FORT WORTH -- Ethan Couch, the so-called affluenza teen who was ordered to jail for almost two years last week, was transferred from Tarrant County’s maximum-security jail to a “less restrictive” facility Tuesday morning, Sheriff Dee Anderson said.
Terry Grisham, top administrative assistant with Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office, says Couch will still not be mingling with other inmates. Couch will now be given an hour a day outside of his cell in a common area adjoined by other cells, but the other cells will be locked when Couch is out.
Couch’s safety is “still our big concern with him,” Anderson said.
Ethan Couch drew international attention for killing four people while driving drunk in 2013. Now-retired juvenile court judge Jean Boyd drew scorn for sentencing Couch to 10 years of probation with counseling. A psychologist in Couch’s testified that Ethan Couch suffered from “affluenza” because he had rich parents who never gave him consequences for his behavior.
After Couch’s case was transferred to adult court in April, district Judge Wayne Salvant sentenced him to two years in jail before he can continue his probation on the outside.
Couch has been in isolation at the county’s Lon Evans Correction Center in downtown Fort Worth since Feb. 5, when a judge transferred him from the county’s juvenile jail. He was returned to North Texas from Mexico in January after he skipped a probation appointment and fled the country with his mother, Tonya Couch.
At Lon Evans, Couch was also allowed out of his cell for only one hour a day. He had no contact with anyone and wasn’t allowed to talk to jailers.
Grisham said, at some point in the future, he could see the possibility of Couch being allowed to have physical contact will a few inmates in the Tarrant County Corrections Center.
Anderson said moving Couch across the street to the county’s regular jail was “appropriate.” The sheriff recently told News 8 he is aware of growing concerns about the psychological impact of isolation on inmates, especially young inmates.
“He has not been any kind of behavior problem,” Anderson said. “He’s been nothing but compliant with us ... he understands why we’ve been doing what we’re doing. He realizes he could be in danger.”
At the regular county jail, Couch will still be in a single cell but will have daily access to a day room, which includes chairs, tables and televisions, Anderson said. The day room also connects to a gym, where inmates can work out.
Tonya Couch faces possible indictment for helping her son flee to Mexico after video surfaced on Twitter showing the teen at a beer party after he was released from treatment.
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