The young Texas boy who was given probation for killing four pedestrians and critically injuring two of his companions while driving drunk is less the exception than you may think. Certainly, his defense of pleading guilty to being a spoiled brat is unique. But the end result was not. Instead of going to jail, the Texas youth will be forced to suffer the indignity of attending a $450,000/year California treatment program complete with martial arts lessons and private chef. The horror!
Fact is, the rich and the privileged have always received special treatment.
Likely, most of us can recall at least one incident when someone in our school or community was treated differently because his or her family had money or knew the “right” people. It might have been an athlete before a big game. It might have been the child of a community leader who got a grade they hadn’t earned. Those kinds of things are bad enough. But when they extend to our justice system?…
There are people from poor communities who received life sentences for petty, non-violent crimes while the Wall Street goons who stole trillions from homeowners and investors received six and seven figure bonuses. (Most have not even faced charges, and likely never will.) While the poor rot in prison after being caught with crack cocaine, the rich caught snorting powder cocaine are released with a fine and probation…or sentenced to a spa-like treatment center. Many of the wealthy have even gotten away with murder thanks to their highly-paid “dream” teams of attorneys and consultants.
In some cases, the perps don’t even have to be rich to receive special treatment. After finally being indicted for shooting an unarmed boy, George Zimmerman was allowed to get away with murder thanks to his team of lawyers paid for by the gun lobby.
Of course, the same kind of special treatment extends to large corporations.
After it was determined that a Koch refinery carelessly spilled aviation fuel into the ground water and tried to cover it up, the company was fined…wait for it…a sum equal to less than one day’s net profit from the refinery. And, while BP was forced to pay more than $42 billion for the Gulf oil disaster, a US district court ruled that the company originally responsible for the leak and ensuing explosion, Halliburton, will not have to share in the costs. (It wouldn’t have anything to do with Halliburton’s connection to former V.P. Richard “The Dick” Cheney, would it?)
I guess money and influence can buy happiness, after all. Obviously, they can buy special treatment.