Too Rich for Prison?

Is there such a thing as too rich for prison? Well, this case takes back in 2009 but in light of a suit filed by the ex-wife, it has become a controversial verdict in the last couple of days even though it was decided years ago. Richard H. Richards IV, unemployed and living off his trust fund, heir to the DuPont fortune pleaded guilty to fourth degree rape of his 3 year old daughter who accused Du Pont at the age of 5.  Now, he admitted to raping his daughter after Judge Jan Jurden suspended the 8 year prison sentence in favor of probation, treatment, and prohibiting contact with children under the age of 16 as well as registering as a sex offender. Now, the too rich for prison comes into place when Judge Jan Jurden gave for explanation, “defendant will not fare well” in prison. Let me just interject: Is anyone meant to fare well in prison?

The reason stated that the defendant wouldn’t fare well in prison is simply because he would become a target to the other inmates and the system wouldn’t be able to protect him. A target due to him being a rich white man convicted of child rape. Unbelievable, right? Where is this predicament taken into consideration when it is a poor person or a minority in the same situation as the defendant’s circumstance? This case is not only controversial for its ruling but also due to the close hit to the Ethan Couch case where a rich teenager who killed four and wounded two wasn’t given any jail time.

However, we do have a bigger issue at stake, the “accepted” idea that those convicted of child molestation are fiercely targeted and sexually abused by other inmates. The belief that it is expected that if the law can’t give the correct “justice” than the inmates in prison will. There is an established law protecting this from happening, though the results aren’t quite satisfactory, Prison Rape Elimination Act, yet our acceptance to abuse in the confinement system aids the justice system to protect the convicted of these crimes or rather in most cases just the rich. If lawmakers and/or society aren’t able to fix the system than we are contributing to protecting these horrid human beings of obtaining their true sentence under the law.

It may sound ludicrous to some or to others it may be a reinforcement to what is already known but this criminal is living in luxury instead of rotting in prison like the rest of the criminals.  Is it justified in the law that those with actual financial means be treated differently under the law because of the way they would be treated in prison? Is it right that all the other criminals with the same crime be treated differently under the law because they’re not rich? If there is an acceptance to what occurs to criminals incarcerated than shouldn’t we change the prison system itself instead of protecting only those with money?



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8 Responses to Too Rich for Prison?

  1. ajgoldsmith says:

    I believe that your post was very well executed. You display some of the inequalities that exist within the legal system. the fact that those with power generally do not receive the same justice as those who are less powerful. Our justice system is broken. Taking the steps of ending the war on drugs, reforming the plea bargain process, and engaging in a truly adversarial yet mindful trial process would help. However, if we want to truly create a system of justice, we need to adopt a fundamentally new understanding of how we deal with “criminals.” The goal needs to be rehabilitation in the greatest sense of the word — toward the embodiment of the freedom to create oneself. One where one’s actions and ethics are based around a principle of ends in and of themselves and never means to ends. One may ask if this is practical and what would this look like. This is not practical in the sense of a technologically useful. Instead it is practical because it is the only feasible action that can bring forth the enlightenment and renaissance that we need.

  2. Very well written blog post. I agree there is a major problem in the Legal system in the United States. In the past and even in todays world there is a “get out of jail free card” that goes along with a persons last name and or celebrity. Take Martha Stewart as an example, is convicted of insider trading, goes to prison for a month and is then placed on house arrest. And now the new thing for all the celebrities is to go to rehab instead of going to prison. And with your article a father accused of rapping his 3 year old daughter, will not serve time he rightfully deserves simply because of the political and economical powers that come with his last name. The irony in that is a nobody in some little town who had less then an ounce of weed on his person will do more time the the father who rapped his daughter. I ask is justice really blind?

  3. bmfdub says:

    It may be relevant to consider that the molestation trial was quite public. It is a case covered by many media outlets, both local and national. As such, it is not unlikely to believe that the prisoners that would surround this person would not only know of them but would be somewhat knowledgeable of their crimes. As you said, child molesters are fiercely targeted in prison. Would it not be cruel punishment to just throw them to the hounds?

    It is possible that there was not sufficient evidence to convict at trial and the sentence was a product of a plea bargain. If so, then it is more of a question of whether the fact that rich people can afford better lawyers is just or not.

    As the article suggests, it is hard to really criticize without knowing the totality of the circumstances.

  4. darrian01 says:

    It’s so unbelievable that people can pay their way out of a conviction. No matter what your economic status is, if you have committed a crime that hurts an individual you should serve the time. The justice system is so quick to punish a criminal who comes off the street or is from a not so affluent background. Also those can’t afford proper representation get represented by public defenders who could care less whether or not they get convicted or not. We see this happen with celebrities, where they will commit a crime and get 3 days in prison. The legal system shouldn’t revolve around a persons wealth but should do what is right and what will help benefit the greater good of society.

  5. seancity971 says:

    Your post is very interesting for a few reasons. First of all, it is ghastly to think that this man’s verdict is even a question regardless of who he is. Second of all, it would seem that your post really reflects our reading of minnow and williams. Both of these authors talked about the dangers of differentiating people and I believe this fits in perfectly with that argument. Differentiating people leads to some people getting screwed over inevitably and we must be equal in our treatment for a fair society. If we were to argue against Minnow or Williams that would basically mean letting a child molestor off the hook, acording to these guidelines.

  6. lgallar1 says:

    I like this post a lot! I am absolutely angry that this man is not in prison because he is “rich.” It disgusts me because they are protecting a sick man who committed a horrendous crime. He deserves to go to jail just like everyone else who commits horrendous crimes, no exceptions. I do not care if your rich, sick or poor, you should go to jail for the crimes you commit especially as nasty as sexual assault towards a child. Here is an example that the Criminal Justice system needs to go through a serious reformation, because this is just outrageous.

  7. It’s a ridiculous situation, but the problem goes beyond wealthy individuals getting off lightly. White-collar crime is prosecuted, and its perpetrators sentenced, very differently from other kinds of crime in the United States. Not a single executive from the financial institutions that caused the 2009 financial collapse went to jail, for example.

    It’s actually a stated policy of the Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder, back in 1999 when he was a deputy AG, wrote a memo which said that, “[v]irtually every conviction of a corporation, like virtually every conviction of an individual, will have an impact on innocent third parties.” ( These companies hire so many people, and so much money is tied up in them that if the company were to go out of business due to prosecution of executives, many people who had nothing to do with any wrongdoing could be harmed.

    This preference of pragmatism over the law has reached absurd new heights when HSBC was caught laundering money for the drug cartels who have wreaked untold horrors in Mexico. No one went to jail. Instead federal prosecutors opted for “deferred prosecution,” fines in other words.

    Journalist and author Matt Taibbi noted in a recent interview with Jon Stewart that aside from the “collateral consequences” argument, some prosecutors have decided, as the judge did in your post, Jenny, that these banksters who defraud millions and aid drug cartels, “aren’t appropriate for jail.”

    As one federal prosecutor told Taibb, “Jails are dangerous. People get stabbed there!”
    (—matt-taibbi-extended-interview-pt–1) As Taibbi points out, it’s outrageous that the millions of people incarcerated on drug charges aren’t given similar considerations.

  8. eifiguer says:

    This is an interesting post. It enrages me that the criminal justice system does favor those who have more money, or even celebrities. There are many injustices in the criminal justice system and elites are playing they system while they should be going to jail they are walking away free. What makes poor people more suitable for jail while rich people are not going to “fare well” in jail? I’ve always wanted to work in law enforcement but the fact that people can get away with so much depending on how much money or how popular and important they are to the public disgusts me.

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