A Waco man, Russell Don Sneed, was sentenced to life in prison earlier this week after being convicted of his ninth DUI (The Houston Chronicle story is available here). Because he had previously been convicted of at least two felonies, he was facing a minimum of 25 years in the case. According to the man’s defense attorney, Sneed suffers from alcoholism (surely an understatement), and the accident did not result in any injuries.
Beyond the fact that no one was seriously injured, it is hard to find a silver lining here. Surely, Sneed bears responsibility for his actions, and he should not be permitted to further endanger the public. But how does an individual get to his ninth DUI? Rather than sending Sneed to prison for the rest of his life, would it not be more appropriate to have involuntarily committed Sneed to a State hospital to receive treatment for his alcoholism? Wouldn’t this be a more cost-effective and humane approach in cases like these?