HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Here's a problem to chew ...
Introducing Discussionist: A new forum by the creators of DU

Tue May 7, 2013, 11:48 AM

Here's a problem to chew over:

Back on Halloween, 1968 , a 17 year old and 19 year old were out drinking and driving around. Three girls, 10, 8 and 4 years old went out in the dark across a busy main road (not at a crosswalk) to buy something at a grocery store. The 17 year old driver hit and killed the 4 year old, and kept on driving. He later claimed he thought he hit an animal, but the hit and run was big news for weeks. He knew he'd hit and killed a child.

It wasn't until now, 45 years later, that the now 62 year old man has been identified as the driver.

Now, he stayed on the right side of the law for 45 years. Drinking and driving back then wasn't the socially condemned crime it is today. Under the circumstances, even a sober driver might have hit the child. He never came forward, but a 17 year old would have been very scared. Those around him had to know something happened, but they didn't step forward either, so it's a fair assumption is family told him to stay quiet. (BTW - the then 19 year old man has not been identified.)


What should happen to this man today? Now what the law says, but what you think should happen if you could decide.

19 replies, 1004 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread

Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:00 PM

1. K&R for some pondering time (this one's a toughie)... nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:03 PM

2. That's a boat load of assumption there

But accepting all of your assumptions for a moment, back then a 17 year would have more than likely been treated as a juvinile. Not sure where they were, but both were probably too young to be drinking where they were. So they'd both probably get some sort of "diminished capacity" defense. At this point, the 62 year old would be liable for vehicular manslaughter, probably doing some fraction of a year in prison and followed by a rather length parole. The 19 year old would have to be identified as part of any deal, and that person would get some sort of accessory charge, and maybe a "contributing to the deliquency".

If I could decide, I'd struggle mightily. I'm not a big fan of our current judicial system, ESPECIALLY in the category of incarceration and punishment. So I'd be lenient on the front end, with the milder consequences lasting pretty much for the rest of his life.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to zipplewrath (Reply #2)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:07 PM

5. As it happens, the current report is that the statute of limitations has been

exceeded. For now, the criminal justice system is not involved. The family of the victim is very upset. I don't know what I'd say if it had been my child who was killed, but I don't believe in vengeance. Since he has behaved properly for 45 years, I see no point in sending him to prison now.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to hedgehog (Reply #5)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:36 PM

14. What is the role of punishment

Your OP is a fairly classic philosophy question, one you'd probaby reach quickly in any basic course in philosophy. What is the value of punishment? The value to the punished, the value to the punisher, and the value to other actors (society, culture, relatives, etc.). The thing is that it isn't clear that punishment has much value at all. Any value extracted tends to be founded upon the ASSUMPTION that it has some preventative or "restorative" value (i.e. it will teach a lesson/change future behavior). The problem is that scientifically, most of the justifications can't be supported. Punishment more than likely does not make people conform in the future, but makes them better at not getting caught.

And the concept of retribution for the victims/society/relatives doesn't hold much water either. There is little if any tangible use of punishment to the victim. They almost never feel "safer" because of the punishment. It rarely makes them feel "better", they more often than not still feel the victim despite the punishment.

Restititution can often be demonstrated to be useful. It both provides a "natural" consequence to behaviors, and compensates a victim in some sense to "undo" or "correct" their consequences. However, certain things can't be "compensated". A lost life is difficult to compensate. A fatherless child or a childless father cannot be compensated. At that point, punishment merely takes from the perpetrator, but does not serve the victim.

Of course incarceration has a purpose beyond punishment. It can serve to protect society from future acts of the individual. However, although we incarcerate people, we tend to do it in a way which is also intended to "punish" and it hasn't shown to be useful to anyone, including the punished. And in fact we tend to incarcerate in ways that can and do lead to future victims (mostly other inmates and guards).

None the less, it is a universal norm that we punish people. Most parents involve punishment in their child rearing methods. A small few try to experiment with punishment free, but it is very difficult, in part because it is such an integral feature of society that many parents won't really understand that they are punishing their child, not just "disciplining". No one has really successfully created the "punishment free society". It is interesting to try to imagine one though.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to zipplewrath (Reply #2)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:10 PM

8. Actually, not so many assumptions.

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/04/why_cant_fulton_police_arrest.html

There have been worse travesties of justice. Punishment won't make the victim whole ever again.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to LiberalAndProud (Reply #8)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:40 PM

15. What the driver knew and when

The primary assumption, and relatively critical to the whole exercise, is what the driver knew at the time. The OP suggested that the driver knew and that relatives and friends knew. I don't see anything demonstrating this as much more than an assumption, mostly on the OP's part.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to zipplewrath (Reply #15)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:48 PM

17. I would make that same assumption. Why else the lies?

Parkhurst was questioned at the time when police learned he had been in an accident that same night. He confirmed a crash, but said it occurred in the neighboring town of Volney, police said. Although his claims that he had hit a guard post didn't match up with the damage to his vehicle, Parkhurst wasn't questioned again, police said.
http://news.yahoo.com/cops-id-driver-ny-girls-1968-hit-run-152941506.html


Still, even conceding that we don't know what he knew and when he knew it, it worked out okay for him in the end.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to LiberalAndProud (Reply #17)

Tue May 7, 2013, 01:08 PM

19. At least we agree it's an assumption (n/t)

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:06 PM

3. I don't think it's so much if he should pay for it, but...

how much should he pay for it.

There's no simple answer. but a lot has to do with the kind of life he led since, and his remorse.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:07 PM

4. Nothing.

It wasn't a murder. We don't know if he was over the legal limit. Any memories about the incident are hazy at best. I just don't see how he could get a fair trial at this point.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to LuvNewcastle (Reply #4)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:08 PM

7. The ability to provide a fair trial is an excellent point.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to LuvNewcastle (Reply #4)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:11 PM

9. That's kind of my thoughts

It's been so damn long, what kind of evidence can there really be to determine what really happened? The child got hit. Are we SURE he was the driver, and didn't hit the kid after someone else did?

How did they find all of this out 45 years later? Did he confess? And if he did confess, did he really even do it? He could have been hauling around guilt for 45 years of something he did, but wasn't exactly as he remembered it.

I don't know. It's just so damn long ago, and if he's been out of trouble since, I have a hard time knowing what to think about all of this.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:08 PM

6. The guy has probably struggled with this for 45 years

At this point, I'm not sure what they could do to him, if he has stayed on the right side of the law all of this time, that could be remotely worse than what he's done to himself keeping this a secret.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:14 PM

10. In theory, he owes a debt to society

I don't know what the laws from 1968 say, but this matter likely needs to be addressed based on the law.

Is there any news on this case?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Renew Deal (Reply #10)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:18 PM

11. I presented the facts as outlined in the local paper. As I said, the authorities

indicate that no criminal charges can be brought after 45 years. It's a classic illustration of the concept of the statute of limitations in action. What I'd like people to do here is to take the case as presented and say what would happen if you wrote the laws and were prosecutor, judge and jury.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:19 PM

12. Sounds like you'd erect a statue in his honor. nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dreamer Tatum (Reply #12)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:29 PM

13. Hardly - it's really a question about the entire purpose of our prison system -

how much do we want to punish crime, and how much do we want to deter it?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:44 PM

16. 2 years probation, with the stipulation that he participates in anti-DUI programs for teens

during that time.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #16)

Tue May 7, 2013, 12:48 PM

18. Interesting proposal!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread