An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THERE’S SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG with our drunk driving laws. The man who ran a red light and slammed into the marked cruiser of a Langford, B.C. RCMP constable, killing her, has been granted a six-month day parole two years into his sentence.
Kenneth Fenton was given four years in prison after his conviction in July 2017 for impaired driving causing death. That in itself is a disturbingly light sentence, but being granted a day parole is adding insult to injury.
His actions took the life of Sarah Beckett, a 32-year-old mother of two. The Parole Board of Canada decided it’s OK for Fenton to be out of jail if he doesn’t do drugs or drink and doesn’t drive.
The rationale for day parole is that if the inmate takes part in the community he or she is better prepared for full parole. Beckett’s husband Brad Aschenbrenner is understandably unhappy, both with the parole and with the four-year sentence.
To quote Aschenbrenner: “There’s something wrong here, and it’s not right, and it has to get fixed.”
The judge who sentenced Fenton said he was guided by other sentences given those convicted of drunk driving causing death.
Each year in B.C., about 68 people are killed in motor vehicle accidents involving impaired driving. Our legal system provides for much greater penalties.
A common refrain is, “no amount of jail time can bring back the person who was killed.” But aren’t victims and their families entitled to a reasonable level of reprisal?
Our justice system is based on the honorable premise that everyone can be rehabilitated and that everything should be done to achieve that. But the Sarah Beckett case makes you think we need less rehabilitation and a lot more punishment in our system.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.