfortunate there. Death doesn't stop because you come to jail.”  Coweta County (GA) Sheriff Mike Yeager.
While drunk driving is a crime, it's really a symptom of a much deeper problem. Alcoholism is not an issue that our criminal (in)justice system can expect to resolve; it's a medical condition that requires an entire support system. Mr. Sutton may have committed a crime, but he needed to be in a hospital, not in a jail cell.

Sure, there are plenty of folks who are arrested for drunk driving who aren't alcoholics and who don't have drinking problems. For the vast majority of them, a DWI arrest and the subsequent ordeal is enough to change their behavior - that's the reaction of a rational person to the introduction of incentives and disincentives. For the person addicted to alcohol, however, the strongest incentive may not be enough to overcome the addiction.

Willie Sutton needed help. Coweta County decided it would be more efficient to kill him, instead.

1 comment:

Marty said...

Coweta County "law-enforcement" officers have a reputation around the metro area of being a group of dishonest thugs. How many more people have to "mysteriously" die in their jail before the GBI gets involved? How many are sitting in prison today because of planted evidence and perjury committed by officers of the Coweta County Sheriffs Office? Truthfully, I fear everytime I have to drive the interstate through the county wondering if some rogue cop might pull me over.