‘Affluenza’ Texan, who killed 4 driving drunk, released from jail

FILE PHOTO: Ethan Couch, the so-called "affluenza" teen, is brought into court for his adult court hearing at Tim Curry Justice Center in Fort Worth, Texas April 13, 2016. Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner/Pool via REUTERS

By Marice Richter

FORT WORTH, Texas (Reuters) – A Texan who was dubbed the “affluenza teen” was released from jail on Monday after serving nearly two years for killing four people while driving drunk and later fleeing to Mexico with his mother, law enforcement officials said.

The case made headlines worldwide after lawyers for Ethan Couch, now 20, argued that his wealthy upbringing impaired his ability to tell right from wrong. He has moved from the Tarrant County Jail and was being processed at a probation office, jail officials said.

Couch was released a few days before his 21st birthday and will remain under strict probation supervision, the county sheriff’s office has said.

It was not clear where Couch will go upon his release. His mother is in jail for violating the terms of her bond after being charged with helping her son flee to Mexico.

“Ethan does not wish to draw attention to himself and requests privacy so he may focus on successfully completing his community supervision and going forward as a law-abiding citizen,” his lawyers, Scott Brown and Reagan Wynn said in a statement.

Couch’s father, who runs a sheet metal business, did not respond to requests for comment.

Couch was 16 and had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit for an adult when he struck and killed four people in June 2013 with his pickup truck.

At his trial in juvenile court that year, a psychologist testifying on his behalf described Couch as suffering from “affluenza.” The psychologist said it was an affliction brought on by being spoiled by his parents and it had skewed his moral compass.

Couch was sentenced to 10 years of probation for intoxication manslaughter, sparking outrage from critics who ridiculed the affluenza defense and said his family’s wealth had kept him out of jail.

But in late 2015, when a social media video surfaced that showed him in possible violation of his drug-and-drink-free probation, he and his mother, Tonya Couch, fled for Mexico, where the two were later apprehended and deported.

In 2016, a Tarrant County judge transferred Ethan Couch’s probation supervision to the adult system, and as a condition of the transfer, ordered him to serve 720 days in jail, 180 days for each of his four victims.

That sentence was seen as the maximum possible, given the various legal mechanisms of a case that spanned the juvenile and adult systems, legal officials said.

(Reporting by Marice Richter and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, David Gregorio and Susan Thomas)

6,000 Federal Prisoners to be Released; Drug-Related Sentences Reduced

6,000 prisoners will begin to be released on October 30th and that is only the beginning in an attempt to relieve the massive overcrowding in Federal prisons.  This is the largest release of prisoners at one time in an effort to provide relief to drug offenders who received harsh sentences over the past three decades, according to U.S. officials.

The early release was prompted by the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s decision in July 2014 that reduced the punishment for drug offenders and made that decision retroactive.  

Close to 50,000 federal inmates locked up on drug charges will be eligible for reduced sentences. The new sentencing guidelines took effect on Nov. 1, 2014.

Most of the soon to be released prisoners are already in halfway houses and home confinement.  

“The Department of Justice strongly supports sentencing reform for low-level, non-violent drug offenders,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement. “The Sentencing Commission’s actions — which create modest reductions for drug offenders — is a step toward these necessary reforms.”

Each case will reviewed by a federal judge in the district in which the inmate’s case was tried in order to determine whether it would be beneficial to public safety to grant the prisoner early release.

According to The Sentencing Commission an additional estimated 8,550 inmates would be eligible for release between this Nov. 1 and Nov. 1, 2016.

ISIS Releases 200 Captives

The Islamic terrorist group ISIS surprised observers by releasing over 200 Yazidis after keeping them hostages for eight months.

Most of the freed captives were elderly, in poor health and bore signs of abuse and neglect.  General Hiwa Abdullah told the Associated Press that 40 of the freed captives were children.

The terrorists reportedly gave no reason for the captive’s release.

The captives who were able to speak with reporters shared stories of their captivity and kidnapping.  Jar-Allah Frensis, 88, said the terrorists stormed his home in Sinjar and took him along with his wife and son.

“The militants took all of our money and jewelry. We have been living under constant fear till our release,” Frensis told The Associated Press.

Frensis says he doesn’t know what happened to his son.

ISIS released 200 prisoners in January and the Kurdish military said the believed the release was because the prisoners were too much of a burden for their captors.

Administration Releases Five Terrorists From Guantanamo

Five Islamic terrorists from Yemen have been released from Guantanamo Bay by the Obama administration and four were sent to Oman.

Oman is right next door to Yemen and it would be likely the terrorists could then simply cross the border into Yemen and return to their terror cells.  The fifth terrorist was sent to Estonia.

“The United States coordinated with the Government of Oman to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures,” the DOD said.

Yemen has been in the spotlight since the terrorist attacks in Paris because the Al Qaeda affiliates located in Yemen planned the operations.  Republican Senators are calling on the administration to stop the release of terrorists from Guantanamo and returning them to Middle East.

“It’s clear that we need a time out,” Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) said.  “Now is not the time to be emptying Guantanamo.”

Meriam Ibrahim Released Again

Sudanese authorities have released Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim again after her arrest on using what was termed “illegal documents.”

“The airport passport police arrested Abrar after she presented emergency travel documents issued by the South Sudanese Embassy and carrying an American visa,” the Sudanese national security force wrote in a Facebook post. “The Sudanese authorities considered [the action] a criminal violation, and the Foreign Ministry summoned the American and South Sudanese ambassadors.”

Abrar is the Islamic family name used by her relatives.

Ibrahim’s attorney Eman Abdul-Rahman said that she had been released Thursday following significant pressure on the Sudanese government by leaders from other nations including the U.S. State Department.

“We’re encouraged that the State Department is engaged and working to secure the freedom of Meriam and her family,” Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, told Fox News. “Whether Meriam and her family have been ‘temporarily detained’ or arrested, holding U.S. citizens against their will is extremely disturbing and unacceptable. It has always been our concern that the only way the Ibrahim family could be truly safe is to leave Sudan.”

Meriam Ibrahim Freed By Appeals Court

The prayers of millions of Christians throughout the world were answered joyously with the release of Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim.

Sudan’s SUNA news agency said the ruling was made Monday morning.  The appeals court cancelled the verdict and sentence of the previous court meaning that Ibrahim could be immediately released from prison.  She and her children were reportedly taken to a house that was not disclosed to the press for security reasons as she and her family have received death threats from Islamists.

Ibrahim was convicted by a Sudanese court last month of apostacy and adultery because though she said she was always a Christian and married a Christian man, the court said she was Muslim because her father was Muslim and thus could not convert to Christianity or marry a Christian man.  Her child proved her adultery in the eyes of the court.

She gave birth to her second child while in prison and was forced to give birth with her legs shackled to the wall.

Ibrahim, married to American Daniel Wani, had been the subject of international outcry with British Prime Minster David Cameron, former PM Tony Blair and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for her immediate release.

The family has not said if she will remain in Sudan.  Her husband had told various news outlets during her imprisonment that they would flee the country if she was ever set free.