4 Criminals Who Spent Less Time in Jail Than the Homeless Mother Trying to Get a Job

Poverty has been criminalized. There is simply no doubt anymore that this is a fact. In our society, we pass laws demanding welfare recipients pass drug tests that they pay for out of their own pockets before we will provide them with financial assistance; we cut off unemployment benefits at 26 weeks or less despite the continuing difficultly many have at finding full time, living wage jobs in that amount of time; we put caps on the number of children a parent can have while on public subsidies while at the same time cutting off funding to groups that will help those parents prevent pregnancy if that is what they wish to do; and many states spend more money on prisons than schools.

Private companies are helping to send poor people to prison over small debts, and homeless Arizona mother Shanesha Taylor was just released after 10 days in jail, and is still being charged with child endangerment for leaving her baby and toddler in a car while on a job interview because she was unable to find someone to watch them.

The prison system has always been a place of inequality fueled mostly by race, class and economics. Now, just as the income gap is getting even wider between the rich and poor, we are seeing the divide between those who end up prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and those who walk with just a slap on the wrist increasing, too.

Here are 4 instances where the perpetrators served no time in jail, in comparison to Taylor, who was trying to find a way to get her family out of a hopeless situation.

1) Austin Smith Clem: Convicted by jury of raping a 14-year-old, this Tennessee man was lucky enough to get a judge who decided he would be best served in a community program for non-violent offenders. But that was supposed to be punishment enough since, after all, he was also going to be on probation and that was highly inconvenient. As his lawyer told Mother Jones, “‘[Clem's] lifestyle for the next six years is going to be very controlled…If he goes to a party and they’re serving beer, he can’t say, ‘Can I have one?’ If he wanted to go across the Tennessee line, which as the crow flies is eight or nine miles from his house, and buy a lottery ticket, he can’t do that…It’s not a slap on the wrist.’”

2) Robert H. Richards IV: A trust fund grandchild of the Du Pont family, Richards was charged with two counts of second-degree rape for molestation of his then 3-year-old daughter. He eventually admitted to the crime, which should have carried a minimum 2 years in jail for each charge, but instead, “He avoided mandatory prison time by pleading guilty to a single count of fourth-degree rape,” reports USA Today. The deal allowed him to avoid a mandatory minimum and substituted Level II probation. According to court reports, the judge was concerned Richards “will not fare well” in prison.

3) Ethan Couch: “Will not fair well” is apparently the common descriptor for “too privileged for jail,” but it took until this year for a lawyer to give it an official term – “affluenza.” It was affluenza that caused Texas teen Ethan Couch to drive drunk, killing four people, while assuming he was above the law. He was right. Thanks to the help of his lawyer and a lenient judge Couch was given 10 years probation because, if you are too wealthy to understand there are consequences to your actions, you are apparently too wealthy to be subject to those consequences.

4) Wall Street. Yes, pretty much everyone: The economic crisis was primarily caused by big banks breaking every rule there was, from insider trading to pushing loans they knew people couldn’t afford, bundling funds and more. Yet most of the people who got rich off of this also got off with no jail time.”[I]t’s shocking that for a crisis that drove the global economy off a cliff, caused millions of people to lose their homes and generally spread mass human misery to almost every corner of the earth there is no defining prosecution,” wrote Neil Irwin at the Washington Post.  “No man or woman who led one of the firms directly culpable for the catastrophe has been put in a prison-orange jumpsuit.”

Who is getting jail time? The people who are still suffering from the effects of our economic crisis and our massive income gap. People like Shanesha Taylor. And they are the ones who are being torn from their families and being put in prison.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Diane L.
Diane L3 years ago

(cont)........ I just saw on the news about one, a convicted gang-banger, in prison for illegal gun possession and drug offenses, and his MUG SHOT has had 75,000 "hits" on FB and he's a celebrity, with women "oggling" over him because he has "pretty blue eyes". He'll undoubtedly get out of prison with a big "fan club" and probably be offered a modeling job contract.

Diane L.
Diane L3 years ago

Yes, Juli, of course I read the article...........did you? Yes, I'm aware the writer is trying to compare the crimes of other violent offenders with this woman, but her focus is misguided. The supposedly "homeless" woman could have easily been charged with 2nd Degree Murder, or at the last, Manslaughter if her two young children had died. she spent 10 days in jail for "child endangerment".

I most certainly do not think the violent offenders who got little time in prison, justified by any means, but on the other hand, this woman doesn't deserve to be let off lightly and certainly did nothing to deserve the huge monetary sum in donations she received for having endangered her children. You still are ignoring the fact that this woman merely CLAIMED she was homeless,but evidence does not support that. She CLAIMS she was at a job interview, but she had 10 days notice and not a shred of evidence as to what she did to try to get child care. In my opinion, 10 days wasn't enough. If her kids died as a result of being in that car in 90 degree temperatures, THEIR SENTENCE would have been a "lifetime".

Now, the examples above are terrible injustices, but on the other hand, there are many violent criminals who were released back into the public. I just saw on the news about one, a convicted gang-banger, in prison for illegal gun possession and drug offenses, and his MUG SHOT has had 75,000 "hits" on FB and he's a celebrity, with women "oggling" over him because he has "pre

Juli Kring
Juli Kring3 years ago

to Diane L. "nobody is suggesting that it's okay to commit a crime just because you have money"

Did you read the article? That is excactly what is happening! If you are wealthy, you can literaly get away with murder.

Diane L.
Diane L3 years ago

Janice T., nobody is suggesting that it's okay to commit a crime just because you have money. Your next sentence also doesn't add up because first of all, this woman has shown absolutely not a shred of proof that she was ever homeless, nor that she was "working hard" since all she did was go to a job INTERVIEW that she had a 10-day notice for, yet left her two young children alone in a car in 90 degree temperatures for an hour and a half. She provided no substantiation of what she'd done to try to find care for them, either. What WAS proven was that her car was seen for a very long time parked in the driveway of her parents home in a very well-to-do neighborhood in Scottsdale.

Maybe the next time you are stopped for speeding in your car, or you shoplift, or whatever, you can use the excuse that you are "homeless" and were speeding on your way to a job interview, or you stole that expensive outfit to look good at said job interview. I'm sure that will "fly" and who knows, maybe somebody will start a fund for you that gets you $160,000.

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

Got bucks: go ahead and comment the crime.

Poor and working hard: Go to jail.

AnimalWhisperer Caswell

Discernment is the key to wisdom, and is so not being utilized or even recognized; People must wake up and smell the coffee!

Hanna Belle
Hanna Belle3 years ago

The whole "wealth and affluenza" thing really does bother me. We cannot make everyone follow the law and treat others right, whether they be of a different gender, race, or social class. However, the judicial system is a place where everything should be fair; where a male should receive the same treatment as a female, where a person of very low income should receive the same treatment as a trust-fund child. If that teen was "too wealthy to understand the consequences", then people need to take what ever he was inheriting and going to blow, and send that boy to school.

Mary B.
Mary B3 years ago

All employers should be required to have drug tests before they get any money from the Federal Reserve Banks, and prove that they can pay the money back. They should also be forced to pay a living wage to all workers, hire everybody who wants a job, keep them on reguardless of their skills, suitability or any thing. Sound extreme?Good! Listen to yourselves, those of you who put the whole burden on the poor.You're asking the impossible of the incapable and letting business owners off the hook . And then you wonder why people go crazy, get very sick, and abuse others.We have a safety net to help people, not punish them, but that notion seems too odd for some to take seriously.

Edgar Zuim
Edgar Zuim3 years ago

Unfortunately, the law is not for everyone.

Luna starr
luna starr3 years ago

plain and simple;this is horrific