Debra Barnes, Kialla
I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel disgusted with the sentence handed down to Jatinder Panesar.
This is not the first time someone has been prosecuted and jailed for finding themselves involved by chance in a tragic circumstance, but I hope it is the last.
I believe the legal system has betrayed the societal values of common sense and compassion in prosecuting and jailing Jatinder Panesar.
I don’t believe there would be a person who has never made a mistake when driving (was just over the speed limit, didn’t see the sign, car, truck, bike, pedestrian, cut off by a car, forgot to dip lights, continued to drive in thick fog, heavy rain or when tired, misjudged distance, was distracted, drove with dirty windscreen, or was blinded by the sun).
We are all a split second away from being in Jatinder Panesar’s position and there but for the grace of God go we.
Why have we sent this man to jail and what will it achieve? Nothing.
It just dehumanises and saddens us all.
We cannot take away the pain of the bereaved, the traumatised or the injured.
We cannot bring back the dead, but we can learn from this accident.
We can improve visibility on intersections, we can install rumble strips, we can improve car safety and design, we can educate the public about medical conditions that impair driving ability.
Jail is designed to punish, deter, rehabilitate and keep society safe.
Do we as a society want to continue to punish someone who has shown genuine remorse, whose actions were unintentional, who is not likely to re-offend and who was suffering from an undiagnosed medical condition? I don’t.
We are not machines, we are human, we make unintentional mistakes, our brains are continually processing information, we look but we don’t see, we are being careful but accidents will always happen.
The punishment does not fit the crime.