Woman's prison sentence reduced

Driver convicted on 3 counts of reckless homicide could get license back
September 24, 2008 5:42:58 PM PDT
Family and friends of the victims are outraged after learning Jeanette Sliwinski will be released from prison. She served three years for killing three people in a car crash at a suburban intersection. Sliwinski is set to walk out of the Dwight Correctional Facility in early October. The Skokie woman was originally sentenced to eight years, but she was given credit for time served and good behavior, leading to her early release.

Sliwinski was convicted of a class C felony. That means, barring any problem behavior, she is eligible for reduced time in jail. She apparently got the most credit available and is scheduled to be released next Thursday, which has stunned those closest to the victims.

"I think this comes as a huge shock, not only dealing with an incredibly long trial period, but also having to deal with the fact that she's being released after a mere three years in jail," said Scott Meis, Douglas Meis' brother.

Scott Meis is the brother of Douglas Meis. Douglas Meis was with friends Michael Dahlquist and John Glick on a July lunch break in 2005. Their car was hit by Sliwinski, who was going as fast as 90 mph in Skokie. The men were killed.

Sliwinski's defense team argued that she suffered from a series of mental illnesses and was trying to kill herself. Prosecutors requested more harsh charges, but last fall, a Cook County judge found Sliwinski guilty -- but mentally ill -- of three counts of reckless homicide.

With her time served awaiting trial, and good behavior in prison, Sliwinski will be released next Thursday after serving less than half of her eight year sentence.

Brandon Fowler investigated the crash.

"To me, it almost diminished the seriousness of what happened to these gentlemen. It's like their life has become insignificant," said Brandon Fowler, retired Skokie Police commander.

The victims' families and friends waited two years for the trial and settled with a penalty they thought too easy. Now they are frustrated with news of the Sliwinski's early release.

"The idea that she's going to be released in just about the same amount of time that we went to court I think is shocking to a lot of people," said Heather Whinna, victims' friend.

"We can only hope that the judicial system will look at how this was treated and not allow other families to have to go through the same thing in the future," said Scott Meis.

ABC7 unsuccessfully attempted to reach Sliwinski's family and her attorneys Thursday.

The Prison Review Board tells ABC7, as part of her one-year parole, Sliwinski is ordered to have substance abuse and mental health treatment. Her driver's license is revoked until 2010. After that, she may request a hearing to get her license back.


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