Outrage sparked on the internet after 16-year old Ethan Couch was given a very lenient sentence in relation to a drunk driving incident where the teen killed four pedestrians, and rightfully so. The North Texas teen comes from a rich family, and his defense team was successfully able to use his family’s wealth to save him from a 20-year prison sentence.
This case is just another example that if one is rich enough, laws and justice will favor he or she almost every time.
Instead of the deserved prison term, the teen only got 10-years of probation and was ordered to attend a plush rehabilitation center in California. No community service or anything. The defense used an undiagnosable pseudo-condition called “affluenza” to sway state District Judge Jean Boyd from giving the sought-after maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
“Affluenza” is when a kid from a rich family is brought up with “a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, [and] make excuses for poor behavior.” Essentially, they believe they can do what they want without consequence because they are rich, a common disease of the wealthy.
Even though the defense somehow successfully implemented this bogus argument, many experts say that “affluenza” is not a “recognized diagnosis,” but a mere copout to “justify bad behavior.”
Jacksonville-based psychologist Dr. Gary Buffone condemned the defense’s argument using one candid term. “The simple term would be spoiled brat,” said Buffone.
“Essentially what [the judge] has done is slapped this child on the wrist for what is obviously a very serious offense which he would be responsible for in any other situation,” Buffone continued. “The defense is laughable, the disposition is horrifying … not only haven’t the parents set any consequences, but it’s being reinforced by the judge’s actions.”
This case is another instance of America class segregation. Other experts have astutely brought up the argument that if it were a poor black kid on the stand instead of a rich, white one, the sentence would be drastically different.
“We are setting a double standard for the rich and poor,” said psychologist Dr. Suniya Luthar. “”Families that have money … can drink and drive.”
This type of gross injustice is nothing new, unfortunately. It is just a microcosmic example of the wealthy’s infection of our judiciary and legislature. Similar to Couch’s situation, large corporations can buy their way out of any amount of trouble. After the BP oil spill in 2010, no one in the high ranks of the company was ever thrown in jail after an accident that killed 11 people.
The same goes with the Great Recession beginning in 2008. Millions of dollars lost, home foreclosures, and a shattered economy and no one in charge was ever arrested and thrown in jail. America is a plutocratic society, and it’s money that will always buy freedom for these criminals.