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The Culture of Victimization Runs Wild

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It's standard practice for criminal defendants to portray themselves as victims  --  of racism, poor schooling, parental abuse and economic status, to name four you see all the time.  

Doug Berman at Sentencing Law & Policy has a dumbfounding story this morning of the latest turn in the defense bar's painting the client as the victim.  It concerns parental "abuse" and economic "status," alright, but with a twist.

The client is a 16 year-old who plowed into a group of pedestrians and another car, killing four people.  For this behavior, his sentence was probation  --  not a day of confinement, not in prison, not anywhere.  Probation and, of course, "treatment."

Why such a lenient sentence?  As the story recounts:

To the families of the victims, Ethan Couch was a killer on the road, a drunken teenage driver who caused a crash that left four people dead.

To the defense, the youth is himself a victim -- of "affluenza," according to one psychologist -- the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for the boy....

Lawyers for Couch, 16, had argued that the teen's parents should share part of the blame for the crash because they never set limits for the boy and gave him everything he wanted. According to CNN affiliate WFAA, a psychologist called by the defense described Couch as a product of "affluenza." He reportedly testified that the teen's family felt wealth bought privilege, and that Couch's life could be turned around with one to two years of treatment and no contact with his parents.

So let's get this straight.  If you're poor and your parents treat you badly, you're a victim and you have an excuse.  On the other hand, if you're rich and your parents treat you well, you're also a victim and you too have an excuse.  Do we all have that down?

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I remember when mitigating factors at sentencing had some basis in reality.

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