By DENNIS A. BROWN II
In an Aug. 14, 2016, commentary that I wrote about repeat offenders and career criminals (Who’s really getting the protection? http://downriversundaytimes.com/2016/08/17/whos-really-getting-the-protection), I pointed out one particular incident where a drunken driving accident claimed the life of a child.
Here it is again: On July 27, 2016 as Charles Cahill Jr., who was 49 at the time, was speeding on Martinsville Road in Sumpter Township when he rear-ended a mini-van with a family inside. The accident claimed the life of 12-year-old Victoria Mack, who was in the third-row seat of the mini-van. Cahill’s blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident was nearly triple the legal limit. He was charged with second-degree murder, driving on a suspended license, operating on a high blood-alcohol level causing death, and having an open container in a vehicle. He was arrested and convicted 12 times for drunk driving. He has not had a valid driver’s license since 1989 because it was suspended 17 times and revoked 24 times.
Here’s the update on that incident: On Jan. 24, Cahill was sentenced to 27 to 50 years in prison. What was so odd about it was that Cahill asked the judge to hold him accountable. Everyone, including myself and the parents of the child, are wondering how or why he was able to drive without a valid driver’s license for years and continue breaking the law after so many arrests and convictions. If Cahill should survive 27 years in prison, which means he would be at least 76 years old when he is eligible to be released, it would be the luckiest day of his life. The family of the child should see to it that Cahill serves the maximum amount of time in prison.
This particular incident is a good example of how the justice system has too many loopholes, which give criminals an excessive amount of chances to break the law. It took a serious crime — in this case, one that resulted in a fatality — for any action to be taken. The consequences are too liberal and too lenient and don’t send a serious message to those who break the law, especially when innocent victims are involved.
In that same commentary, I said that I was victimized by a repeat offender. On the afternoon of March 5, 2005, I was involved in a car accident that was caused by somebody driving on a suspended license. It happened at the intersection of Middlebelt and King roads in Huron Township as I was driving north on Middlebelt to work. The driver who caused the crash was attempting to make a left turn onto eastbound King Road. Since then, not only do I blame those who continue to break the law, but I blame those in authority who fail to assist law enforcement when the offenders are taken off of the roads by releasing them from jail after committing numerous offenses and somebody is injured or killed.
The loopholes in the justice system need to be closed to the point where the first crime that’s committed is the only and last one that’s committed. The state should make the penalties more severe. The criminal should be required to serve the full duration of his or her sentence unless he or she is sentenced to life in prison without any chance of parole. The state should also abolish the parole board. The victims or the families of the victims should see to it that the criminal stays in prison after the minimum sentence is served.
The justice system has too many flaws. Those who are supposed to help law enforcement keep the criminals off of the streets are claiming immunity instead of being held accountable. We are learning the serious and tragic consequences of that immunity. That needs to change.
(Dennis A. Brown II is a former disc jockey and radio news anchor and reporter. He currently lives in Dearborn and works for a private security company. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2007 at age 35, he also writes commentaries about autism awareness.)