A 16-year-old avoided spending time in prison for killing four people in a car accident in June after the judge bought his lawyers’ argument that he was the victim of wealth.
CBSDFW reports that Ethan Couch was sentenced in a Fort Worth, Tex. juvenile court to 10 years probation for the drunk driving crash that ended the lives of youth pastor, Brian Jennings; Hollie and Shelby Boyles; and Breanna Mitchell.
Prosecutors asked that Couch serve 20 years in prison. His blood alcohol level was .24, three times the legal limit for an adult.
Psychologist G. Dick Miller testified for the defense that Couch suffered from “affluenza,” a condition in which “his family felt that wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior and consequences,” KHOU reported.
Miller said Couch’s parents never punished him for his behavior, even when, in a separate incident, cops found him passed out in a car with a naked 14-year-old girl.
As part of his sentence, Couch will be sent to a private counseling center that costs $450,000, which will be paid for by his father.
Money and privilege has helped defendants avoid serious prison time for violent crimes before.
In a particularly clear example, cited by journalist Glenn Greenwald, hedge fund manager Martin Joel Erzinger served just 90 days in jail after driving the car that seriously injured a bicyclist and fled the scene of the accident in 2010.
The district attorney in the case charged Erzlinger with two misdemeanors instead of a felony, noting that “felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger’s profession.”
A New York Times exposé on the realities of homeless children in NYC featured a story of an 11-year-old girl living in the Auburn Family Residence homeless shelter. They describe the city-run shelter:
It is a place where mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed and small children stand guard for their single mothers outside filthy showers.
How did the NY Post heartlessly respond? By claiming that the family featured in the story "aren’t really homeless at all," because they live in a 540 square ft. shelter, and that NYC has been “too generous” for providing a place to live, even if the shelter has “mice and reports of sexual assaults and other crimes.”
The New York Post’s mentality is a perfect example of how the mainstream media contributes to the cycle of poverty, hunger and homelessness in our country. In fact there is a record high of over 1.1 million homeless school-aged children in the U.S., according to data released by the U.S. Department of Education. But if media continue to downplay this reality, it will take even longer for our country to rise above the massive income inequality that plagues the nation. How can we expect over a million children to be able to obtain a decent education —leading to decent jobs— when they are living in conditions like this?
Photo Credit: New York Times
Glenn Broadnax, a 35 year old Brooklynite, has been charged with assault after the police shot at him and hit two innocent bystanders.
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