Rich white man gets no jail time for raping his three-year-old daughter because he “will not fare well” in prison

Robert H. Richards IV

Robert H. Richards IV (Photo credit: USA TODAY)

*Trigger warning*

I can’t really imagine a story that more perfectly illustrates how totally broken the criminal “justice” system in the US is.

Robert H. Richards IV, a rich unemployed heir to a chemical baron fortune who lives off his trust fund, was convicted of raping his three-year-old daughter. He also allegedly admitted to abusing his toddler son. But a Delaware state Superior Court judge decided that he “will not fare well” in prison, so he should get probation and treatment instead

As a public defender in the state notes, the sentence might make the public skeptical about “how a person with great wealth may be treated by the system.” Um, ya think?

Nobody fares well in prisons. Because they are terrible, dehumanizing places. And, while treatment is sometimes presented as an alternative to incarceration–usually in cases of drug addiction–in the vast majority of cases, the US criminal justice system does not give a flying fuck about how prison affects the incarcerated. If it did, the system would look nothing like it does today. If it did, solitary confinement would be understood to be torture and outlawed as such. If it did, prison rape would be treated like the serious epidemic it is instead of as a punchline. If it did, literally millions of black men would not be condemned to second-class citizen status for minor drug offenses. If if did, there would be no mentally ill people in our prisons. If it did–if rehabilitation was really considered the goal–the world would probably be a better and safer place.

But that’s not the world we live in. As Kendall Marlowe, executive director of the National Association for Counsel for Children, says, “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.” If we’re gonna start giving a shit about whether incarcerating people is really a productive way to address criminal behavior–which, again, I would love for us to do–I can think of way better places to start than with a one percenter who raped his daughter.

(h/t Shakesville)

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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