Please go to Hip Hop and Politics to read the entire piece . . . this is just an excerpt:
White and Wealthy = Free Pass (Affluenza)
David Leonard & Jlove Calderon
While the outrage over the justice system’s decision to pat little Ethan on the head, sending him to bed with no dessert is warranted, it would be a mistake to see the judge’s decision as exceptional. Each and every day, institutions and individuals make decisions with special concern for not only affluenza, but whititis the consequences of white entitlement and masculenza the ailment of male privilege as well. The lack of accountability, compared to the harsh and unequal injustice felt by youth of color, is nothing new.
One such example is the case of Andrew Klepper, a 16-year old white male from Bethesda Maryland, who in 2002 plead guilty to three felonies, including charges that he sodomized a woman with a baseball bat, held her at knifepoint and stole $2,000 dollars from her. His sentence: probation and treatment at an out-of-state facility by 2011, after multiple arrests, he was finally sent to prison for 7 years – we guess three strikes of affluenza means you are out. His parents’ ability to pay for the “treatment” and his “potential” surely led to this sentence. We must put this latest sentencing of Ethan Couch in a historical context to really understand the depth of the implications.In a society where middle-class white youth pop Adderall with great frequency, reporting this illegal usage without any fear of punishment, it is clear that affluenza is systemic.
In a society where Bill Maher and others white celebrities take to the airwaves to tout their marijuana use, where college students at historically white institutions break laws with greater frequency than attending class, it’s a mistake to limit the conversation to Mr. Couch, Dr. Miller, or Judge Boyd.
Quoted in USA Today, Daniel Filler, a law professor at Drexel University who specializes in juvenile law broke it down; “The real truth is that our criminal justice system is suffering from ‘affluenza’ because affluent people can afford better attorneys and better get better outcomes,” Filler said. Numbers don’t lie how pervasive race and class privilege operate within the criminal justice system. As noted by Vijay Prashad, in Keeping up with the Dow Joneses, almost sixty percent of juveniles detained in correction facilities are black; an additional 21 percent are Latino. In total, half of the 700,000 youth in juvenile prison are there as a result of a first offense, usually a drug or property crime. Mr. Couch killed four people, stole alcohol from WalMart, drove drunk, and injured two more people, and was neither sent to a juvenile detention facility, much less tried as an adult.