The problem then lies in which child's needs should be taken into consideration? The one who lost his/her parent's need for justice? Or the one who parent's committed manslaughter, and just wants mommy back? One child's need, and possible future problems, should NOT replace the victim's NEED for justice.
Both children's needs need to be taken into account.
Again, I'm seeing the myopic idea that prison is the only possible means of obtaining justice or punishment. I'm a conservative over here, kids. I'm in no way shape or form suggesting that we don't make cerain that this lady get's what she deserves, my issue is with the means by which this is done. I feel that it's counter productive to be using a one size fits all punishment. I do understand that above alternative punishment looms the prospect of Mickey Mouse punishments, but stuff like pillorying would also be considered "alternative punishment" these days too.
Personally, I'd rather see the Enron crooks put in a pillory located prominently in the Manhattan financial district for two hours every evening than have them soaking up the rays and tax money in a federal minimum security prison. In jail they can *hide* from what they've done without having to pay their own way.
As for alternate punishment...I'm skeptical. I see potential for abuse with that. Namely, *Oh, you're white and have a child at home, you get off easy.* or vice versa. What else, other then jail, would you suggest?
It's a valid concern, but it'd be even more valid if prisons weren't already filled up with more blacks per capita than whites already. Yeah, white people might get off more, but then, what would be different than what already happens? You can't make the argument, because the status quo is no better than the situation you're objecting to.
In theory, both prisons and alternative punishments should have a racial distribution that is based on an equitable sentencing structure. If it doesn't then the problem isn't the sentence itself, it's the guidelines and controls for giving it out.
We need to make distinctions between classes of criminals. As I said before, one-size fits all is not an appropriate nor effective means of protecting society or individuals from problems. Saying "Send them up the river!" is just an instant gratification response. You "get back at the bastards" when in the end, you may just be making things worse.
Prison is a means of confining people and is useful when they cannot be allowed to walk around free. A person like this coming back from Happy Hour can be controlled by ensuring that they do not drive or own a vehicle and for the most part, you'll be alright. If she's a repeat offender then she needs to be confined.
Society's needs dictate that the children have an opportunity to have a parent so that they don't end up becoming the next drunk drivers. If this parent has two kids who end up being messed up because of this situation, you might have two people in the world instead of just one who end up killing or hurting people later on.
Now, this is completely seperate from whether the parent is a fit parent to begin with. If the parent is an alcoholic, that's entirely different, as I have said previously. In all cases of felonious parents, I think that a Social Services investigation is warranted as a matter of course upon conviction. However, it should not be done for the purposes of punishing the parents, but rather for the purposes of doing what is best for the children and thus protecting society later on. Gleefully taking children away from parents as if it was part of the punishment is a warped concept since it really would have no effect on adjusting the behavior of the parent and could cause behavioral issues in otherwise well-adjusted children.