DUNKLIN COUNTY, MO (KAIT)- The roads are packed with thousands of drivers. But, would you say you trust the person in the vehicle next to you?
It's a question we posed after a fatality in Dunklin County, Missouri back in May. Forty-three-year-old Douglas Stinson slammed head on into another vehicle. The driver of the vehicle died. The night of the accident Stinson was charged with not only 3 counts of 2nd degree felony assault, but also drug possession.
And it's not his first run-in with the law. 8 investigated and discovered Stinson was a previous drug offender. Region 8 News took a deeper look into Missouri State Highway Patrol crash reports to see if any trends stood out. We pulled crash reports between 1:00 am Sunday May 12 to 11:00 pm Wednesday May 15. There were twenty-three total arrests, twelve of which were multiple drug or DWI offenders.
Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Sokolof says it's a headache, "Of course it's a frustration. When you see the same people over and over and over again."
According to Missouri Court documents, here are just three multiple drug offenders found in our investigation.
"When it comes to multiple offenders, repeat offenders, some of the people we have it becomes problematic. You know, they are not subject to the same minimum service time," said Sokolof. He says many serve only about 10 to 15% of the sentence before they are right back on the streets. "The Department of Corrections and Board of Probation parole views drug cases as less serious," said Sokolof. @
He goes on to say drug cases are often referred to as a "victim-less" crime. But most concerning is Douglas Stinson, a repeat drug offender, responsible for a deadly crash on May 12th.
We covered the story. Four people were seriously injured in a head-on crash in Dunklin County. Douglas Stinson crossed the center of the road and hit Rebecca Berry car head on. Rebecca Berry had two passengers, all three suffered serious injuries. Berry later died.
"Yeah, it happens, someone who is a drug offender, gets out, gets high, and drives a car and somebody is killed. That's not a good thing and that person should be and will be dealt with fairly-harshly," said Sokolof.
According to Missouri Court records, Stinson has 4 drug related offenses under his belt. The night of the accident before Stinson was released to hospital, he was charged with possession of marijuana, meth, and drug paraphernalia.
While drug cases are often referred to as a victim-less crime, at what point do you say this person is a risk to society? "Obviously they present a significant drain on the community, it just a question of priorities and allocation of resources," said Sokolof.
Sokolof says there are drug programs through the Department of Correction, but they are only on a volunteer basis, not mandatory . "You can't make somebody get help, and have it be effective. You can certainly encourage them by making the alternative sufficiently distasteful," said Sokolof. He says the programs does have a high recidivism rate for those who take part, but beds are limited.
Sokolof says it's a much bigger problem than Dunklin County. He says it's up to the legislature to decide the Department of Correction needs to keep these repeat drug offenders in jail. Sokolof says until that happens, the cycle will likely continue.