Two parents were sentenced this week for allowing teenagers to drink at a party at their house. In this Illinois case, the husband was sentenced to 14 days in jail and his wife to community service. Jeffrey Hutsell insisted that he never saw alcohol and would not have permitted it. Two 18-year-olds who attended the party, Daniel Bell and Ross Trace, later died in a car crash. For the full story, click here An autopsy showed that Bell, who was driving, had a high blood-alcohol level.
This case follows the recent case of Elisa Kelly who was sentenced to over two years for knowingly allowing her sons to throw a party with alcohol at her home. For the Kelly story, click here Elisa Kelly used poor judgment in agreeing to allow the party and alcohol in exchange for a promise that they stay at the house and not drive. Ticked off parents informed the police. Kelly’s sentence is wildly out of line with other cases, particularly because no one was hurt. The prosecutors succeeded in destroying the family and imposing crippling guilt on Kelly’s two boys, who have begged to serve the sentence for their mother. ‘
These criminal cases are closely related to Dram Shop cases, which allow third parties to sue bars and other businesses for over-serving their clients. The extension of such laws to homes has been very limited and many states expressly exempt homeowners. There is no question that Kelly should have faced a sanction but there is little justice in such excessive punishment.
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