By Richard B. Muhammad

Wealth can be bad for your health. Having too much money can leave you unable to function in society–and can get you off when you kill and injure people while driving drunk.

A Texas judge has decided 16-year-old Ethan Couch, who plowed into four pedestrians killing them after losing control of his father’s Ford F-350 pickup, deserves probation and time in a behavioral rehab center. Two other people were injured by Ethan–one will never walk again and the other suffered broken bones and serious injuries. Little Ethan’s blood alcohol limit was three times the legal limit and he and pals in dad’s truck were caught on video stealing a couple cases of beer. Ethan also had a little Valium in his system, authorities say.

But the son of wealthy parents had a defense: “Affluenza.” This dubious disease gives you a sense that parental affluence will allow you to get away with anything–seems like the boy was never given any boundaries.


Ethan’s lawyers and their experts said he had suffered through his rich parents’ tough divorce and apparently never fully learned to be sorry or relate to people. Kinda like comic character Richie Rich, except the poor little rich boy never took any lives.

But Ethan was such a spoiled brat, they argued, he really wasn’t fully responsible for his lack of judgment and wiping four people off the planet for no reason. Instead of getting 20 years for killing people, little Ethan got a decade on probation and a two-year stint in a $450,000-a-year California program his parents will pay for.

Isn’t it amazing that circumstance, parents, environment and lifestyle can be seen as mitigating factors for guilt, innocence, and levels of punishment for crime? It certainly doesn’t matter when Day Day sprays the block and little Shalonda gets hit or killed by a stray bullet. Day Day is a monster, an urban terrorist, a menace to society, an incorrigible killer and waste of life. Lock him up, throw away the key and keep everybody safe. But Day Day is poor and Black; Ethan is rich and White.

Any argument that connects crime to circumstance and race is condemned as excuse-making. But research says something else: “Starting from the 1970s, studies in the U.S. pointed more and more at the link between unemployment, poverty and crime. After that other connections with income level, time spent at school, quality of neighborhood and education were revealed as well,” according to an article published at

“But most importantly, what reveals the unmistakable connection between poverty and crime is that they’re both geographically concentrated–in a strikingly consistent way. In other words, where you find poverty is also where you find crime. Of course this doesn’t include ‘softer’ crimes such as corruption which causes massive damage to people’s lives but in a more indirect type of violence.”

So Day Day who grew up angry without his dad (who was serving time in jail for selling crack cocaine) and never had enough to eat, never had a stable place to live, didn’t learn to read and joined a so-called gang to survive in the urban jungle doesn’t get any consideration. Day Day who grew up to the “pop-pop-pop” of gunfire, bloody streets, glorified violence in music, movies, and video games is just a problem. There’s no way he could suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, anger and abandonment issues or lack of healthy socialization. Day Day is just a bad seed.

Put Day Day aside for a minute, let’s talk about Kalief Browder. He was 16 when arrested and jailed on Rikers Island for robbery. Police picked him up in the Bronx coming home from a party. He was never tried, held for three years and released last summer. Kalief is suing authorities for $20 million. He suffers from flashbacks from beatings by guards and inmates, being starved by guards, and has attempted suicide inside and outside of prison. He was charged as an adult with robbery in the second degree, his family couldn’t come up with the $10,000 bond and off to hell in Rikers he was shipped.

None of that has anything to do with the fact that Kalief Browder is poor and Black, right?

(Final Call editor-in-chief Richard B. Muhammad can be reached at editor@ You can also follow him on Facebook and @RMfinalcall on Twitter and Instagram.)