Western Courier

Wealth privilege remains an issue

Steven Barnum, Courier Staff

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Privilege has always existed in the United States, but wealth especially, allows people to get away with more than they should.

For years, we’ve seen wealthy people break laws and find a way to get out of serving time in prison. Ordinary citizens like myself wouldn’t be able to use status as an excuse for committing similar crimes, whether it’s money laundering or even something much less serious.

Even when rich and famous people can’t use their name to get out of going to jail, they are sent to prisons that are relatively safe and easier to endure. With this trend, people like Martha Stewart essentially go on a bad vacation for a few years and then go back to living a normal life.

Bill Cosby, possibly the most prolific rapist in the history of the world, will only serve three years because of his name, fortune and age. Looking at it from a glass half full perspective, it seemed unlikely that Cosby would have went down, which indicates progress. The same assumption could be made for R. Kelly, who also faced time in prison speculation that he wouldn’t face the consequences. At one point, they would have certainly gotten out of it.

Jordan Belfort, who took money from millions of people that he had no intention of giving it back to, only served a couple of years in a “prison.” There’s even a movie that glorifies his story and he is played by none other than Leonardo DiCaprio. I don’t just think that he should have served more time because I’m jealous of his life, but it’s also messed up how he could knowingly be that corrupt and only get a slap on the wrist.

Then there’s Jussie Smollett, who lied to the police about being attacked, which wasted millions of dollars in investigations. As of now, the charges are dropped and he will not serve time in prison. It makes no logical sense why somebody who lied like that would get away with it, but that’s what happens when you have an empire.

Recently, the theme of rich celebrities getting out of potential prison time may be turning the other way. After the college admissions scandal, Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin both appear to be destined for prison. Loughlin even pleaded not guilty, showing that she knows what her wealth could do for her. If they both serve time, then that may prove that the days of getting away with everything are over.

To me, it’s not enough that these people lose their reputations and their careers; they also need to pay a price that they would definitely be paying if they were in our shoes. The saying, “You are treated better if you are wealthy and guilty than if you are poor and innocent” remains to be true. The standards within the criminal justice system seem to be changing for the better but there is still a lot of work to be done to eliminate wealth privilege.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Wealth privilege remains an issue