Affluenza

Affluenza: NOUN: A psychological malaise supposedly affecting wealthy young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, and a sense of isolation.

Believe it or not I actually found the definition for that word in the Oxford American Dictionary. While I don’t want to have a lack of motivation or feelings of guilt I would love to have to have the wealth that comes with affluenza and I know many of you feel the same way. I know we have all said that those with money can get away with murder and in this case it appears that someone essentially has. While Ethan Couch didn’t walk up and actually kill someone in the traditional sense of the word murder he did kill 4 people and is getting away with it. His lawyer argued that he suffers from Affluenza and instead of going to jail he needed to be treated in rehab and probation. Now I have a LOT to say about this case. But first lets take a look at the life of Ethan Couch and what led up to the day he killed 4 innocent people.

Ethan Couch was born April 11, 1997 to Fred Couch who owns a sheet metal company in Fort Worth Texas that turns over $15 Million a year and his mother is Tonya Couch. As of 2007 the two are no longer married. Now the family as a whole are no strangers to law breaking. Fred Couch has been charged with assault, theft by check and criminal mischief. His mother Tonya had to pay a $500 fine and serve 6month community supervision for reckless driving, but like their son they both avoided jail. Prior to the incident that led to the demise of 4 people Ethan was cited for “minor in consumption of alcohol” and possession of alcohol in February of 2013. He was sentenced to 1yr probation, 12hrs of community service, and had to go to an alcohol awareness class (a lot of good any of this did).

Just 4 months later on June 15, 2013 Ethan stole 2 cases of beer from a Walmart store and drove with 7 passengers in his fathers F-350. About an hour after he stole the beer he was speeding (70 in a 40) down the road and swerved off the road into a stalled vehicle that belonged to Breanna Mitchell. Her vehicle then hit Minister Brian Jenning’s vehicle who was there to help Breanna fix her car. The minister’s car then hit an oncoming Volkswagen Beetle. Also with Minister Jennings was Hollie Boyles and her daughter Shelby who lived nearby that came by to help out. Jenning’s had two kids in his car. After the F-350 hit Breanna’s car and caused that chain reaction, it flipped over and hit a tree. None of the 8 passengers were wearing seatbelts. 

Breanna Mitchell (24), Shelby Boyles (21), Hollie Boyles (52), and Brian Jennings (43) all died as a result of the accident caused by Ethan Couch that night. The passengers in the Volkswagen Beetle, Brian’s 2 children, and all 8 passengers in the F-350 survived. Tho one of the passengers in the truck was in the bed of the truck at the time of the accident and is still in the hospital suffering from a traumatic brain injury and may never recover from his injuries.

Three hours after the incident Ethan’s blood alcohol level was .24 and there was Valium in his system. Now when it came time to go to court Ethan wasn’t sentenced to jail time. The defense hired a psychologist who said that he suffered from affluenza and he didn’t understand the con
sequences of his actions because of the life he grew up in. He was raised believing that money could get him out of legal issues. He was raised with a silver spoon in his mouth and his parents coddled him. The judge bought that mumbo jumbo and felt that private rehabilitation would better suit Ethan over anything in the
over crowded state facilities and sentenced him to a year in rehab and 10years probation. 

Now here is where the problems begin… allowing a child get away with vehicular homicide while intoxicated with a slap on the wrist shows him that money really does buy everything including a cushy rehab stay. See 10yrs ago the same judge sentenced a 16yr old who was intoxicated and killed 1 person while driving drunk to 20yrs saying that while she understood he had a sad life she hoped he would take advantage of the opportunities afforded to him during his incarceration. Now these kids were the same age, the other kid only killed 1 person and his blood alcohol level was only .11 which was less than half that of Ethan’s. Why wasn’t he given probation and rehab? He didn’t have the issues that Ethan had. He wasn’t already on probation for related offenses.

Now this doesn’t end with the fact that this kid has gotten away with murder. His family originally wanted and agreed to send him to a private rehab facility that would cost $500,000 a year. But instead Ethan is at a state run hospital that cost $715/day which is $21,450 a month and his parents are only required to pay $1,170 of that. The rest of his stay is covered by the tax payers. So are there really any lessons learned? His parents have gotten away with their crimes without having to have any real judgement against them and now their son is getting the same treatment. After being on probation for alcohol related crimes he violates his probation and kills 4 people in the process and gets to stay in rehab on the tax payers dime while his parents don’t even have to pay for it. There’s a reason this family suffers from Affluenza and its because the system allows them to skirt responsibility. No one is holding any of them accountable for their actions and everyone lets them out with a slap on the wrist. 

The families of the victims are suing the Couch family and their business. Personally I hope they take them for every single penny they have. I hope the Couch family has to live like the rest of us and for once has to take responsibility for their actions. This will not be the last time their son will be in the news. Rehab will not cure him and seeing has he couldn’t even make it the full year on probation, I am sure he won’t last the full 10 before he does something else. I just hope that next time someone else doesn’t lose their life for his stupid mistakes.

You will notice that I did not include pictures of the offender this time. There are more pictures of him floating around on the internet than there are of the victims so I wanted to highlight them in this article.

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