Monday, December 8, 2008

Smithtown Teenager Kills Three with His Car, Gets Only 30 Days in Jail

The scene after the crash caused by Steven Badke
(ABC 7)
While this happened a while ago, I feel the need to post about it because I feel it is an important issue and a glaring one. Last week a teenager from Smithtown, NY named Steven Badke, Jr. was sentenced to 30 days in jail as well as handed down $900 in fines relating to a car accident in which he was doing 80 mph, crossed the center line of Jericho Turnpike, and smashed into a minivan. Three people died that day - the son of the driver of the minivan, 13, and two passengers in Badke's car, both 17. The final charge that Badke was convicted of was reckless driving, a misdemeanor.

The original charges of criminally negligent homicide were thrown out by Judge C. Randall Hinrichs because he said that Badke's actions were that of someone who merely failed to perceive risk, rather than the legal definition of criminal negligence which stipulates that a person must create risk. I would argue that going 80mph and crossing the center line to pass another vehicle creates a serious risk to others (indeed, it took three peoples' lives in this case), but Judge Hinrichs seems to think otherwise.

So while Badke will serve only 10 days for each life he took (if he even serves the full 30), an equally dumb professional football player may well go to prison for over 42 times as long as Badke for carrying a gun and shooting himself in the leg, killing no one and injuring only himself. Yet the ironic thing is that 43,443 people died on American roads in 2005 (according to the DOT) while just under 31,000 deaths were reported due to guns in 2005 (with 55% of those deaths resulting from suicide). So if ten thousand more people are killed every year by a car than a gun, why does someone who kills three people while driving like a maniac get sentenced to less than the mandatory minimum for someone who merely possesses an unlicensed firearm (without intent to use it on another person)? It just does not make sense. Would Badke only be getting 30 days if he and his friends were fooling around with guns rather than cars?

If you kill someone recklessly, you kill someone recklessly; it does not matter how. If you go out randomly firing a gun around and hit someone, resulting in their death, you've killed them. If you go around driving without any regard for the people around you and hit someone, resulting in their death, you've killed them. I don't see much of a difference. If you're convicted of having an unlicensed firearm, you are a felon and can never legally own a firearm again. How much do you want to bet that at some point Badke will get his license, and thus the ability to drive, back, despite killing three people in a 100% avoidable car accident in which he was 100% at fault.

I'm not advocating the softening of the gun laws, I am saying that we need to harden the driving laws. You want to drive like that and kill people, you don't get your license back. Period. You kill multiple people while driving recklessly, you pay for it with more than 10 days per death. If you got your license permanently taken away for life for something like DUI, don't you think people would think twice about it? If you knew that you faced serious prison time - not just a slap on the wrist - for killing people while driving, don't you think people would be a little more careful on the roads? Instead, folks know that they can drive however they want and get away with it. This case is simply an example of that.


  1. 30 days is still plenty of time for him to get prison raped!

  2. You people are sick! Leave the kid alone! Let god be the judge, not you! You have no clue what he may suffer and only a crazy person would compare a car ACCIDENT to a pulled trigger!

  3. Badke was fooling around with a car and Burress was fooling around with a gun. Badke killed three people and received 30 days in jail; Burress shot himself resulting in little injury and faces 3 years minimum in prison. Something about that seems off.

    A car accident occurs when you follow laws and still manage to get in a wreck. Doing 80 on the wrong side of a major road with a double yellow line and getting into a wreck is not exactly an "accident."

    While Badke may suffer due to his actions (actions have consequences) I can't imagine that it is on the same scale as the family of the dead, whose loved ones died as the result of someone else's actions. Many people turn to the justice system when they have been wronged in life and it just seems that when Judge Hinrichs says the theft of your loved one's life is worth 10 days in jail for his killer, justice (at least here on Earth) is not served.

  4. Tell me why I should feel badly for a person who stole three lives and had no remorse!! He sat in that courtroom with a smirk on his face and on another occasion playing video games oh his cell phone while waiting in the hallway to be called in. Mind you this is in front of the families of his victims. Boo Hoo for him!!

    What did he suffer a few days of sitting in a courtroom or how about only 16 days behind bars. That's right only 16 days!!

    So Maria think about how lucky you are that this was not one of your loved ones. My little brother is no longer here with me and my family. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH WE ALL SUFFER! Steven did not pull a trigger he stepped on the gas pedal. A MINIMUM of 82 to 87 mph. A car is worse than a loaded gun almost every moron has one and everyone is a target. Three beautiful boys are gone from the families who loved them and not even an "i'm sorry" was ever uttered from his mouth. It was said by his lawyer how sorry he was. Well actions speak louder than words. His actions were just smirks and as far as I am concerned he basically received a slap on the wrist.

  5. Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool.

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