The Affluenza Defense: All the Injustice Money Can Buy

Abby Zimet

Justice is still stalking Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old poor little rich Texan boy who got wasted on Valium and beer he stole from Walmart and plowed his daddy's pickup truck into four people, killing them all, paralyzing a friend in the truck and injuring several others, after which carnage he was "punished" by being sentenced to probation and a stay in a $500,000 a year rehab facility with yoga and equine therapy - but not a day in prison - because his rich/lousy parents never taught him about consequences. Many aren't buying his so-called Affluenza Defense (Twinkie Defense, anyone?) which is why the families of the victims have now brought mulit-million-dollar civil lawsuits against him and his family, and prosecutors are urging District Judge Jean Boyd to give him some jail time for lesser offenses (other than being a clueless rich dick) on which he's been convicted. Meanwhile, the rest of us are left wondering about a legal system in which a so-called judge or anyone else in any position of authority could possiby accept the notion that being rich gets you off scot-free from any bad behavior, no matter how egregious. Oh, wait. There were those banks....Ethan, need we add, is white. If you want to get further infuriated, listen to the "doctor" who testified for Ethan try to justify that "defense" to a wide-eyed Anderson Cooper. There's also a petition to take Judge Boyd off the bench; given that it goes to Rick Perry, good luck with that.






























































Dear Judge,

I know that Davontaye’s actions caused the deaths of four people. But please don’t give him life in prison. He suffers from Povertenza. You may not know about this condition but Povertenza is an illness that people from impoverished socio-economic backgrounds have.

Due to the inability to access quality education and employment, Davontaye’s development has been stifled. This leads to poor decision making and I would further argue that since his neighborhood sees so much death and destruction, that he may even suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in addition to Povertenza.

Judge, it is clear that Davontaye can not be held responsible for his actions. He needs rehabilitation, not prison. Prison would only worsen his mental condition.

All of these actions flow from affluenza, greed, and refusal to consider consequences. We rage about the Couch decision but ignore our greater responsibility to the world and future generations. In 1877, the Sioux chief Sitting Bull spoke of the light-skinned people who were overrunning his lands: “They make many laws which the rich may break but the poor may not, and the love of possession is a disease with them.”

That’s the real “affluenza.”


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