The same Judge who gave the rich white kid afflicted with “Affluenza” a second chance at life, Judge Jean Boyd, threw the book at a poor black kid for a less serious offense.
This is like the plot of a bad crime drama. In a case filled with stereotypes, spoiled 16 year-old Ethan Couch got zero jail time upon being sentenced after he drunk-drove and ultimately killed four people (and seriously injured two others). It was determined that Couch was stricken with the b.s. affliction “affluenza,” meaning that he was simply too rich to understand the consequences of his actions because he had never been properly punished by his parents, according to his lawyer. But, with a good dose of therapy in a $450,000 private-home session and some time away from his parents, Judge Boyd ruled that Couch should become a productive member of society.
Cut to: A 14 year-old black child, two years younger than Couch, was not afforded the same leniency when Judge Boyd sentenced him to 10 years in juvenile detention for killing one person. The boy had apparently punched a man who subsequently died after his head hit the pavement hard enough to kill him.
The rulings in these two cases, when compared side-by-side, have fueled claims of a lack of punishment and a sweeping under the rug of bad behavior that is commonly afforded to the affluent, while the poor who can’t even afford legal aid get thrown in jail with what appears to be little thought.
This is not to say that the black boy should not have been given a harsh sentence. After all, he did kill a man and, yes, he should be held accountable for his actions. But so should Ethan Couch.
When it comes to living in poverty, black youths often feel like they have nowhere to turn other than to a life of crime, especially when their chances at success are often determined by folks who may also be racist, like landlords, employers, and anyone else who could otherwise help them live a halfway decent life. What else do you do when you can’t land a decent job, and therefore can’t legally take care of yourself or your family, simply because of the color of your skin? Many times, you get desperate and resort to a life of crime. To put it into perspective, 50 percent of the overall prison population of non-violent drug offenses are black prisoners.
Even more telling is a study published by The Sentencing Project, which is a group that advocates for reform for juvenile sentencing. In their study, the group points out that 97 percent of juveniles who are sentenced to life without parole in the U.S. are males, and 60 percent of those males are black.
How are we ever going to break this cycle if we keep perpetuating it? We’ve come pretty damn far lately as a society in terms of progression, which is why cases like this become so controversial and infuriating.