Sentence should stand

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2002

I read with great concern that there will be a review of the sentencing of Michael Glaser on July 1. For those Juneau residents who don't know, Mr. Glaser drove drunk in April 2000, killed two people and injured another. He was convicted of two counts of second degree murder and one count of first degree assault.

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He was sentenced by Judge Jonathan Link to 55 years in prison with 33 suspended. Mr. Glaser appealed, his sentence was deemed "significantly greater" than those imposed in similar cases, and the sentencing will be reviewed. I believe that this is an opportunity to make strides toward changing societal norms in Alaska.

As an instructor for the state-approved Alcohol and Drug Information School, I am well acquainted with persons who repeatedly drive drunk (as Mr. Glaser admitted he has done). To be eligible for ADIS, students must have only one drunk driving conviction. However, the overwhelming majority admit to driving drunk "occasionally" to "regularly."

These drivers have not only impaired skills and reaction times but also impaired perceptions of their actions. Drunk driving in Alaska has been described as "something everyone does," a "normal" part of socializing and "not a big deal." Clearly, this is a misguided and dangerous thinking caused by a culture which does not view drunk driving as the heinous crime that it is. This perception will not change without community education and consistent consequences for violators.

The original sentence given to Mr. Glaser is neither extraordinary nor extreme. If, as a people, we are to condemn these criminal acts of violence and reaffirm societal norms, then Mr. Glaser's sentence of 55 years with 33 suspended should stand.

Dawn Miller


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