You know, I think it is appalling when that there is such a huge gap between the wealthy and the poor in this country. And depending on which side you find yourself on, you can find that your treatment varies considerably. And you know what? It sucks.

Just today, I found this article about a man who molested his children and was convicted of it. How much jail time is he serving? None, actually. Why, you may be screaming at your computer? Look:

A Delaware man convicted of raping his three-year-old daughter only faced probation after a state Superior Court judge ruled he “will not fare well” in prison.

In her decision, Judge Jan Jurden suggested Robert H. Richards IV would benefit more from treatment. Richards, who was charged with fourth-degree rape in 2009, is an unemployed heir living off his trust fund. The light sentence has only became public as the result of a subsequent lawsuit filed by his ex-wife, which charges that he penetrated his daughter with his fingers while masturbating, and subsequently assaulted his son as well.

Richards is the great grandson of du Pont family patriarch Irenee du Pont, a chemical baron.

Okay, first off, nobody is supposed to fare well in jail. It’s meant to be miserable on purpose. The whole point is that people will be persuaded not to commit crimes after serving a prison sentence. And sending this guy to a sex offenders rehab program isn’t going to change him or protect his and other people’s children, which is what child molestation laws are for. Instead, Mr. Richards has been taught that with money and a high-powered legal team, you can get away with the worst and get a slap on the wrist. And I wonder, would the judge give this same sort of sentence to another man? One that might be middle class or lower? Maybe even had a public defense lawyer? I seriously doubt it.

This comes only a few months after the case of the “affluenza teenager”, a teenager named Ethan Couch who was driving drunk and killed four people. Normally you’d expect jail time for this example of vehicular manslaughter, but the psychologist called by the defense said that Couch had been so coddled and spoiled by his parents that it had led to irresponsibility, a pseud0-condition of pop psychology known as affluenza. Couch is being ordered to go to a $450K/year rehab facility to attend alcohol and drug rehab and to remain on probation for the foreseeable future.

Maybe I’m no lawyer, but I know there are plenty of kids who are probably just as coddled or not coddled at all and who don’t go doing what Couch did. And there are plenty of people across the nation who have been Couch’s age and in similar situations, or have been charged with crimes of greater or lesser nature. They’ve been given lengthy prison sentences. Do they get psychologists saying that they have conditions that were directly related to the actions they undertook? I don’t think so.

And you know what the biggest difference between Couch and these teens I just mentioned? The latter group are often from poorer backgrounds and are often black, which in our fractured legal system puts them at a greater disadvantage.

Now contrast this with the case of Shanesha Taylor, a homeless mother who is facing jail time for leaving her children in her car while going to a job interview:

A homeless single mother in Arizona who struggled to make ends meet is in jail after she allegedly left her children in her car while she went on a job interview.

Shanesha Taylor was arrested on felony child abuse charges after Scottsdale police discovered her two kids, aged 2 years old and 6 months old, in a locked car.

Scottsdale police responded after a witness reported a child crying from inside a Dodge Durango parked at an office complex on March 20. Police said that two children were left alone in the car with the engine off and the windows slightly cracked. The car was left parked in the sun and all the doors were closed.

AZFamily reports that the kids had already been in the car for 30 minutes when police arrived. Police said 35-year-old Taylor returned from her job interview about 45 minutes after officers came to the scene. She said she didn’t have anyone else to care for the kids while she was on an interview at an insurance company.

“She was upset. This is a sad situation all around. She said she was homeless. She needed the job,” Scottsdale Police Sergeant Mark Clark told KPHO. “Obviously not getting the job. So it’s just a sad situation.”

Yes, it’s a sad situation! Our system constantly rewards the rich and punishes the poor. Ms. Taylor didn’t want to leave her kids in the car, but what choice did she have? She’s living out of her car! She can’t afford childcare. Yes, what she did put her children in danger, but I bet that if she had a choice her kids would be in a preschool watched over by licensed early childhood educators while she went to that interview. Now she’s facing jail time for wanting to provide food and maybe a better shelter for her kids.

Luckily there are good people out there who are raising money for Ms. Taylor’s legal defense, and they’ve already received three times the original goal. But that doesn’t change the fact that Ms. Taylor is living in terrible conditions, that unless there’s some serious intervention her kids will most likely live in a similar situation and be told by others that if they actually applied themselves and tried to pull themselves up by their bootstraps instead of living lives of crime or mooching off the system they could live a way better life. I’m calling BS here, because it’s definitely not that simple. If that was the case, every person who watched me and my sisters growing up while our parents worked would be living in nice suburbs and sending their own kids to wonderful schools with college opportunities (last I checked, that wasn’t the case).

I seriously hope that one of Ms. Taylor’s supporters gives her a job after she is hopefully exonerated, because otherwise she’ll be back to where she started. And I hope the whole nation takes a look at our legal system, because as these and so many other cases have pointed out, our legal system is broken. People who should go to jail are set free or get very light sentences while those who just need a helping hand are sent to jail and vilified before they even get there.

This is what we need to do to our justice system.

This isn’t America. It shouldn’t be America. And while it is America, we can’t call this nation a true land of opportunity or equality. So what we need to do is change it. Make the laws apply to everyone, and not cut deals or give rulings that reward people who are likely to re-offend. Also, childcare should not be so expensive! There has to be options for women like Ms. Taylor, and the lack of options is disturbing, because it led directly to this situation.

And unless we act, things will never change.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s