Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Sexual violence; classism; white cis male privilege.]

Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden has sentenced Robert H. Richards IV, an heir to the du Pont fortune who is unemployed and lives off a trust fund, to probation for the rape of his three-year-old daughter because, she says, he "will not fare well" in prison.
Court records show that in Judge Jan Jurden's sentencing order for Robert H. Richards IV she considered unique circumstances when deciding his punishment for fourth-degree rape. Her observation that prison life would adversely affect Richards confused several criminal justice authorities in Delaware, who said that her view that treatment was a better idea than prison is typically used when sentencing drug addicts, not child rapists.

Jurden gave Richards, who had no previous criminal record, an eight-year prison term, but suspended all the prison time for probation.

"Defendant will not fare well in Level 5 [prison] setting," she wrote in her order.

...Kendall Marlowe, executive director of National Association for Counsel for Children, said that individuals who abuse youngsters deserve to be punished.

"Child protection laws are there to safeguard children, and adults who knowingly harm children should be punished," said Marlow. "Our prisons should be more rehabilitative environments, but the prison system's inadequacies are not a justification for letting a child molester off the hook."
Shades of the sentencing of Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old wealthy white Texas teenager who received probation after killing four people while drunk driving, because he suffers from "affluenza," i.e. being a privileged shit who's never held accountable for his actions.

As I said regarding that case, I agree that the worst way to deal with a lot of criminalized behavior is sending people into our terrible for-profit prison system, and I strongly believe that the US prison system needs major reforms, but "rich white cis male perpetrators get probation and therapy" does not constitute meaningful prison reform. Privileging the privileged merely entrenches existing inequities.

Further, this is a man who raped his own child. (Possibly both his children: He also stands accused of sexually abusing his infant son.) He is vanishingly less likely to benefit from treatment than a person convicted of just about any other crime.

This is what constitutes "justice" in the US: A rich white man gets probation for repeatedly raping his daughter, while a poor black woman is facing charges and prison time for leaving her children in a car for less than an hour while she went to a job interview in the hopes of providing for them.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus