Did you rape your three year-old daughter, and continue to do so for several years, only to finally get caught? Are you afraid of going to prison and having to mix and mingle with the general populous? Do you happen to hail from one of the wealthiest families in the country and happen to be white? Well, have I got a deal for you! You too can get the elusive “Get Out of Jail Free” card and bypass prison altogether — or so a judge recently ruled.
Judge Jan Jurden originally sentenced Robert H. Richards IV to eight years in prison, but later commuted his sentence to treatment and probation. Why the change of heart? Because as a white, wealthy, child-molesting male, he simply “would not fare well in Level 5 setting.”
The ruling was a surprise for both the prosecution and the defense as they judge is known for her notoriously tough sentences.
Despite the fact that USA Today notes that Richards is a towering 6-feet-4 inches and at least 250 pounds, the judge felt as though Richards would be a target for his crimes, his race, and his wealth. I’m glad that the criminal justice system is finally concerned with inmates “faring well” in captivity.
Other than missing his 5,800 square foot mansion in Greenville, Delaware what does Mr. Richards have to fear?
Having worked for the ACLU as a legal-intake intern, I have read far too many terrible tales of neglect, unsafe conditions, and abuse in prison settings. These heartbreaking narratives were incredibly moving and powerful and thanks to the sad state of affairs of our criminal justice jurisprudence, we were often unable to do anything for these individuals. Access to food, toilets, showers, sunlight, and other human contact are items that can be arbitrarily taken away from you without second thought.
Lawmakers are unwilling to soften their hardline stances, society is unwilling to challenge our prison-industrial complex, and everyone seems willing to embrace the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.
Great Britain recently banned books for all prisoners (who needs education, y’know?), sexual assault rates in prison are still continuing to rise for minority populations in prison, solitary confinement has become the de facto choice of punishment for prisoners, and the private prison industry still reigns as the model of choice for states throughout the country.
But hey, thanks to the ruling of Judge Jurden, we will have one less prisoner in the system and can rest easy knowing that a convicted child molester will not be spending our tax dollars in prison. At least there’s that.
This ruling illustrated a few things:
- 1. Prisons are so unsafe that they should be out rightly avoided by even those the size of running backs.
- 2. If you’re wealthy, you’re a target in prison.
- 3. If you’re white, you’re a target in prison.
The ruling institutionalizes the notion that prisons are not a place for the wealthy or white — they should be places for the poor and for people of color. As one columnist noted, “We cannot possibly place a rich white man in a room with those animals.”
Guys, rich people have it hard too. They are stalked by paparazzi, live in homes too large to manage, and suffer from affluenza and a host of other problems I can neither relate to nor care to explore. Now it seems that they are so detached from the general population that they can’t be placed in gen-pop, either.
Because truly, everyone is equal in the eyes of the law — except for those who are more equal (or, you know, richer) than others.