Stovall Punished for Breaking the Law- Not for Alcoholism

by The Discovering Alcoholic on August 15, 2010

Even though the judge is the final arbiter in this case and has given Bobby Joe Stovall life in prison for his 9th DUI, there still remains a lively public debate on both the sentencing and the circumstances of the crime. Across the internet the comments range from those using alcoholism as an excuse for Stovall’s actions implying that one should not be punished for a disease to those that seemed so enraged by the disease concept that they go off-topic to argue that drinking is just a simple choice for alcoholics.

I dislike both arguments. In my opinion, the call by advocates for leniency based on Stovall being a victim because of his alcoholism reeks of a sort of pitiful entitlement, one used by practicing alcoholics for their own deranged rationalizations. Stovall is being punished with life in prison because he has continuously broke the law and injured others, not because he is an alcoholic- the charges and sentencing would remain the same regardless of a medically diagnosed condition. And for those that just seem to rage at the idea of alcoholism being a disease, I just pray that they never have to find out how badly they are mistaken.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Zentient August 17, 2010 at 8:51 am

Psychiatric illnesses are diagnosed in part based on the dysfunctional behaviors the person has exhibited, behavior patterns including those that are illegal and harmful to others. It is valid to diagnose the disease based on specific criteria, but not right to allow the person to continue to act out these behaviors and harm others. A more interesting news story would an in-depth investigative report about what happened each of the nine times he was convicted for DUI! As the convictions piled up one by one, who cared about him and his potential victims?

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2 The Discovering Alcoholic August 17, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I wondered the same thing about so many DWI’s – it would seem bythe 4th or 5th that either he should already be in jail for a significant (years) stay or that institutionalization was considered if/since all else failed.

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3 Paul August 15, 2010 at 6:59 pm

The one thing that always made me a bit uncomfortable with the disease model of addiction is when people use it to justify their behaviour. It can also be a bit self-defeating – “of course I’m drunk I have a disease”. Getting a free pass because I was an addict never really helped me; it just made me more manipulative. I do feel that believing addiction is a disease can help a lot of people deal with their problem, but it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable when people use it as a legal defence. Alcoholism might be a disease but so might criminality; is anybody responsible for anything?

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4 The Discovering Alcoholic August 15, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Agreed Paul, I’ve always been uncomfortable when alcoholism is used as an excuse. It should always be considered part of the problem, but not an excuse.

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