The rich can avoid ordinary justice

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Here’s another opportunity to shake your head in disgust at what we call our system of justice:


Ethan Couch, 16, had nearly three times the legal adult limit for alcohol in his blood when he crashed a pickup truck belonging to his father’s company. His friends had told Couch, who had also taken Valium and THC, to slow down, but he accelerated instead. Four people died and two others were injured, and police found stolen beer in the truck. It was not the first time the teen was in trouble. When he was 15, according to the online magazine Slate, police found him passed out in a pickup truck with a naked 14-year-old girl.


Couch was convicted of vehicular homicide, and the prosecutor asked for 20 years of jail time. But a Fort Worth, Texas, judge decided that Couch would serve no time in jail. He sentenced him to 10 years of probation and time in a long-term facility that costs $450,000 a year, which Couch’s wealthy parents can afford. The facility offers equine therapy and organic food choices.


Victims’ families and many others decried the sentence as more reward than punishment. Almost any other teenager in the same situation would have received hard time from almost any other court. But Couch was represented by a legal team with an unusual defense for his actions: His lawyers called it affluenza.


It seems the boy had been raised in such a permissive style by his parents, he never experienced consequences for his behavior. Couch was reared, his lawyers argued, without discipline and given whatever he wanted, including “freedoms no young person should have,” and the result was that he never learned his actions had consequences.


We can think of many instances in which young people, raised in poverty and without much parental guidance, have committed crimes and paid heavily for their actions. How successful do you think their court-appointed lawyers would be using such a defense?


It is a sad state when those with not much money are treated one way by the law, and the rich are considered to be above it.


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