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One of my greatest frustrations as a judge is the difficulty in communicating to the DWI offender the enormous potential for tragedy that drinking and driving may precipitate. Although the Victims Panel has not changed the behavior of all offenders, it has had a significant impact on some, and affected most participants to varying degrees. The program does not replace treatment for the alcoholic, but it has helped many break through their denial. Participation does not relieve the offender of such statutory punishment as jail or a fine. This program is designed to provide offenders with a very personal perspective on the agony inflicted upon innocent victims by drunk drivers. We hope that this perspective, so difficult to convey in the courtroom, may stop the offender from drinking and driving in the future.
David S. Admire,
Northeast District Court
King County, Washington
I want it up-close and personal. People who get behind the wheel after a few drinks don't understand the kind of impact they can have on someone else's life or family.
Central Orange County Municipal Court
Los Angeles, California
Anticipation and excitement nearly consumed me when I learned that I could sit in and observe a panel presentation. The impact of the panel was devastating but inspirational. Through teared eyes and an ever-running nose, I could not help but be overcome by the awesome impact the panel had on its audience. This was not a sterile third hand recitation of facts or "you shouldn't oughta's," but a powerful first person glimpse of the devastating tragedies that have been wrought by unthinking drunk drivers.
Roy A.H. Rainey,
Bremerton Municipal Court
When you hear from people who have suffered a loss, you will never be the same.
Waukesha County Circuit Court
The Panels are extremely constructive and helpful to drunk drivers. Your program, in personalizing the offense of drunk driving, is in my view the most significant program that has been developed for dealing with drunk drivers.
Merton B. Tice, Judge
Seventh Judicial Circuit Court
Rapid City, South Dakota
In Judicial Training Programs at the National Judicial College, we are including Victim Impact Panels as a viable sentencing alternative to combat the overwhelming problems of drunk driving.
Mark A. Schuering,
Eighth Judicial Circuit
State of Illinois
In sentencing over 1000 DWI offenders, I have found nothing that is as consistently effective in reaching individuals as the Victim's Panel. The honest to God communication and emotion that occurs during a victim's panel is something that an individual will carry in their soul for the rest of their life. Congratulations for your dedication to this life-saving program.
Allan H. Coon, Judge
County Circuit and District County
Josephine County, Oregon
Maybe this is a way of making sense of the loss of a loved one. I'm making it a standard part of my probation and I'm hoping other judges will too.
Stephen O. Rushing,
Pinellas County, Florida
In the law profession, we're trained to mitigate sentences imposed on our clients. But in a drunk driving case, we have an obligation and an opportunity, after it's been proven that the client is guilty, to make sure the offender receives the best possible education and treatment to mitigate any problem the offender may have with alcohol. Often that means recommending that the offender attend a Victim Impact Panel. That's not a traditional legal role. But if we (judges) know a lawyer has that kind of commitment, we're going to be strongly influenced by his or her recommendation for sentencing.
Wayne Anderson, Judge
1st Municipal District Traffic Center
Cook County, Illinois
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