In December 2013, a 16-year-old from north Texas named Ethan Couch made international headlines after he was sentenced to 10 years’ probation for killing four people while driving drunk. The controversy in the case initially stemmed from the fact that the judge ruled Ethan should be tried as a juvenile. Adding to the public’s frustration, the judge ruled that because Ethan suffered from “affluenza” that he should be spared a jail or prison sentence. The judge recently ruled that taxpayers will heavily subsidize his mental treatment.
The definition of affluenza is “a psychological malaise supposedly affecting wealthy young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, and a sense of isolation” according to most dictionaries.
An addition to his probation, the judge ruled that the teen should attend a high priced rehab facility in California for alcohol abuse. His parents agreed to pay $1,200 a day for their son to attend this facility.
Recently a judge ruled that the teen should be sent to North Texas State Hospital in Vernon. The hospital’s rehab program charges $700 a day, but since it is a partially state-funded institution, Couch’s parents would only be charges $38 per day for their son’s treatment. Thanks to taxpayers, Couch’s rehab bill has been dropped from $438,000 annually to only $13,870.
Ken Webster Jr. is the executive producer of Walton & Johnson and a contributing producer to The Michael Berry Show. Follow him on Twitter @ProducerKen