Please don’t be mad at me for the title. It will all make sense at the end. I am not advocating animal cruelty in any way, shape or form. So Ginger (our dog), please stop looking at me with those big brown hound dog eyes. (Can you tell I am writing this in the middle of the night?)
Hi everyone. Firstly, I wanted to say thank you to everyone for being so supportive in sending shoes and reading the blog. I am still trying to get the word out there about The Empty Shoes Project. I am still collecting shoes from victims families and from survivors but in order to get the shoe count up, I am asking people to clean out their closets and send me any shoes. I would like to have enough shoes to represent at least the number of people killed this year. (around 1500-2200 depending on the stats you use.) If I get more then my next number would be to display enough shoes for how many have died since my Gracie. (6500 victims – 5 per day – most stats estimated between 4-6, so I averaged but I still think both estimates are too low). For these shoes, anyone can collect them and get them to me. As long as you want to support this cause. You do not have to have lost someone, yet. (Although survivors will definitely be represented there, I don’t have room to store 235,440 shoes. That is how many people will have been injured by Impaired Drivers by May 21, 2104 – although that would be a pretty cool statement to make.)
I also wanted to let you know what is going on. I did not get up to Ottawa as planned. In speaking with a few people, I decided that I hadn’t collected enough shoes yet to make as big an impact as I would like to. I don’t want to give the politicians the impression that this is not an important issue to a lot of people in Canada. So, I took a step back and figured out Plan B. (It seems like my whole life for the last 3 years has been Plan B so I guess I’m getting better at it.)
The second thing that I wanted you to know about is that I have joined up with Families For Justice and have agreed to be their Ontario representative. They are currently, not only trying to get the information about Impaired Drivers, the inadequacies of the laws, the injustice of the courts out there, but they also have a petition attempting to get a Mandatory Minimum set for anyone that is convicted of Impaired Driving Causing Death. Currently the average sentence is about 3 years. In Canada that means that they are eligible for day parole in about 5 months and eligible for full parole in about 8 months. Also, their sentences run concurrently. What that means is that it doesn’t matter if they killed one person of 5 people in a car. They will still only get a 3 year sentence. Since they are not considered “violent offenders” (just try to wrap your head around that one), pretty much all of them get their parole. Most never spend a holiday in prison.
We are asking for a 5 year minimum sentence. That still means that they would not spend even 2 years in jail but we need to start somewhere. For those of you asking if that is not what MADD does, the answer is no. MADD primarily focuses on “before the crime occurs” issues – Random Breath Tests, increased RIDE programs, trying to get the BAC lowered to .05. I don’t want it to sound like that is not useful but they only have so many resources and time.
I had a conversation with a Professor of Law who also volunteers with MADD and when he started in the mid-80’s, MADD was trying to do what we are doing but he said because the ideas were all new it was a little like “wagging the dog”, so I am going to stick with the dog analogy for explaining the whole criminal system. I suggested that they could continue to work on things at the “front end of the dog” (the things that help to educate, catch Impaired drivers before they hurt someone, and deterrents). We will work on the back on the “back end of the dog”. God knows that victims and families of victims have gotten very used to navigating around assholes (sorry, did I use my outside voice there).
The simple fact of the matter is that it really doesn’t matter if the dog’s front legs are broken or the dog’s back legs are broken. Either way the dog is still crippled. And right now, our Criminal Courts are like a dog without any legs to stand on.