Guilty or Not, the Law Benefits the Rich

Those in poverty should not have to suffer based on their income

Guilty or Not, the Law Benefits the Rich

Jorja Wilson, Reporter

For way too long, people who are wealthy, part of the 1%, or well-off have been able to get away with breaking the rules, as long as they can pay. If you can’t afford the fine, your life is over. The rich have been given countless opportunities for second chances and most get off with barely a slapped wrist. 

This system has been designed against the poor and to benefit the wealthy. The unjust money bail policies have been stripping the rights off of those unfortunate enough to get in their situation for far too long. 60% of U.S. jails are filled with people awaiting trial, not convicted criminals. They’re stuck there not because of their guilt or risk to flee, but because of their poverty. This system needs to change, to be just and fair no matter your income. 

According to a presentation, in 2014, Justin Bieber was arrested for drunk driving and drag racing in Miami. He pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and reckless endangerment. Instead of getting the 6 months in jail, $1000 fine, and license suspension, he paid $2,500 and spent 1 hour in jail.

 A non celebrity gets a maximum 6 months in prison, 6 month license suspension, and $1,000 fine. Bieber pleaded guilty, yet he didn’t even get the bare minimum punishment. He was illegally drinking, and was let back onto the streets where he could do more harm. Justin Bieber was only one example of people with wealth getting away with breaking the law, whereas people in poverty are left to sit in jail, whether they are guilty or not.

A teenager in Texas was let off the hook for killing four people due to drunk, underage, driving, said Michael Gonchar of the New York Times. The kid was from a wealthy family, and said he had affluenza, a social condition that only affects those of privilege.

Matthew Broderick was able to get away with killing a mother and daughter with his car and only had to pay $175, the presentation stated. He didn’t even serve time. Without his status he would have done up to 14 years with unlimited fines. There are countless other examples of rich people getting away with breaking the law.

Rich people can be hard working people that earned their money, but that shouldn’t give them any privileges. Being wealthy itself is a privilege. There are so many examples of people of wealth getting away with crimes, big or small. And people in poverty get the maximum punishment, guilty or not. Rhaman Bethea, a Charlotte man, was imprisoned for allegedly embezzling electronics from his work, said a Charlotte Observer article by Michael Gordon. He came $800 short of bail, it cost him his home, car, and family.

The 1% have a system that was made to support them. The daily injustice has nothing to do with hard work, and everything to do with privilege. Maranda Lynn Odonneel is just one more example of a person in poverty getting injustice, says a Los Angeles Times article. She was a single mother of two, arrested in Houston, Texas for allegedly not having a valid license. She was put in jail for 3 days, unable to afford the $2,500 dollar fine.

According to the Nicole Biagioni of the Daily Collegian, Felicity Huffman was arrested along with her accomplices for mail fraud, a federal offense. There was a maximum 30 years in prison with hefty fines. Huffan pleaded guilty and served 10 months in prison.

We need to abolish money bail in all states, and instead have a risk, not wealth, based pretrial release. Focus on using jails to house serious offenders and criminals, not people with traffic violations (for example) that can’t pay bail. The unjust policies of money bail have been stripping people of their rights for too long and change is needed now.