Patterico's Pontifications

8/17/2008

Crime, Treatment, and the Revolving Door of Punishment

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 2:29 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

The Austin American-Stateman reports on an Austin-area man who has been sentenced to his second life sentence:

“Martin DiCarlo, 46, was arrested in October and charged with a felony, driving while intoxicated while on parole.

Since 1983, DiCarlo has been convicted of six driving while intoxicated charges and, in 1993, of burglary of a habitation. He has been released from prison on early parole five times since his first felony drunken driving charge — for his third such offense — in 1985.

DiCarlo was first sentenced to life in prison in 1997, when he pleaded guilty to a charge of carrying a machine gun. He received the life sentence because it is a felony for a person convicted of a felony to carry a weapon. He was paroled in 2006 after spending nine years in prison. “

The prosecutor said it was ridiculous that DiCarlo had been released so quickly after his first four convictions, and even DeCarlo admitted it was safer for the public when he is locked up. Apparently his problems stem from substance abuse, a problem he has never successfully handled.

I want to live in a compassionate society where we help people and give them second chances. I also want to live in a society where we do everything we reasonably can to keep people safe. It’s not safe to let habitual offenders out of jail on early release, no matter how much sympathy we feel for them. So use my tax money to provide more treatment programs to those who want to take advantage of those programs. But use my tax money to build more jails, too.

— DRJ

31 Responses to “Crime, Treatment, and the Revolving Door of Punishment”

  1. “DiCarlo took the stand in his defense Friday. He told the jury of his struggles with sobriety. Before his most recent arrest, he was in the habit of drinking nearly 1 liter of liquor every week, he said.”

    Not to make light of the situation, but he’s either a pussy or he’s lying. My money is on the lying.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  2. 1. daleyrocks:

    My money is on the lying.

    Addiction short circuits a lot of stuff in the brain, often the addict doesn’t even know when they are lying to themself.

    However, it may be that DiCarlo is so far gone that he has squandered all of his body’s capacity for alcohol and a liter a week of hard stuff would be enough to keep him extremely well lit.

    And, as much as I would love to see everybody be successful at recovering from addiction, DRJ is right when she says:

    It’s not safe to let habitual offenders out of jail on early release, no matter how much sympathy we feel for them.

    Sometimes the most compassionate thing we can do for an addict is lock them up.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  3. EW1(SG) – I’ve known some folks who have lost their ability to handle capacity over the years, but with this guy’s background a liter sounds more like his daily consumption instead of weekly. The article also mentioned he did crack, so maybe he became more of a “recreational” crack smoker lately.

    I know a few alcoholics who had weight problems who switched to drugs because they had no calories. Sounds like good progressive reasoning doesn’t?

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  4. I don’t want to give the impression that I think this jerk is a Boy Scout, but I would be a LOT more worked up over this if either of the “Life Sentences” was over doing something I think should result in a Life Sentence. Killing somebody while driving while intoxicated and on parole, for example. Or actually shooting somebody with the machine gun in question, for another. I have to hope that the parole board would feel the same way, although in this day and age that is far from a sure thing.

    Hurt a human being, and all of a sudden my sympathy for YOUR problems drops precipitously.

    Of course, we don’t know what the background of either of the “Life Sentences” really is. Maybe he did shoot somebody, and it was plea bargained. Maybe he did run into a school bus full of nuns, but there was some question as to right of way, so they nailed him on his blood alcohol levels.

    C. S. P. Schofield (eaaf98)

  5. In Texas, a third DUI is already defined as a Class C Felony, with 2-10 years in prison.

    This guy was on his TENTH DUI. How many more “second” chances does he deserve?

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  6. “I want to live in a compassionate society where we help people and give them second chances. I also want to live in a society where we do everything we reasonably can to keep people safe.”

    I want a pony.

    Kevin (834f0d)

  7. Who the hell are these idiots who thought it would be a good idea to parole a drunk-driving, machine-gun toting burglar?! $#%*^%&.

    I swear, these parole boards… Where did we find them, and why didn’t we leave them there?

    Alan (c61d4e)

  8. Kevin…
    Please stay away from legislative bodies – you will only become very frustrated.
    With all the horse-shit you’ll have to deal with,
    you’ll be convinced there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere;
    but, there never is.

    Another Drew (688ffe)

  9. daleyrocks #3:

    with this guy’s background a liter sounds more like his daily consumption instead of weekly.

    Sounds like, doesn’t it?

    Gotta run out for a minute, BRB.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  10. CSP Schofield,

    Killers who don’t care about other people are obviously dangerous but I also worry about people like this. Addicts’ crimes are often unexpected and unpredictable. It’s sheer luck if he hasn’t hurt anyone yet. After so many second chances, why would we want to wait until he kills someone?

    DRJ (a5243f)

  11. A student of mine had his skull broken by a brain addled vagrant. I have often wondered if the people who put the attacker out on the street were ever notified of the results of their actions?

    tyree (899a76)

  12. Re the liter a week being a lie, or not.

    My money is on some reporter with a degree in “Urinalism” who does not know what either a liter or a week are and who didn’t listen to read or understand the “facts”, whatever the hell “facts” are, no doubt something the patriarchy invented to keep the working urinalist down.

    BlacquesJacquesShellacques (7058ae)

  13. The story is an example of how tough a disease alcoholism can be. After his first felony DUI in 1985, DiCarlo was undoubtedly told reoccurrences would result in further and longer prison time yet he continued to choose the bottle.

    Make him a Kennedy aide, Patrick or Ted, it matters not.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  14. I think the Russian Czars had a good idea, internal exile. chronic drunk drivers should be sent to one of the Aleutian Islands, perhaps Amchitka or Umnak. just keep all cars off the island, let them work to support themselves, and let them drink all they want.
    the same thing would work for pedophiles. put them on a different island, adult males on one side, femals on the other. deliver food regularly, no kids around,no need for big walls.

    John Cunningham (1cb7c8)

  15. DRJ,

    Like I said, I don’t think this jackass is a poor abused baby by any means. I just was struck by the difference between the visceral shock of “second Life Sentence” and then the letdown when I read that he wasn’t a murderer, rapist, or child molester. I think of “Life in Prison” as a sentence earned in blood and pain.

    I worry about people like this, but I also worry about a society that gives the State the authority to lock somebody up for life before he’s hurt anybody, on the grounds that he probably will. I don’t like where that leads at all.

    C. S. P. Schofield (eaaf98)

  16. I also worry about a society that gives the State the authority to lock somebody up for life before he’s hurt anybody

    Charles Manson never hurt anyone on that infamous night so long ago, yet he’s got a life sentence.

    I’ll say it again. Third DUI in Texas is already a Class C felony, on a par with Vehicular Manslaughter (in the second degree) and Second Degree Burglary with a firearm. What should the fourth such incident be worth? The fifth? Sixth?

    The tenth?

    How many more chances does this guy deserve to get before he proves that he is incapable of learning the lesson that drunk driving is against the law?

    Do we wait until he actually kills someone (or several someones)? If so, what do you say to that family (those families) for the tragedy caused by an 11-time (or more) repeat offender?

    And let’s not forget, this is not the tenth time he has driven drunk. This is only the tenth time he got caught.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  17. So we’ve come full circle — we cut addiction and mental health programs so much that we end up giving the mentally ill room and board for life anyway, in jail. That room and board just happens to come with guards now.

    Is this guy a social problem? Yeah. But the moronic “prison is the solution to everything” crowd are engaging in serious overkill here. Life in prison because he’s a drunk and an addict?

    But as always, as long as we’re locking someone up, they’re happy.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  18. “So we’ve come full circle — we cut addiction and mental health programs so much that we end up giving the mentally ill room and board for life anyway, in jail.”

    The unintended consequences of JFK’s, “Community Mental Health Centers Act of 1963″. This law began the closing of the nations mental institutions in order to save money and be more humane (?). Instead, all it did was create a need for more prisons. Former mental inmates and the new mental cases that are constantly being “emancipated” from their parents custodial care at 18 years old are now free to seek illegal drugs to medicate the disease in their heads. And those people who are on the cusp of being crazy or sane, honest or dishonest, are willing to supply these drugs. If anyone had told the powers at the time that closing the mental hospitals would result in an explosion of drug abuse and related violence beginning in the mid-sixties, they’d have thought them crazy.

    C. Norris (41173e)

  19. New book out “Evil Genes” should be read by all. Or, perhaps the lefties would prefer to negotiate with these types to stop their behavior. I personally don’t want to wait until someone is dead because of their inability to control their addiction.

    Sue (4d3ef7)

  20. “Life in prison because he’s a drunk and an addict?”

    Phil – No, because he committed a felony. What is your solution?

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  21. No, because he committed a felony. What is your solution?

    Aha, once again, the response to my criticism of the effects of certain laws is to say “but they’re the laws! We have to enforce them!”

    What’s my solution? Well, about the only thing I can think of that would be less productive would be executing the guy.

    Shelving human beings for life, to be taken care of by the state with no opportunity to be productive members of society is a better option only if you place some inherent value on human life.

    Let me make a suggestion: Mandatory committment to an addiction treatment facility for, say, one year, followed by assisted-living in which the guy is drug tested daily and supervised, but lives on his own; prescribe him one or more of the variety of drugs out there that treat the brain chemistry of addiction; assign him a vehicle with a breathalyzer on the starter (such devices are commercially available) and put him to work in some sort of work-release program.

    All of that isn’t really expensive or time-consuming, compared to the alternative, which is simply giving him room, board, and a guard for life (a life that could end up being 50 or more years).

    But such treatment doesn’t give the “jail-solves-everything” folks the same satisfaction as locking him up for life. They want a total beat-down of human being, and won’t settle for anything less. And that alone — for them at least — is worth the cost his life sentence will bear.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  22. The one-trick racist pont returns.

    JD (5f0e11)

  23. “Aha, once again, the response to my criticism of the effects of certain laws is to say “but they’re the laws! We have to enforce them!””

    Phil – Wrong again. Your throwaway line was “Life in prison because he’s a drunk and an addict.”

    You ignore the fact that he was breaking the law when he was driving while drunk. It’s possible to be a drunk and not break the law – no problem. It’s also possible to be addicted to legal substances.

    I have no problem with your proposed solutions, but from the background, seven DUI convictions, suspect that much of it has already been tried with no success on this individual.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  24. Phil #21 – Normally I’d agree with you that simple addiction isn’t best solved by incarceration, unless it’s in a mandated treatment facility to remove the addiction.

    But this isn’t a case of simple addiction. His addiction may or may not be the root cause of the behavior, but there is no argument that the behavior is above simple negligence. This behavior is extremely dangerous, and he has shown a willingness to repeat it, despite numerous instances of legal rebuke, and, most certainly, a previous trip (or many) to rehab.

    I am not convinced of the capability of our medical establishment to absolutely determine the causality involved in additive, violent behavior, and I do think that the general public deserves protection from such addictive and violent individuals. He is not simply drinking alone in his house. He continues to drive a motor vehicle in a state of inebriation and has been in the possession of a machine gun as a felon. The NRA will not side with him on such possession. And yes, it is violent behavior, as the repeated operation of motor vehicles and criminal activity in his state constitute a willful neglect of the consequences of his actions.

    He doesn’t care, and he’s been lucky, not wise. Phil, had he been repeatedly arrested for firing his machine gun into the air in his neighborhood, would you object to his incarceration even though nobody had been hit by his bullets?

    While you opine that his ‘problems’ are the direct result of his substance addiction, I feel fairly certain that neither you, the State, nor anyone else would be willing to accept financial and/or criminal responsibility for the absolute success of his rehabilitative program. With this lack of accountability, the ‘experiment’ of testing this hypothesis on the public becomes irresponsible in the least, and probably criminal in the most.

    No one is saying that this isn’t sad, but this man has been incarcerated repeatedly, and every time has continued this dangerous behavior unrepentant when released. It is no longer the story of an addiction.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  25. No one is saying that this isn’t sad, but this man has been incarcerated repeatedly, and every time has continued this dangerous behavior unrepentant when released. It is no longer the story of an addiction.

    What is it a story of, if not of addiction utterly out of control? He isn’t robbing people, or selling drugs, or doing anything else for personal gain, as far as I can tell. He’s on a self-destructive course that threatens to take others with him, from what I can tell.

    Again, there’s no doubt that some sort of intervention is necessary to protect the public. What I take issue with is that all of his prior “intervention” appears to have consisted of simply tossing him into jail and then letting him out early.

    And now that tossing him into jail has proven to be ineffective at treating his addiction, we . . . toss him into jail for longer?

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  26. All we want to do is kill, jail, and oppress minorities. Right, Phil?

    To hell with the laws. Get this man some treatment. It is not his fault. The State failed him.

    JD (5f0e11)

  27. Ah, but JD, who is the State?
    The State is all of us.
    We have failed this poor lamb.
    …reminds me of the Officer Krupke scene in West Side Story…
    “We’re depraved ’cause we’re deprived”

    It surely appears that this individual has had many chances to get his act together, and has not managed to deal with his problem.
    Therefore, society has to protect itself from one who is a danger to himself and others, by incarcerating him where he will be unable to repeat his anti-social behavior.
    Better that he die alone in prison, than to take others with him roaming free.

    Another Drew (09d3ed)

  28. AD – I forgot to include the /sarc tags. As an alcoholic and an addict, clean for several years now, I have no sympathy for this person. He has been given countless opportunities, which he has failed, utterly, to avail himself of. He poses a direct and immediate threat to himself and others.

    JD (5f0e11)

  29. Phil #25 – What is it a story of, if not of addiction utterly out of control?

    The addiction isn’t out of control, Phil, Martin DeCarlo is. You didn’t address my point about accountability. There will be no accountable party if this man is released and kills due to his own actions. Would you be willing to serve time and pay the costs of this man’s deprivations, should he lapse back into his familiar pattern and destroy an innocent’s life? If not, then you must agree that the victim (and there will be one eventually) will be the sole provider of this cost. How you can recognize that reality and simultaneously imply that your stance is one of justice is self-contradictory.

    He isn’t robbing people, or selling drugs, or doing anything else for personal gain, as far as I can tell.
    Let’s just forget about your implication of the association of Capitalistic and criminal behavior and realize that he actually was convicted of burglary and possession of a machine gun. Last time I checked, a machine gun performed poorly at opening bottles of alcohol and/or cooking crack.

    And to the notion that ‘addiction’ is to be treated separate from the addict, I think you don’t know the actual process. From what I’ve seen, every addiction treatment program deals directly with instilling the sense of personal responsibility for the addictive behavior. This flies in the face of the attempted separation of addict and responsibility. One man more than any other understands this most likely, and that’s Martin DeCarlo, which explains his own admission that he can’t be trusted among the rest of the population.

    You can’t incarcerate addiction. You must deal with the addict himself, and there must be a limit to the number of chances. Without that harsh reality, it will become harder to deal with other addicts, and you will have exacerbated the problem instead of helping to solve it.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  30. Drumwaster,

    To suggest that Manson, the leader of the people who committed those murders, is in some way similar to a habitual drunk who hasn’t injured anybody strikes as a deliberate attempt to avoid my point.

    I understand that a habitual drunk driver is highly likely to maim or kill somebody eventually.

    I understand that a habitual felon is too.

    It still bothers me when we lock up “criminals” whose “crime” is an action that hurts nobody, because we think that action means that they are likely to hurt somebody in the future. “You haven’t done anything that actually harmed anyone, YET, but we know you will”, gives me the creeps.

    Maybe we have to, but I think it should bother us.

    C. S. P. Schofield (eaaf98)

  31. CSP – Are you against DUI laws?

    JD (5f0e11)


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