Affluenza is not a defense to a crime

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Good evening:

Now hear this: Affluenza is not a defense to a crime.

16-year-old Ethan Couch was sentenced in juvenile court by District Judge Jean Boyd to 10 years probation for a DUI in which he killed four pedestrians.

Yep, the kid pled guilty to four counts of manslaughter and didn’t have to serve any time.

How could this have possibly happened, you ask?

The defense psychologist testified that the kid was suffering from affluenza and did not deserve to go to jail because he grew up in a home where his rich parents spent their time arguing with each other eventually leading to a divorce instead of paying attention to him.

Don’t feel bad, if you are not familiar with this dreadful mental disease or defect.

Ramit Plushnick-Masti of the Associated Press interviewed Dr. Gary Buffone, a Jacksonville, Fla., psychologist who does family wealth advising to find out what it means.

The term “affluenza” was popularized in the late 1990s by Jessie O’Neill, the granddaughter of a past president of General Motors, when she wrote the book “The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence.” It has since been used to describe a condition in which children — generally from richer families — have a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, make excuses for poor behavior, and sometimes dabble in drugs and alcohol.

The rich sure have it rough, don’t they?

Reminds me of a line by Martin Mull,

Sometimes I get so damn mad when I go home that I go outside and throw my drink across the lawn.

What sort of sentence do you think a black kid from a poor family would have received, if his parents argued and divorced instead of paying attention to him?

Yeah, I know. It’s a rhetorical question.

And District Judge Jean Boyd ain’t fit to wear the black robe.


We depend on reader support and we desperately need your help now.

I hate to beg but have no choice. We cannot pay our rent and are on the verge of being homeless and losing this website.

This is our 4th article today and 795th post in two years. Think about how much time and effort that involves.

Writing articles and maintaining this site requires many hours of work every day and we rarely miss a day, including weekends. Sometimes we publish several articles per day.

And that is not all that we do. For example, we get about 1,000 comments per day of spam. I have to review each comment before deleting it because occasionally legitimate comments from our readers are mistakenly diverted into the spam folder. You would not believe some of the filth I have to wade through. One person actually expressed regret that Crane and I were not killed by a tornado that barely missed us. Many are celebrating our financial situation.

Takes a lot of commitment to persevere in the face of such hatred. Please never forget what we risk by doing this work for you.

If you value the unique mix of news and commentary you find here, please make a donation.

Click the yellow donation button in the upper right hand corner of this page. You can choose to make a single donation via Paypal or a recurring monthly payment.

We really are on the edge of losing this site. Please keep the donations coming or we won’t be around to cover the Jordan Davis trial that begins February 3rd.

The situation really is that serious.



19 Responses to Affluenza is not a defense to a crime

  1. Simranjeet Singh says:

    Every country has loop holes in laws which are available only to the elites. See for example India. If a rich kid kills poor children on a road in rash and negligent driving accident, they simply buy all the witnesses and pay the family a few hundred thousand and get away with their crime. Criminal lawyers at their best. And what does prosecution do? Take government salary and keep mum because they cant do anything.
    Thats law
    (Simranjeet Law Associates, Law Firm in Chandigarh)

  2. lurker says:

    I love this part: “It has since been used to describe a condition in which children — generally from richer families — have a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, make excuses for poor behavior, and sometimes dabble in drugs and alcohol.”

    Isn’t that exactly what some folks claim is the problem with young black youth? Just sayin’.

    • Two sides to a story says:

      Exactly. But money and light skin makes these kids “realer.”

    • crazy1946 says:

      lurker, Now you fail to realize that a black child walking in the rain carrying a dangerous bottle of iced tea and a loaded package of Skittles is cause for tremendous fear. However a white child driving a high powered auto at a high rate of speed on a city street is no cause for fear… See you just need to place it in the right perspective to understand why the white kid walks and the black kid is buried….

  3. bettykath says:

    I seem to recall that juveniles tried in the juvenile court cannot be sentenced to a jail term that goes beyond their 18th birthday. If this is true, perhaps the judge did society a favor by giving him 10 years probation, whereby if he violates the probation within the 10 years he goes to jail for the balance of those years. It is not clear that he goes to the rehab spa. It is the detention system that decides, not daddy.

    • Two sides to a story says:

      There was a case in a rural town I lived in in which a kid killed two of three passengers and seriously injured a third in a daytime reckless driving incident. His sibling was also a passenger and survived .

      The kid may have done some time in a juvenile facility until the case was sorted, but when he got out a few months later, he was also placed on a very long probation, had his drivers license suspended for a very long time, had oodles of community service hours which he had to report to on his bicycle, and was also treated as a pariah in the community, which is important because in small town you can’t blend in unnoticed as you can in a city. And his parents weren’t rich and influential and the kid probably had a public defender (not sure).

      So I think it’s not that unusual for juveniles to be handled a bit differently, however, what is disgusting about this case is what the defense psychologist said. I call bullshit.

      I don’t think proper justice always means jail time. Many offenders can be properly handled on house arrest with long probations.

    • Juvenile court can extend jurisdiction to age 21, so long as the order is entered before the kid’s 18th birthday and there is a specific reason to do so. For example, treatment may be available in a juvenile setting, but not for adult offenders.

      The court automatically loses jurisdiction over the kid when the kid turns 18, unless jurisdiction has been extended.

    • gblock says:

      I think in California a defendant could be sentenced to a term that goes to age 25 for the most serious crimes (like murder) for crimes committed before age 18. I’m not sure of the specifics.

      Some of the concepts of juvenile justice seem to have things backwards in that a 12-year-old, for instance, can get a much longer maximum sentence than a 17-year-old for a similar crime.

  4. Malisha says:

    Just for curiosity’s sake: How rich would a person have to be to kill Fogen, Junyer and Papa-Peruvian?

  5. Malisha says:

    Affluenza. So let me get this straight. If your parents are so rich they ignore you, you’re to be pitied so much that you do not have to pay the penalty for killing four people? OK…but let me ask this:

    1. Can poor people ignore their children enough to insulate them from sentencing in case they kill four people?

    2. Are the wealthy ignoring parents then liable in a wrongful death suit to the four decedents’ families, since they produced a dangerous situation by ignoring their son so much he had to kill folks?

    3. There’s a guy in a federal prison in NY awaiting trial for killing only two people. If his parents are half as rich as the defendant in this case’s parents were, can he get off too?

  6. Ben Franklin says:

    Fred…sorry to post out of place…but a lot is stirring over at the Maura Murray blog.

    Renner has a purported photograph of Maura Murray….new life. Family helped her hide is the thought. Actually wanted to obstruct the case…is the thought.

    One disconnect….”White Wash” is being called obstructionist…

  7. colin black says:

    I suffered from the opposite affliction as a child poverty striking .

    O, T.

    Its 5 , 30 AM UK Time .

    I an my Better Half are to Wed at 2pm 8 an a half hours I

    After a 19 year engagement She inferred I was procrastinating so I got down one knee.

    13 has always been our an my lucky number an Fri the 13th also.

    So In the birth place of Charles Dickens the City at least.
    On the last 13 In the year 2013

    With 12 days till Christmas hopefully my true love will say to me.

    I do with two golden rings five tins an things an a cat as a best man Toerag an a couple of Magpies singing

    An a part in the rige of my hair

    My friend the Jeweller whom was brutally assaulted an robbed In her shop 6 mnths ago Sandra Goldman Is to be my witness an we are to be married in Goldsmith Avenue .

    Cheers to you all next time I post I will be spoken for sorry girls.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: