The Chainlink

*Update 11/17/2015* Hector Avalos, 28, Western/Ogden, 12/6/2013 :-(

[expletives deleted.....]

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/10/hector-avalos-chicago_n_44...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-driver-arrest...

As usual, lead poisoning victims have got to the comments first, so do yourself a favor and don't read them.

Now comes the usual horrid wait to find out who it was, if it's someone any of us knows.....

Update.. Hector Avalos of Cermak/Wood area.  My condolences to his friends and family.

Update 11/17/2015

This is a heartbreaking decision. The judge blamed the victim for wearing dark clothes and referred to the crash as an "accident" but seemed to ignore the fact that Robert's blood alcohol level was 0.152 percent when he got behind the wheel, nearly twice the legal level of 0.08.

“[Vais] has to face the fact that what he did was wrong,” Avalos’ mother Ingrid Cossio said. “He gets a new beginning, a new life, and a new chance to be with his family, so I hope he takes advantage of that opportunity. I don’t get that with my son.”

Full Streetsblog Article:
http://chi.streetsblog.org/2015/11/17/driver-who-killed-cyclist-hec...

(seems like it would be a basic courtesy to note that a posting was updated/modified by an admin and not the original poster-h)

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Streetsblog article about the decision:
The judge blamed the victim for wearing dark clothes and referred to the crash as an "accident" but seemed to ignore the fact that Robert's blood alcohol level was 0.152 percent when he got behind the wheel, nearly twice the legal level of 0.08.

“[Vais] has to face the fact that what he did was wrong,” Avalos’ mother Ingrid Cossio said. “He gets a new beginning, a new life, and a new chance to be with his family, so I hope he takes advantage of that opportunity. I don’t get that with my son.”

http://chi.streetsblog.org/2015/11/17/driver-who-killed-cyclist-hec...

In Baltimore, drunk Bishop Heather Cook got seven years for killing a cyclist and many complained she got off too lightly. Here, the killer gets all of 100 days. Judges in Chicago always seem to find excuses for drivers who mow down cyclists. Ryne San Hamel must be rubbing his hands with glee. This is what happens when your system of appointing, electing and retaining judges is devoid of any consideration of merit. Disgusting.

This was Vais's first, 58 years old, 100 day sentence. It was her second DUI, 5X years old, 7 year sentence.  Ryne Sanhamel had several arrests, plea bargained to non-DUI, and only about 40 years old, should get the maximum sentence.

I also think the sentence seemed very lenient. I have written in other threads that I have a hard time rooting for a higher sentence in criminal cases unless I fear the bad person is a risk to commit more harm.  There is no taking back Hector's life. That cannot be undone. Still, Vais does seem repentant. It is tragic that Hector's life had to be taken for him to learn a lesson. I suspect has has learned it. From what I have read I am not as confident about other drivers who have killed riders that we have read about on this forum. I still question  the Judge's decision  but am not as horrified. Why? I get no satisfaction from doubling the suffering.  I think the only satisfaction will be successful prosecution of the civil case that will actually get something for Hector's loved ones.  No, money cannot buy or replace love, companionship  and life. But it is a much better agent for these things than  retribution. I will be much  more upset if the  family sees a similarly disappointing  result to the civil case. I am not involved and do not think it appropriate to discuss any aspect of that case. I simply want to point out that a more evolved level of justice is found in compensation  rather than calling to "hang 'em high." I guess it's my admittedly liberal bias.

I think the only satisfaction will be successful prosecution of the civil case that will actually get something for Hector's loved ones.  No, money cannot buy or replace love, companionship  and life. But it is a much better agent for these things than  retribution. I will be much  more upset if the  family sees a similarly disappointing  result to the civil case.

I agree.

Cheryl wrote: "Theories of punishment include retribution, rehabilitation, and deterrence."

Deterrence:  whatever happens to Vais it should serve not only as a deterance to him, but as a deterrence to anybody else who hears the story.  To be heard, stories like this need to be widely dispersed by the press, printed, radio, television and the internet.  I think Vais is deterred, but that's not enough.  It needs to be expanded into society.

Rehabilitation: Compare two cases: Vais was caught once driving drunk.  I would hope he learned his lesson and is rehabilitated.  But what about San Hamel?  He got several drunk driving arrests against him, including under age drinking.  Whatever punishment he got didn't rehabilitate him!  He went on to start an "All you can drink!" website to encourage drinking and I don't think it did much to discourage driving while drinking.

Retribution: What kind of retribution is going to compensate for Avalos's life?  I don't think retribution can be obtained in the criminal court.  At best, I would hope it will be done in the civil court.  How much?  Who pays, the insurance company?  Some of us drive cars, how much will this add to our insurance bill?

100 days in the slammer, and once a week labor.  Doing what?  racking leaves, shoveling snow, picking up garbage?  It almost sounds like the return of slavery, which was discouraged tho some states still practice this.

What I think would be an appropriate punishment would be to TAKE AWAY THE DRIVERS LICENSE.  No time off for good behavior.  No reduction after x-% of time.  Maybe 10 years for Vais, lifetime for San Hamel.  Let them take a bus, get a ride, take Uber, walk.  Riding a bicycle is always an option.  Some here may not drive a car, but suppose your freedom to ride your bike was taken away for a number of years; wouldn't you feel the pinch?

I didn't see any driving restrictions in the sentence, but I think this would be fair.  Not for rehabilitation, and deterrence, but for retribution.

100 day sentence for taking a life? I've never been much of a fan for incarceration, in general, but this is unbelievable. At a minimum, Mr. Vais should be compelled to perform some sort of community service as reparation. Why is it that manslaughter, when committed while DUI, is so leniently punished?

"Vais must also perform manual labor as part of the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program once a month for two years, and undergo drug and alcohol treatment."

From the SWAP web page:

"SWAP gives judges a vehicle to sentence non-violent misdemeanants and traffic offenders to supervised manual labor in lieu of jail time."

I don't think this was simply a misdemeanor or a simply traffic offense either.  Thus was drunk driving.

Manual labor once a month for 2 years. So that's maybe a whopping 200 hours of service in addition to 100 days in prison. 

I can't speak to the intentions of Vais but when someone makes sure they have 150 letters vouching for what a good guy they are, it seems he was very focused on trying to soften the sentence rather than accept real responsibility. He took a long time to admit he was guilty, putting the family through the hell of having to go to court for two years. 

I know not everyone feels this way but I am of the belief that there is some benefit to stiffer sentences when it fits the crime. A life was lost because Vais got very drunk and decided to drive instead of getting a hotel or a cab or Uber. He made a decision that cost Hector his life and Hector's family lost their loved one. 

The other aspect of this sentence that really bothers me is that the judge seems to be victim blaming. Hector was "wearing dark clothes" and riding his bike. It was an "accident". Poor choice of words. Am I the only one that feels that there is an attitude that because it was late, because Hector was riding his bike, the judge went easy on the driver? In general, I think we are too easy on drunk drivers so I feel stiffer sentences and a big cultural change are needed.

With regards to judges getting reelected, I don't believe (someone correct me if I am wrong) that a single judge has lost reelection in Chicago. That includes judges that humiliated and verbally abused people in their courtrooms. So how do we make this the exception? How do we really make this happen? It has to be more than the cycling community. And if that is not possible, what do we do to positively make a change? I am asking because I am completely at a loss. 

Just last week James lost his case (for knocking on a car) when his life was put at risk, this week Vais got a slap on the wrist, and the Bobby Cann case is going on forever with no end in sight. This is not good.  

Theories of punishment include retribution, rehabilitation, and deterrence. I agree with previous posts that retribution is not necessarily appropriate. Deterrence, however, certainly is, and 100 days for driving drunk and killing someone doesn't seem like much of a deterrent to other drivers who might also drink too much before driving.

I agree on the victim blaming. It's really unfortunate that in both cases, the judges seem to have taken the side of the driver. Definitely an indication that a lot more education and advocacy is needed around drivers' responsibilities.

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