If you don’t believe that there are two justice systems in America, then look no further than Texas, where an affluent white teen received only probation for killing four pedestrians while driving drunk.
A juvenile judge sentenced a 16 year old Fort Worth, Texas teen to 10 years probation after he confessed to losing control of his vehicle while driving drunk. The June 15th accident resulted in the deaths of 43-year-old Burleson youth minister; Breanna Mitchell of Lillian, 24; Shelby Boyles, 21, and her 52-year-old mother, Hollie Boyles,
Although prosecutors sought a 20 year sentence for the teen’s manslaughter conviction, his attorneys told state District Judge Jean Boyd that the teen required rehabilitation instead of imprisonment.
The prosecutor in the case alleges that the teen is being shielded because he comes from a wealthy family and is likely to commit similar crimes in the future.
“Money always seems to keep you out of trouble,” said Eric Boyles, who lost his wife due to the teen’s reckless behavior. “Ultimately today, I felt that money did prevail. If you had been any other youth, I feel like the circumstances would have been different.”
Black and less affluent teens, however, aren’t nearly as lucky when they come before the courts. In a separate case in another state, Kuntrell Jackson, who is black, was 14 years old when he took part in a robbery that ended with the death of a store clerk. Even though Jackson was not the trigger man, he was tried as an adult sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Same goes for Evan Miller, who is not black, but also not affluent. He was 14 when he was convicted of murdering a man he was attempting to rob. He was also sentenced to life without parole.
Although a Supreme Court decision making it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life without the possibility of parole makes both Jackson and Miller entitled to new sentences, the contrast between how they were sentenced and how the Texas teen was sentenced is stark. It highlights how both a judge’s discretion and mandatory minimum sentences can be problematic.
***POST CORRECTED TO CORRECT THE RACE OF EVAN MILLER
h/t: News Channel 5