Thursday, May 1, 2008

Vito Fossella Drinking and Driving Despite "Tough-on-Crime" Stances (UPDATED)

Vito Fossella (NYMag)
If there's one thing in Washington that is plentiful, besides sex, it's hypocrisy. The most recent man to shame himself by doing something stupid is New York's own Vito Fossella, a Republican Representative from the 13th District (Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn.) It seems that Fossella is the kind of guy to drink and drive. The former city councilman was arrested last night/early this morning in suburban D.C. (Alexandria) for driving while intoxicated. He cannot use the Bush excuse of "youthful indiscretions," either because he is past the age of 30.

Normally I wouldn't write about this and just tack it up to Washington politicians being Washington politicians. But looking at Fossella's stance on numerous issues, this arrest brings Fossella's moral character into question.

Fossella takes a hard stance on drugs, according to NORML, a marijuana reform group. Additionally, and this was the most disturbing, Fossella takes a "hard-on-crime" stance. One of the reasons that I am sensitive about this subject is the fact that, despite studies and empirical evidence, Washington continues to simply throw money at the prison problem in America instead of trying to rehabilitate criminals in society. This just adds to taxpayer burden and with the cost of corrections soaring, we cannot really afford this. Studies have shown that education significantly reduces recidivism and saves taxpayers a lot of money, but our politicians want to take the simple "hard on crime" stance so people don't think that they actually care about criminals.

Specifically, Fossella is against expanding services to help former inmates re-enter society (another method proven to reduce recidivism) as well as funding for alternative sentencing (like, say, alcohol treatment for a drunk driver) instead of more prisons. Despite the fact that refusing to help inmates re-enter society is illogical, many politicians will simply rail against helping criminals in any way, shape, or form. These politicians, however, better keep their noses squeaky clean lest they commit a crime and look sheepish. Fossella has not kept his nose clean, as he instead got arrested for putting others' lives in danger by driving while intoxicated. The ultimate [if not ironic] justice for Fossella would be to go to prison, for he is not a believer of alternative sentencing (this would also prohibit him from simply pulling a Patrick Kennedy, say he will go to rehab and fix himself up, and pretend that nothing happened [then again, Kennedy voted for alternative sentences].)

UPDATE 5/6/08: I just wanted to throw in a quick update on Vito Fossella's DUI debacle. His blood-alcohol level was twice Virginia's legal limit at 0.17. Fossella must, at the very least, spend five days in jail due to a state statute that places that sentence minimum on anyone who has a BAC over 0.15. Fossella was initially pulled over after running a red light and told officers he was going to pick up his daughter to take her to the hospital. Other reports state that the congressman was going to hang out with some friends. I hope that Fossella was going to hang out with friends, because if he legitimately was going to pick up his daughter in that state, that's even worse. Either way, Fossella will be spending some time behind bars, though I doubt it will change his mind on alternative sentencing.

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