‘Affluenza’ condition is another way to protect the wealthy

Greg Prouty, Staff Writer

If there was ever any illusion that the justice system in America treated everyone equally, the case of Ethan Couch is a grave awakening to us all.

Couch, a 16-year-old Texas teenager, born to a millionaire family, killed four people while drunk driving. Couch was driving down a rural road at 70 mph three times over the legal limit where Breanna Mitchell’s SUV had stalled.

Hollie Boyles and her daughter Shelby, who lived nearby, had come out to help her, as had a passing youth minister Brian Jennings.  Couch’s truck swerved off the road and plowed into the group, killing all of them.  All of the passengers of Couch’s truck survived, although two of them were seriously injured, one of them paralyzed for life.

During his trial, Dr. G. Dick Miller, a psychologist hired as an expert on the defense, testified that the teen had suffered from ‘affluenza’ a made up condition meaning that because the teen had grown up so rich and privileged, he was not aware of the consequences of his actions.  As a result, Judge Jean Boyd sentenced him to ten years probation, and instead of being sent to prison, or a juvenile detention facility, he would go to an expensive rehabilitation center near Newport Beach, Calif.  The teen will be attending a treatment program that includes horse riding, cooking classes, yoga and massage therapy at the cost of $450,000 a year.

“Its disgusting… the psychologist should be ashamed,” said Dr. Drew Pinsky an addiction medicine specialist and radio personality.

What this is all saying is that there is a different standard of justice for rich people. This same Judge, Jean Boyd sentenced a 14-year-old black teenager to 10 years in prison for punching another teen, whose head hit a sidewalk and died.

You wouldn’t expect to hear about how that poor kid’s environment affected his actions, with a mother addicted to crack, with a father in prison, or a neighborhood known for crime.

How convenient that this boy’s wealth, an advantage that has put him ahead of everyone else in his life, is suddenly a disadvantage when he is convicted for four counts of vehicular manslaughter.

Not only does this blatant disregard for justice demean the entire justice system by affording his bogus ‘I’m so rich that I didn’t know better’ defense any legitimacy, it also sends a direct insult to the majority of responsible Americans who are in fact held accountable for their actions.

The ‘affluenza’ condition should be an explanation for his actions, not a justification.  This spoiled brat doesn’t need a day spa for treatment; he needs to feel real punishment.

The affluent 1 percent of this country has drawn blood and while it may have gone unpunished, it has not gone unnoticed.