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Dr. Boyce: Rich, White Kids Have “Affluenza,” Poor, Black Kids Go to Prison


by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Last night, I made what might be one of my most emotional appearances ever on CNN’s AC360.  I’ve appeared on Anderson Cooper’s show more times than I can remember, but this was an appearance that I will never forget.

The situation revolved around a discussion of “Affluenza,” a (fictitious) condition in which a person’s wealth makes them incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions.   The defense was used in the case of 16-year old Ethan Couch, who got drunk, got behind the wheel, and proceeded to kιll four people.  He also paralyzed one of his friends, who was riding in the back of the truck.

Couch had a blοod alcοhol level that was three times the legal limit when he kιlled those people that night.  For some reason, Judge Jean Boyd bought the Affluenza defense (which is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association), and gave Couch 10 years probation right after the perpetrator had delivered the deαth penalty four times and sentenced a 16-year old kid, Sergio Molina, to almost complete paralysis (he communicates only by blinking his eyes).

A petition has been filed on Change.org calling for Texas governor Rick Perry to remove Boyd from the bench.  I am going to sign that petition.  I also appreciate Anderson Cooper for speaking up on the injustice during multiple CNN segments and pointing out the judge’s disturbing and discriminatory history.  Judge Boyd once gave a 10-year sentence to a teen who pμnched someone who died after falling and hitting his head.

This case is even more sickening when one considers how often serious psychological problems are not taken into consideration when the cases involve poor, black or brown people.  How often do our kids commit crimes after being victims of years of abuse, neglect, hunger, miseducation and dire poverty?  When my deceased uncle/older brother figure was sent to prison, I never once heard a judge consider the fact that he suffered from severe mental illness all throughout his life.  In fact, going to prison only served to worsen his mental illness, not make it better.

The very idea that this kids’ wealth was turned into a convenient liability lies in contradiction to the fact that his wealth has always been a tremendous asset.  It’s allowed him to get whatever he wants, whenever he wants.  But when the spoiled rich kid’s actions finally catch up with him, the very thing that’s given him an advantage is suddenly considered to be a huge disadvantage.

When we spoke on the CNN segment, I thought about the individuals I know personally who received far harsher sentences for even the pettiest crimes.  I think about a friend of mine, Darrell Padgett, who received a 40 year sentence for possession of one gram of crack cocaine.  I think about the individuals I’ve seen emerge from prison with severe mental illness after years of tοrture while in state custody.  There is also the 16-year old kid, Kalief Browder, who was starved half to deαth in Rikers Island jail while being held, without charge for a crime he didn’t commit.

Mind you, not every judge is as corrupt and misguided as Boyd.  But the case struck a chord with those of us who are sick and tired of seeing our children treated like animals while wealthy children receive a slαp on the wrist for even the worst offenses.  On the Syracuse University campus (where I teach) on Friday nights, the rampant drug and alcοhol abuse will likely never receive the same police scrutiny that it might get if the offenders were African Americans in public housing.  Police are rarely going to stop and frisk a rich white kid, yet even the tiniest imperfections of black youth are scrutinized beyond comprehension.

The best way to cure Couch’s Affluenza is to subject him to a fate only slightly better than his victims.  I’m not sure I’d go as far as giving him the same deαth penalty he doled out that night during his drunken joyride, but a decade in state prison might give him just the kind of treatment he deserves for what he did to those people. Also, the deprivation of wealth and privilege might help him understand that there are indeed consequences to his actions, effectively curing him of the ailment that has left him so “disadvantaged.”

This case wasn’t just sad for the families of the victims, it was sad for all of us.  It also shows that the entire criminal justice system itself suffers from a severe case of Affluenza:  Justice for the white and wealthy is both separate and unequal, especially in the state of Texas.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the author of the lecture series, “The 8 Principles of Black Male Empowerment.”  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

19 Responses to Dr. Boyce: Rich, White Kids Have “Affluenza,” Poor, Black Kids Go to Prison

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  3. Investissement Bourse

    April 21, 2014 at 3:23 am

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  4. Elizabeth

    January 2, 2014 at 10:10 am

    And because poor African-Americans know this they need to avoid criminal activity, stay in school and save their money. We know there is a trap for our children, so, instead of talking the problems to death, we need to act. Begin with women who bring children into the world that they cannot afford dooming them to the public welfare system and worse.

    Most teen African-Americans boys commit crime trying to play dad in a household (getting money for the single mom) or just trying to get food for themselves and their siblings.

    Stop talking about the issues and start correcting them…start with (the FACE in the mirror). Are you helping a child or hurting a child by your poor decisions and actions?

  5. wanda

    December 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    You’re speaking the TRUTH Dr. Boyce. I saw the “rehab” facility they’ve sentenced this boy to on television and it looks more like a spa, than rehabilitation center. This whole thing is just laughable and a pathetic miscarriage of justice. Agreed, a good dose of reality (namely prison) would have permanently cured this youngster of any and all traces of the so called afluenza. And while they were at it, if it was possible, charge the judge with fraud and have her tossed in for five

    • s'ann

      December 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      @Wanda, miscarriage of justice is the conviction of innocent people.

  6. Aneejii Rose

    December 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I got one name that these white racist judges need to NEVA FORGET..BRIAN NICHOLS/ATLANTA,GA..yeah we know that whites feel protected by guns and this retard in tha previous comment talkin bout his military training..Truth Is..White boy..Our creator is what protects us ultimately and U will probably die from one of the many diseases that europeans brought 2 this country or created since they been here or ypu will be a victim of ur own sick racist, rational when a krazy ass white kid who got access to tha same guns U got just shoots U while on a rampage frpm never having to do REAL jailtime because he was white, and they always go krazy in their own neighborhoods, kill their own families, or just kill whoevas around them…normally tha same jury of ppl who would have set them free because of their color..Its called Irony.. karma…Thats a nickname for the black and brown ppls protection Thats why tha Creator got white ppl going 2 clinics to reproduce..And I dont mix my bloodline with nothin that aint black or brown..I refuse to help ur race multiply when yall consistantly tryin to kill off mine by sending our men to prison…I dont even donate blood unless its to my own..!!..TFU TALKIN BOUT!!!

    • John Smith

      December 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      Aneejii, nice hood speak. I didn’t understand most of it but you represent the younger black demographic well, a true testimony to your race. I am a quarter Cherokee btw. I have never asked for a handout nor complained about what happened to my ancestors. It is history. But since your welfare collecting race loves to play the poor me card I suggest you pack it up and head on over to Africa. You are likely going to be or are currently an enormous burden on the tax and welfare system. Just like your posterboy, Nichols was it, Rapist piece of garbage he is. Bet after all that lovin from Bubba, he farts tuba like at this point. He is in the welfare system as well. Nice example. Find some new role models. Your best bet, go forth, get an education, become a lawyer then a judge and CHANGE things. But see, that is unlikely to happen because learning requires books and like Chris Rock says, ‘White folks, hide your money in books because books are kryptonite to black folks.’ And I wouldn’t want your blood…either AIDS infested or carrying sickle cell. No thanks. This reverse *** web site is garbage. I have wasted enough of my time here. JS Out.

      • Sargento

        December 16, 2013 at 8:53 am

        First of all, I know you are not part Cherokee, you are 100% good old white boy. Secondly, you don’t have to beg for a handout, it is given to you automatically, because of your birth-right. Thirdly, I was born in Africa and Africa is much more beautiful than the U.S., and if you Europeans left Africa, we could go back and live in peace, because we would be able to successfully live on the land without paying a lot of money just to survive. Just in case you did not know, African Citizens make less money than European foreigners and yet, African Citizens have to pay more for the basic housing, clothing and food, and on top of that, the only people getting welfare are your Europeans, I know that I lived there. Fourth point, you don’t know who represents the younger black generation. You are too busy looking in the inner city. There are numerous blacks, who are joining the military and fighting for this country, who does not care for them, and they are getting a college education making something of themselves. What you are doing right now is called Stereotyping, which means assigning a negative images to a group of people. Most racist degrade and dehumanize another group of people to give themselves power. And if you were part Cherokee, you will know for a fact that most of your people are controlled by Alcohol and drugs, and that makes your population shrink. Lucky for you, you are doing something about it, by educating your people about it, and not blaming another minority group for you problem.

  7. John S.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Well said, John Smith. Not sure what your “disparity” comment was, but I agree with the rest.

    The justice hierarchy goes like this: Wealthy whites. Any other wealthy group. Middle class whites. Animals. Everybody else.

  8. Jaap Verduijn

    December 15, 2013 at 11:29 am

    The verdict, although insane, is typically American. On a totally different note: why are all the ****s blanking out so many strictly normal words?

  9. Marsha smith

    December 15, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I think if it were not a black and white issue lets ask the judge what she would have done to a black kid who came from the prijects

    • John Smith

      December 15, 2013 at 10:06 am

      Justice is a challenging thing. Look at race/crime statistics and pose the question. Could a racial disparity exist? Perhaps. Perhaps. Thing is, The violent, ILLEGAL gun toting inner city gangs committing violent acts aren’t generally comprised of white members. My comment still applies: Quit living up to the stereotypes. And quit crying oppression. There are African immigrants who come here and become educated productive people. Black kids in the US have that same opportunity. They have entitlement issues also. The opprression an African immigrant has known is far greater than any American kid has ever known. Oppression is no excuse regardless. Rise above it.

  10. Misty

    December 15, 2013 at 6:17 am

    Hey John Smith, go out do with your glock what you want to do. It’s legal in america.

  11. John Smith

    December 14, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    This is ********. This kid deserves jail to be sure but this isn’t a race thing. And hoodrat asshat above talking about the knockout game. You are a coward. You step to my face and try that knockout **** and I will show you the affluent white guy version: It packs a punch, says glock on the side, and is legally in a shoulder holster on my person whenever I am in public. Game on *****.

    • Namaste

      December 14, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      John Smith. Nobody is afraid of your or your guns. Black people have guns too ahole and they also know how to use them. The point of the discussion is that white people are never punished on the same scale as blacks for similar crimes. And if white people weren’t so busy doing dirt to other races of people, you wouldn’t have to run around paranoid that somebody may seek to knock your a&& out. Now go away.

      • John Smith

        December 14, 2013 at 9:29 pm

        The notion that this sensationalist nonsense perpetrates was the beginning of my issue with this post. This kid regardless of color deserves jail. PERIOD. The knockout game got my ire up. Regardless here are a few white guys that didn’t get off so well: Goetz, (A good guy vigilante who took matters into his own hands, more should) Gein, Hinkley Jr., Manson, McVey,(Executed), the list goes on so to say that this is a disparity is BS. Here in town over the last 12 months there has been a rash of wannabe thug crews ALL black and brown or a combination of roaming the transit system and just basically terrorizing people. You want equal justice? Stop fitting the mold as a race. You have and can use guns? Great. I’ll stand off any day against a wannabe gangster, gun held sideways, pants around his ankles. I am decorated military retired. I spent entire WEEKS on firing ranges. To have conceal, I had to cluster 3 rounds at 25 feet in center mass. I assure you I will have the upper hand in that standoff. I’m not paranoid, I’m protected.

  12. dedtria

    December 14, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    our black youth have to stop commiting crimes that way they won’t be in a situation like they are in I admit punishment for blacks are worse than whites but if you live right stop robbing and stealing you won’t be in that situation

  13. EL

    December 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    A pale justice in a black robe only in Amerikkka the GREAT SATAN!