If you drive your car drunk and you have an accident, your penalty will likely be more severe than if you were sober and had an accident that was your fault.

That's because drinking and driving is a crime, and if you kill someone or cause property damage in the process, you're actually committing a second crime.

Yet, if you burglarize homes or do other stupid things while high on drugs, chances are your lawyer will appeal to the courts that the drugs are responsible for your actions; that if it wasn't for the addiction, you wouldn't have committed the crimes.

The fact is, the penalty should be more stringent if you, say, commit a burglary while high. Remember, drug use is illegal, so the burglary is a crime being committed while you're committing the first crime - just like a drunk driver.

This week in Schuylkill County Court, a man was placed on probation for striking a nurse in a hospital. The individual also faced drug charges.

Probation!

What kind of a message does that send? How is probation punishment? The fact that an individual struck a nurse indicates that any other patient could have been in jeopardy in that hospital.

We're sure some lawyer told the judge that the assailant is really a good person but was controlled by the nasty substance. Who chose to take that substance?

How come people aren't held accountable for their actions anymore?

From the politicians in Washington and Harrisburg who waste the hard-earned money of taxpayers to the local druggies who use their abuse as a crutch every time they get in trouble, it seems like people just aren't held responsible for their own actions.

How often we hear of individuals being convicted of serious crimes like child abuse, robbery, or rape and have those charges reduced through plea bargaining or see where they got light sentences.

The victims are often given little consideration. The accused are given all the breaks from multiple appeals to little or no prison time.

This isn't to imply that everyone accused of a crime should be hastily put behind bars.

What we are saying is that when convictions occur, and there is guilt of the crimes, then there should be an accountability factor.

Often courts order criminals to make restitution. When such restitution doesn't occur, the saying often heard is "you can't get blood out of a stone."

Yet, these same people always seem to find money for booze, drugs, cigarettes, and even expensive cell phone plans.

It's frustrating to see how our criminals are babied, and how crime victims often have to fend for themselves.

Accountability. It's something that too often is tossed by the wayside.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com