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The Judge's Decision

December 18, 2013 - Al Stephenson
The case came from the state of Texas where lawbreakers normally face the stiffest of sentences. This one was an exception however, and one that tends to boggle the mind.

By now I am sure you heard about the 16-year-old youth that killed four people and injured nine others in a drunk driving accident. If not, let's review the facts. Ethan Couch stole beer from a local Wal-Mart and proceeded to get drunk. He then drove a large pickup truck, with friends piled in the back, 70 miles per hour down a road before crashing into a group of people. He fled the scene before being caught by police. His blood alcohol content was 3 times the legal limit.

In juvenile court, he pled guilty to various charges including vehicular manslaughter. In the sentencing phase of the case, his lawyers prepared documents that were intended to convince the judge to be lenient on the young man. At the heart of this was the term "affluenza" which translated means that Couch should not be held accountable for his actions because his rich parents did not provide the proper parenting skills. They did not let him know that he could be held accountable for his actions.

Prosecutors argued that 20 years in jail would be an appropriate punishment for someone who caused the death of four people.

Judge Jean Boyd apparently decided in the favor of the defense team. She proceeded to give Couch ten years of probation and a stay at an exclusive California drug rehabilitation facility that costs $450,000 a year. Among other things that this facility offers is therapy with horses and massages.

The public outcry over the judge's decision was immediate. I am so shocked by this case that I don't even know where to start. Stealing, drinking illegally, driving drunk, killing people with your speeding vehicle and fleeing the scene of the accident translates to probation and a little rehab? My goodness what is the world coming to!

The view from my seat suggests that we haven't heard the last from this case. More punishment may yet come down - for Couch, his parents and the Judge - but for now let me say this. The concept of affluenza makes me sick!


Article Comments

Dec-21-13 10:41 AM

I read a book about 20 years ago and this is a prime example of what the book speaks about. It's "The Death of Common Sense", by Philip K. Howard.


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