Late last month Jennifer Stone, 22, pled guilty and was sentenced for driving under the influence, child endangerment, and hit and run.
Glenn County California Superior Court Judge Donald Byrd handed down the sentence of three years probation, a thousand dollars in fines, fees and restitution, community service and GPS monitoring when she commutes to and from work. While the regular formalities of the DUI sentencing remained the same, the setting certainly was not. The Willows Journal, a local news reporting agency for the small town of Willows, California, reported that Glenn County Friday Night Live, a youth activity program offered through the Glenn County Office of Education, and a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety allowed Stone’s sentencing to take place in the gymnasium of Willows High School. The program allowed hundreds of students to witness the proceedings of a DUI sentencing and hear Stone’s story. Stone, a former Willows High School student herself, was driving drunk when she flipped her car which also had 2-year-old son and a teenage acquaintance inside. Stone said during the hearing, “I woke up upside down in a vehicle hearing people in the car screaming for help. I live with that every day. I think about that constantly.” Dale Hanson also volunteered himself to be sentenced in front of the students. Hanson was driving drunk when he drove through a construction zone at a high rate of speed and endangered the construction workers, all while leading CHP on a high speed pursuit. Hanson evaded arrest for several years when he was arrested in Oregon and extradited to California. Judge Byrd sentenced him to three years in state prison. Principal Jerry Smith, who knew Stone when she was a student, said of Stone and Hanson, “I know it was a lot harder than just going to court. They gave themselves up for this process so others can learn from it.” It seems that some of the students did. Following the sentencing, freshman McKenzie Butler stated, “I think it made an impression. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t get into a car with a drunk driver.” Letticia Cordero stated, “She endangered the lives of children. She should have gone to jail.”