On June 15, sixteen year old Ethan Anthony Couch got blitzed off of stolen beer, jumped into his truck with a bunch of friends, and went–of course–on another “beer run.” Couch’s blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit for an adult, but that did not stop him from enjoying his comfortable 70 m.p.h. (in a 40) cruise around town. Couch veered off the road and slammed into a group of four in a driveway. His reckless disregard for safety and irresponsible actions were responsible for the untimely deaths of a youth pastor and three women as well as multiple injuries.
Ethan Couch’s defense lawyer argued that he was not responsible for his own actions because he, a child of wealthy parents, grew up with few boundaries. He was permitted to drink at a young age and to drive at thirteen. He was accustomed to spending his life being bailed out of trouble by his daddy’s money. The judge agreed with the “Affluenza Defense” and allowed the teenager to once again be bailed out with daddy’s cash. Couch was sentenced to just ten years probation in a treatment facility.
That very same judge, last year, sentenced a 14-year-old African-American boy to 10 years in a juvenile detention center because he punched a man, who hit his head on the pavement and died. He did not intend to kill the man. Like Couch, he admitted to the crime.
It is not known whether or not he was rich, but it is important to ask what influences the judge’s decisions. Why would the fourteen year old, whose crime was much less severe, receive 10 years in detention while Ethan Couch walks away virtually free?