Sunday, October 25, 2015

Kids For Cash: Inside One of the Nation's Most Shocking Juvenile Justice...

This is the first of three episodes on that you can view in sequence.

"Kids for Cash" is a must see, very disturbing documentary if you've not seen it.  Here is Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! covering it on her program. It tells the story of Pennsylvania, school-age children being summarily handcuffed and dragged out of the courtroom for truly minor infractions before bewildered, astonished parents that had been previously discouraged from getting attorneys in their children's defense.  In 2008, executive director of the Juvenile Law Center, Robert Schwartz,was able to investigate this and unearth this horrific practice of kickbacks to the tune of $2.6 million from Robert Mericle and Robert Powell, co-owners of two private, for-profit juvenile facilities.

The corrupt judge behind this scandal is named  Mark Aurthur Ciavarella, Jr.  He received a 28-year sentence in federal prison and is now doing time at the Federal Correctional Institution, Williamsburg in Salters, South Carolina. In this report, Goodman engages the voices of youth and parents left with shattered lives and indelible scars in the aftermath of this injustice.  Also see the Wikipedia article by its same title, "Kids for Cash Scandal."

It is important to bring these scandals to light so that parents and the public, in general, can not only grasp the powerful, for-profit interests that influence the adjudication of crime—with this as an extreme case (the very same interests that drive undocumented immigrant detention), but also so that they can act more wisely and intelligently on their children's behalf.  Children and parents do have rights to an attorney and an appeal whenever appearing before a judge; and they should never be so trusting.  I did a quick search and here is one site that provides a checklist of rights in the event that you or your son/daughter gets arrested.

Angela Valenzuela

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