07/07/12 — True justice: In the zeal for 'fairness' some forget the victims

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True justice: In the zeal for 'fairness' some forget the victims

 It was a study in contrasts this week.

The governor vetoed a bill that would have made it harder for North Carolina death row inmates to challenge their sentences on the basis of alleged racial bias.

And then the legislature narrowly reinstituted that law.

Now, another bill sits on the governor's desk -- this one giving judges the power to give drunken drivers who kill the sentences they deserve.

Let's hope this one sticks.

There is too much talk these days about prisoners' rights. True, there are people who are wrongly convicted, and every effort should be made to find them and to explore their cases. But the Racial Justice Act is nothing but a distraction -- and a chance to clog up the system with cases that, upon review, are nothing short of ploys by guilty parties to keep the judges busy.

It is a miscarriage of justice -- and another round of horror for the families of the victims who must now relive their pain and loss.

The law that is waiting for the governor's signature is a chance to do the opposite. It offers true justice to victims of drunken drivers.

In the past, sentencing limitations have allowed guilty parties to walk away with punishments that in no way fit the severity of the crime.

Today, you have met two families who lost people they love to the criminal carelessness of drunken drivers -- and who have endured the heartache of knowing that the punishments the drunken drivers received were mere shadows of what they deserved.

There was no justice here, not really.

We forget sometimes that justice is not just for the guilty. It is also for the victims.

It is time to stand up and say -- do the crime and you will face real time. No more coddling. No more excuses and no more second chances.

If we were tougher, perhaps more people would think twice before picking up a gun or before getting behind the wheel of a car after they have been drinking.

And although it will not mitigate their loss, or make the pain go away any sooner, perhaps the families of these victims might be able to sleep a little better at night knowing that their loved ones did not die unnoticed or unavenged.

We should be remembering people like Kristie Jernigan Lee and Jacob Floars and the thousands of other victims whose lives are lost much too soon at the hands of criminals.

And we should fight for justice for them.

That is our duty -- and our responsibility.

Published in Editorials on July 7, 2012 11:36 PM