The Dec. 13 Augusta Chronicle gave a stark demonstration that, in America, there is one law for the rich and another for the poor.
On Page 5A: A Texas judge sentenced 16-year-old Ethan Couch to 10 years of probation for killing four people while driving intoxicated. The prosecutor asked for 20 years in prison. Ethan’s wealthy family hired a psychologist to explain that Ethan’s actions resulted from the character challenges of being rich. Instead of prison, Ethan will go to rehab at a facility costing $450,000 a year. The judge ignored the pain and outrage his decision inflicted on the four grieving – and not wealthy – families.
On Page 1A: Superior Court Judge J. Wade Padgett sentenced 21-year-old Devonte Bogan to two years in prison for killing his girlfriend’s puppy. Devonte finished high school, had a job and had no criminal record. But his family could not afford a psychologist to explain that Devonte had lost control for one fateful minute because he was frustrated with the challenges of being poor. Instead of probation and anger-management therapy, Devonte will go to prison. Judge Padgett’s sympathy seemed to be all for the puppy.
For killing four people, Ethan is going to rehab. For killing a puppy, Devonte is going to prison. In two years, Ethan will be looking at college, maybe in the Ivy League, and perhaps a job in his daddy’s business. Let’s hope rehab teaches him to handle the hardships of wealth responsibly.
If Devonte survives prison, he’s looking at life as a convicted felon, little chance of a decent job and no pricey therapist to help him handle the pressures of poverty.
Meanwhile, we can hope Judge Padgett learns to value the lives of poor young men as much as he does puppies.
Face it, people: This is the real America.