Each year, millions of United States citizens are incarcerated. What many people do not know is that this could simply be because they do not have as much money or prestige as others. Perhaps judges are easier on upper class citizens because they have a great amount of influence on society; maybe they are proven guilty, but bail money is just too easy for rich people to pay. Whatever the case, average, everyday citizens are not treated equally to those with more money in their possession. Although the government would argue otherwise, the court system is aware that they allow special treatment to those of high monetary value, prestige, and public influence. The New York Times wrote in an article, “Last week a Texas judge decided not to send a teenager from a well-off family to prison after he killed four people while driving drunk.” This child killed four people while drunk, but because he was rich, he was not punished. The judge was more influenced by the money that this family had in their possession and donated to the city than the safety of the citizens who come in contact with this teenager. Most would believe that the judge’s position would have been terminated, but the result was the opposite. This judge was actually praised for her decision. She is only one of the many judges that let well-off people escape the courts without punishment. With this being said, many have come to believe that, unlike regular people, rich people get off easier when they break the law (Gonchar).
One of the most famous, well known cases in which a “rich person” was given special treatment in the court system was the People v. Simpson case of 1995. O.J. Simpson, a famous football star and actor, was tried for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. The trial ended when Simpson was told to try on a glove discovered at the crime scene that contained his and Nicole’s DNA. The glove appeared to be too tight to fit on Simpson’s hand. Simpson was then acquitted for the murders and left without any punishment. “On the morning of June 12, 1994, O.J. Simpson was worth an estimated $11 million” (Wells). By these standards, most people would classify Simpson as rich. The trial brought in more publicity than any other case of this time. Many arguments between those who believe Simpson was innocent and those who believe he was guilty erupted during the trial. Much more evidence has supported the latter, but the glove supposedly did not fit. The court came to the controversial decision that he was not guilty, but Steven M. Cooper states, “I assume that it is common ground that if Simpson had been an unknown person instead of a celebrity he would have been convicted quickly and easily. But of course Orethnal Simpson was not a poor and unknown man.” Cooper has presented the fact that O.J. Simpson would have been in jail for the murders had he been an average citizen with lack of influence on the public. The fact of the matter is that Simpson was not an average citizen. Instead, he was a rather well known person with a great amount of power and influence. He had his reputation, money, and power behind him, and that is most likely what kept him out of jail. Though he was a powerful figure in the world of football, there are others with more important power and influence than even Simpson. Many of these people have even attempted to run the United States (Cooper 165).
One person that could have possibly ran the country is Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is a household name in today’s society. Almost every person has heard her or her husband Bill Clinton’s name. Everyone knows that Hillary Clinton was a presidential candidate for the 2016 presidential election, but one important fact that most people seem to skip over is that she is a criminal. Hillary Clinton, former First Lady of the United States and former Secretary of State, deleted over 30,000 emails on a private email server that is predicted to be less secure than Gmail. These emails possibly contained top secret, classified information. In late August 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recovered thirty of these emails regarding the 2012 Benghazi attack. The FBI told the United States that Clinton did delete emails containing classified information, but allowed her to continue running in the election. Why is this? The answer to this question is simple: Hillary Clinton is rich. “Hillary Clinton's net worth is in the range of $11 million to $53 million, giving her an average net worth of $32 million with no apparent liabilities, according to federal records,” says Bankrate journalist, Mitch Strohm (Strohm). Hillary Clinton, by this fact, is considered rich. Her monetary value may have well been the reason that she is not in prison at this very moment for charges of treason. “Comey nevertheless concluded that since Clinton did not intend to break the law, ‘no reasonable prosecutor’ would indict her. But this rewrites the law, which penalizes gross negligence in the handling of national-security secrets as well as willful misconduct,” states The National Review. With this statement Hillary Clinton was left unpunished and free to do whatever she intended, including her most recent presidential campaigning (“The Week” 6-16).
Although the truth is that most celebrities and upper class citizens will be acquitted in the court, there have been a few cases in which this was not the result. Martha Stewart, for example, is one of these. Stewart was arrested in 2004 for insider trading, receiving information about stocks from nonpublic sources. The Richest stated, “American TV personality, writer, and business magnate Martha Stewart has an estimated net worth of $300 million in 2013” (“Martha Stewart Net Worth”). This gives Stewart a net worth greater than Simpson and Clinton combined! Stewart is one of the few examples of “rich people” that have been arrested. She, of course, is not the only one, but she may possibly be one of the most known. Although Martha Stewart was arrested, she did not receive the same treatment as other inmates. “The crafts shed really is tragically undersupplied. I have instructed my staff at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) to immediately furnish assorted ribbons, fabrics, paints, ceramic equipment, decoupage materials, spray adhesives, and the like (at my expense, of course).” This is an excerpt from a letter Stewart wrote to the warden of the jail in which she resided. Stewart was never actually treated as a prisoner, for the most part. She was simply a resident for a few months. In saying this, Martha Stewart was treated like every other “rich person” in the world. She may have went to jail, but she was never treated like she should have been in jail. In fact, even her good, homely reputation never suffered. As soon as she was released from jail, Martha Stewart went straight back to the everyday life of a millionaire as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and owner of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Martha Stewart is unlike some “rich people” since she was actually arrested, but she is also very similar to others since she was given the treatment equal to that of a person staying at a hotel for five months (Long 42).
Although many celebrities and “rich people” were actually arrested and punished for their actions, they have been given a pedestal since before even the well known businessman, John D. Rockefeller. They are expected to be these magnificent creatures that no average person can relate to or even be in the same proximity to. Since they are treated this way, “rich people” have been known for getting special treatment in court. The crimes these people commit range from murder to theft. No matter what the crime committed, celebrities and “rich people” tend to receive little to no punishment. O.J. Simpson, Hillary Clinton, and Martha Stewart have all been in court for major crimes. Of the three, only Stewart was actually arrested, and though she was arrested, she was still given special treatment. Like other celebrities before them, they have all been let off with minor consequences. So, in conclusion, the courts have always been too easy on “rich people.” They can afford to hire the best lawyer or even bribe the judges and in the case that they are found guilty, they can easily bail themselves out of jail, or their reputation proves to make incarceration too difficult and cause the jails difficulties on where to place them.