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Old 12-17-2009, 05:05 PM   #16
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Our judicial scandal was the plot line for a recent The Good Wife, including the little tidbits most non-locals wouldn't know.
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Old 12-17-2009, 05:52 PM   #17
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I've seen a few episodes of The Good Wife (not the one about the scandal)-I like it. I should watch it every week..maybe it's on On Demand

I love Julianna Margulies and she looks prettier than ever
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Old 08-11-2011, 12:18 PM   #18
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One of the kid for cash judges (Ciavarella) was sentenced this morning to 28 years federal. He never was convicted of the kid for cash stuff, never particularly indicted for it, but it was always the undercurrent for the charges for which he was convicted in February, including racketeering. Some celebration around here today. He will appeal, but he was immediately taken into custody.

The second judge pled guilty last July but has yet to be sentenced. Assumption being that he is singing about how deep the corruption goes.


Quote:

USA Today


By David Kidwell, AP

Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in federal prison for taking $1 million in bribes from the builder of a pair of juvenile detention centers in a case that became known as "kids for cash."

Ciaverella, 61, was motionless when the decision was announced and had no reaction. From behind him, where family members of some of the children he sentenced sat, someone cried out "Woo hoo!"

In the wake of the scandal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed about 4,000 convictions issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea.

Ciavarella was tried and convicted of racketeering charges earlier this year. His attorneys had asked for a "reasonable" sentence in court papers, saying, in effect, that he's already been punished enough.

"The media attention to this matter has exceeded coverage given to many and almost all capital murders, and despite protestation, he will forever be unjustly branded as the 'Kids for Cash' judge," their sentencing memo said.

Al Fora, Ciaverella's lawyer, called the sentence harsher than expected. Ciaverella surrendered immediately but it was not immediately known where he would serve his sentence.

Ciaverella, speaking before the sentence was handed down, apologized to the community and to those juveniles that appeared before him in his court.

"I blame no one but myself for what happened," he said, and then denied he had ever incarcerated any juveniles in exchange for money.

He also criticized U.S. Assistant Attorney Gordon Zubrod for referring to the case as "kids for cash," and said it sank his reputation.

"He backdoored me, and I never saw it coming. Those three words made me the personification of evil," Ciaverella said. "They made me toxic and caused a public uproar the likes of which this community has never seen."

Federal prosecutors accused Ciavarella and a second judge, Michael Conahan, of taking more than $2 million in bribes from the builder of the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers and extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facilities' co-owner.

Ciavarella, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom demeanor, filled the beds of the private lockups with children as young as 10, many of them first-time offenders convicted of petty theft and other minor crimes.

The judge remained defiant after his arrest, insisting the payments were legal and denying he incarcerated youths for money.

The jury returned a mixed verdict following a February trial, convicting him of 12 counts, including racketeering and conspiracy, and acquitting him of 27 counts, including extortion. The guilty verdicts related to a payment of $997,600 from the builder.

Conahan pleaded guilty last year and awaits sentencing.
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:14 PM   #19
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Our Continuing For-Profit Prison Problem

This is the latest story in the saga of why it's bad to have For-Profit prisons:

'Kids for cash' judge sentenced to 28 years for racketeering scheme - CSMonitor.com

Quote:
A Pennsylvania judge was sentenced Thursday for his part in what prosecutors called a 'kids for cash' scheme that sent juvenile offenders to privately run detention facilities in return for kickbacks.
Quote:
One of those cases involved 16-year-old A.A., who was arrested for gesturing with her middle finger at a police officer who had been called during a custody dispute involving her parents and her sister.
According to a 2010 report of the Interbranch Pennsylvania Commission on Juvenile Justice, A.A. was an honor roll student, a Girl Scout, and YMCA member, who attended bible school. She had no prior arrest record and had never even been in detention in school. She was sent to Ciavarella’s court, and was told she wouldn’t need a lawyer since it was a minor issue.

After examining the paperwork, Ciavarella informed A.A. that she had no respect for authority. She later told the investigating commission that Ciavarella never gave her an opportunity to speak at the hearing. She was led out of the courtroom in shackles and held in juvenile detention for six months.
Disgusting.
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:17 PM   #20
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A little judicial celebration

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Old 08-15-2011, 12:27 PM   #21
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Whoops, didn't search.

It came up again because of this:

Mother in 'kids for cash' scandal says she got justice - CNN.com
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:50 PM   #22
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I saw her on CNN-very sad. I liked when she screamed at that judge, good for her.
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:55 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by kramwest1 View Post
This is the latest story in the saga of why it's bad to have For-Profit prisons:
Hey! Another story:

Jailing Undocumented Immigrants Is Big Business (VIDEO)

Quote:
The Department of Homeland Security pays between $50 to $200 per day per person to local, county and state prisons to house apprehended aliens. A few years ago, a series I wrote for La Opinión showed how prisons in general, and California's prisons in particular, benefit from the largesse of the federal government and vie for a piece of this lucrative business. At that time, I visited a detention center in Lancaster, Calif., run by the Sheriff of Los Angeles, where immigrants rounded up in raids were housed until their deportation or legal proceedings. The process is supposed to take just a few days, but some of the detainees rushed to tell me that they had been kept there for more than two years.

"This happens frequently because the courts are so backlogged; not enough judges to hear the cases of those being held", explained Hoffman.

But the incarceration trend is not limited to public prisons. Thanks to a concerted lobbying push from the corrections industry, growing numbers of undocumented immigrants could end up in private detention facilities.
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Old 08-15-2011, 02:22 PM   #24
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^ That's been a longstanding gripe of many lawyers and activists involved in those proceedings: that Homeland Security officials are under immense pressure to show "results"--namely, convictions and jail time, typically for identity theft (i.e., having purchased an existing SS number on the black market for job application purposes), even though they'll ultimately just get deported anyway--in order to justify the hefty budget for Immigrations & Customs Enforcement. During the legal proceedings following the huge raid at the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Iowa three years ago, which I think to date remains the largest immigration raid in US history, one of the federal translators assigned to mediate between lawyers and arrested immigrants became disturbed enough to take the extraordinary (and probably career-destroying) step of writing an open letter decrying the abuses he saw taking place, which wound up getting printed in the WSJ, WaPO, NYT and other major media outlets. He decried the railroading of arrested immigrants through the system and the waste involved in holding, prosecuting, and imprisoning people who'd harmed no one, only to deport them anyway. But what had pushed him over the edge about this particular case was that most of the immigrants he was supposed to be helping were ethnic Maya, Quiché speakers with almost no Spanish let alone English, who didn't understand anything about the SS numbers they'd bought near the border except that 'you need this to get a job' (and didn't need to understand any more than that because Agriprocessors, like other companies which rely on illegal immigrants for cheap labor, had slipping illegal immigrants--including minors--through the applications process down to a science). So they understood neither the nature of their alleged crimes nor what they ought to say or consider in responding to the charges, yet their lawyers and translators were being told 'Look, just get this done.' In the end, fewer than a dozen Agriprocessors officials received any convictions at all, while more than 300 immigrants went to jail before eventually being deported.
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Old 09-23-2011, 10:21 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kramwest1 View Post
This is the latest story in the saga of why it's bad to have For-Profit prisons:

'Kids for cash' judge sentenced to 28 years for racketeering scheme - CSMonitor.com
The second judge involved in this was sentenced about half an hour ago to 17.5 years. He pled (pleaded).
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Old 04-17-2012, 02:49 AM   #26
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(This is about the juvenile justice system, but not about PA specifically; hope that's OK, if not let me know and I'll make a new thread.)


From an engrossing article in Wired about Richard Ross, a photographer who's spent the last several years documenting the lives of inmates at 350 juvenile correctional facilities across the US (most run by private companies, like we were discussing in this thread). I tacked on a few captioned pics from Ross' website, which has much more of his work. Enlightening, in a thoroughly disturbing way...
Quote:


The US locks up children at more than six times the rate of all other developed nations. The over 60,000 average daily juvenile lockups, a figure estimated by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), are also disproportionately young people of color. With an average cost of $80,000 per year to lock up a child, the US spends more than $5 billion annually on youth detention. On top of the cost, in its recent report No Place for Kids, the AECF presents evidence to show that youth incarceration does not reduce recidivism rates, does not benefit public safety and exposes those imprisoned to further abuse and violence.

Ross thinks his images of juvenile lock-ups can, and should, be “ammunition” for the ongoing policy and funding debates between reformers, staff, management and law-makers. “My images were used by a senate subcommittee as part of a discussion on Federal legislation to prevent pre-adjudicated, detained [pre-trial] juveniles from being housed with kids who’d committed hard crimes. You shouldn’t house these populations together,” says Ross.
Quote:


N.T., age 12, Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center, Lawrence, KS:
"I’ve been here a week--I have one more week to go. I’m here for a violation (probation). I was put here originally on battery charges (a fight with another boy). When Youth Services were called to take me I didn’t want to get in the car, so I didn’t put on my seat belt--that gave me another violation. I got into a fight with a kid because this kid was calling my mother names...I was beaten up by my stepdad when I was little. My mom doesn’t work. We live with my biological grandfather on my dad’s side. We pay rent in order to stay with him. I’ve got two brothers and one sister, they are 7, 8, and 9...I didn’t want to come back here. But here I am."
[Ross:] Institutionalizing juveniles and branding this as criminal behavior rather than dealing with it as normal behavior wrongly places juveniles in places they should not be...N.T. is in the same day room as four 17-year-old juveniles charged with armed bank robbery as well as other crimes.
Quote:
Over the course of the project, he interviewed over a thousand juveniles. “I consider it a privilege to sit in a cell with these kids for an hour and listen to their stories,” says Ross. “Every time I went in to a cell I’d sit on the floor. I’ve a terrible back, but I’d sit on the concrete floor so the kid was above me and had the visual authority to realize that I was subordinate to he or she, and I took direction from them.”

The stories he heard covered a range of issues, including children running drugs, parental abuse, homelessness, suicide attempts, addiction and illiteracy. But as difficult as the juveniles’ lives are, Ross is astonished by America’s widespread reliance on incarceration in its attempts to intervene. “Many of these children should be out in the community getting better services and treatment where they stand a chance of rehabilitating and being corrected. From lockdown facilities we’re not going to see a change in behavior...for the most part, these are vulnerable kids who come from dysfunctional families. And, for the most part, the crime is a crime of lack of expectation, a crime of a lack of opportunity,” says Ross.

States have turned away from punishing acts such as truancy and delinquency with detention; acts that are not criminal for an adult but have in the past siphoned youths into the court system. Less detention has been accompanied by less violent crime among youth. “It may seem counter intuitive, but if you look at the types of offenses for which we’re no longer detaining youth, it is not,” says Sarah Jane Forman, assistant professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and director of the Youth Justice Clinic which provides legal counsel to indigent youth. “The kids who have committed serious violent crimes, they remain locked up.” Not only is being locked up ineffective as a deterrent in youths who have not reached full cognitive development and don’t understand the consequences of their actions, it can actually make a criminal out of a potentially law-abiding kid. “We are addicted to incarceration,” says Dr. Barry Krisberg, lecturer and director of research and policy at the Berkeley School of Law’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy. “Young people [when detained] often get mixed in with those incarcerated on more serious offenses. Violence and victimization is common in juvenile facilities and it is known that exposure to such an environment accelerates a young person toward criminal behaviors.”

Following repeated abuse scandals in California Youth Authority (CYA) facilities in the ’90s, the Golden State carried out the largest program of decarceration in US history. Reducing its total number of facilities from 11 to 3 and slashing the CYA population by nearly 90%, California simultaneously witnessed a precipitous drop in crime committed by under-18s. The AECF identifies this as a common trend. “States which lowered juvenile confinement rates the most from 1997 to 2007 saw a greater decline in juvenile violent crime arrests than states which increased incarceration rates or reduced them more slowly,” says the report.

“In 2004, it was reported that over one thousand youth had been sexually assaulted by staff in the Texas juvenile justice system,” says Krisberg. “It was the emergence of legislation and scandals simultaneously that had people realizing these systems were unfixable.”
Quote:


A.W., age 16, Elko Youth Training Center, Elko, NV:
"I’m from southern California originally. I was living in Las Vegas, partying a lot, doing lots of drugs and trying to be a DJ. My Mom is emotionally distant and my step dad is very aggressive. One’s Catholic and the other is a Jehovah’s Witnesses. They really don’t like that I am gay. I am here for curfew violation and running away from rehab...Rehab wasn’t right for me so I ran away. A lot of guys here think they can have sex with me anytime they want because they are in prison so it doesn’t make them gay. It doesn’t count as long as they are giving rather than getting. These are a bunch of closet fags and a lot of homophobics. If I report them to the staff they hate me. Being gay in a place like this is hell. Being trans? I can’t even imagine that nightmare. I am here for 4-6 months…but I am not sure I will make it."
[Ross:] LGBTQ juveniles are more frequently ostracized by their families and friends; this loss of support leads to a higher degree of homelessness and criminal behavior to survive. Once the criminal behavior results in institutionalization, there can be further isolation or abuse from staff or peers.
Quote:
Ross, who can give his list of good and poor facilities and compare the efficacy of their management regimes, was always aware of institutions’ will to influence what he could and could not photograph. “I’m completely supportive of institutions that protect juveniles; that’s their charge. I’m conscious of making sure the kid is protected and that my well-meaning efforts don’t damage the kid by revealing something, especially if their case is pre-adjudicated. [But] I have very little tolerance for an institution that is more concerned with covering its ass, and some of these places are.” Yet, even in poor facilities, Ross also feels his work can potentially benefit the staff. “If you have a situation that is terrible and you show images, then the people [that work] in those institutions can use them and go to a legislature and the more they can say, ‘Our situation is dire--the way we are treating kids--we need to change it’.”

In one instance, the director of a detention unit in Reno, Nevada showed Ross’ photos to school principals in the facility’s catchment area. Under a zero-tolerance policy toward violence, a schoolyard scuffle at the principals’ schools could result in children being sent to the lock-up. The director asked the principals to think about whether his facility was a suitable solution, or if incidents could be attended to without the use of a cinder block cell.

....................
There exists no magic strategy for helping children who’ve found themselves subject to criminal law. In some cases, Ross concedes that detention can provide stability. “Some of them are nurtured and dealt with; in some cases they don’t have regular bedtimes, meals or shelters. They’re given stability for the first time. The officers act as juvenile counselors and in many cases they are the first sane male voice that try to listen to the kids, hear about their lives and try to impart coping skills. It is terrible that sometimes institutions do this and the family has not. And I don’t know how to solve it. All I can do is look at it, show differences in architecture and attitudes.”

On the other hand, Ross cannot separate his work from his personal politics and an appreciation of complexity. “I try to be somewhat objective and I feel like my camera is neutral, but I still have my tongue in my cheek because when you meet a kid that’s been held for three and a half years, hasn’t come to trial, his mother was a crack addict who tried to kill him two months before he ran away from home at 13; he’s never had a bedtime; he’s never had a present that he’s unwrapped on his birthday, he may have graduated elementary school where he was in Special Ed all the time; then he’s with a group of kids with whom he has allegedly car-jacked a vehicle and allegedly gang-raped a woman. There are victims here but I do feel that kids like this are victims of society--of a political system, an economic system and an education system. Some of these kids really don’t stand a chance at all. Have they committed crimes? Yes. But has society failed in the social contract to keep these kids in a safe environment? Absolutely.”

Perhaps more than any other factor, the incarceration of youth is effected by the education of youth. Ross often cites the situation in Oakland, a city which spends $4945 per child in its public school system, but $224,712 per child incarcerated in the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center. “That’s an equation that’s somewhat perverse,” says Ross.


In an effort to maximize the effect of his photography, Ross will give away images for free to non-profit groups working actively to improve conditions within, and laws pertaining to, juvenile detention. The Juvenile-In-Justice website regularly publishes new images, often grouped around a theme. Maintaining an overarching perspective and an eye on complexity, the website also features articles on associated topics such as trauma, rape, prison architecture and best practices. It’s not all about the photography, but for Ross it never was.
Quote:


A.W., age 16, Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center, Biloxi, MS:
"I have been here about three weeks. I got picked up for VOP [violation of probation]. Not much to do here. Mostly I write on the wall. I really don't want to talk to you."
[Ross:] There is currently a lawsuit against Harrison County Juvenile Detention which forced them to reduce their population. They must now maintain an 8:1 inmate-to-staff ratio. Today there were two girls here.


.........................................................................

Quote:
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In the end, fewer than a dozen Agriprocessors officials received any convictions at all, while more than 300 immigrants went to jail before eventually being deported.
As a footnote--while skimming through Ross' website I noticed a couple photos of juvenile inmates who'd been arrested in that Agriprocessors raid. Yes, that's a great use of our tax dollars--let's take children whose "crimes" consisted of dutifully working their asses off in the wrong country and stick them in juvenile detention with kids with violent criminal records and serious emotional problems, only to deport them afterwards anyway.
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Old 04-17-2012, 06:04 AM   #27
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Perfect place for this article. (I only work a block from the PA county courthouse where all the corruption was occurring, so I was following it somewhat obsessively). It was amazing the amount of overkill we subject these juveniles to because we can. The standard is so unbelievably low.

It is also a perfect tie-in with the local cases, because the schools were feeding their "bad" kids (including one girl whose crime was making fun of her principal on a website)
to the juvenile system rather than dealing with them themselves. One of the convicted judges would regularly give speeches at the schools. The whole situation was to blame for this abuse.

Scary what we do to our kids.
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Old 04-17-2012, 04:40 PM   #28
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It is also a perfect tie-in with the local cases, because the schools were feeding their "bad" kids (including one girl whose crime was making fun of her principal on a website) to the juvenile system rather than dealing with them themselves. One of the convicted judges would regularly give speeches at the schools.
For me, the one encouraging passage in the article was the anecdote about the Reno detention director who took the photos to local principals to show them, Please, think long and hard about whether this is the best solution you can find for your 'problem kids.' (Just looked it up, and sounds like that's a government facility rather than a private one.)

As you'd expect, girls were a minority among the inmates he interviewed, but like the boys, most of them sounded to have come from abusive, negligent, or chronically highly unstable family situations.

My next oldest brother worked for years at a group home/halfway house for male juveniles, and he's always said that if we just assigned a male mentor to all but the most violent of those kids rather than shunting them into the revolving door of the prison system, it'd be both a hell of a lot more effective and a hell of a lot less expensive. There will always be parents who gravely fail their children; that's no excuse for the rest of us to.
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Old 04-17-2012, 06:52 PM   #29
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I do take some hope in the detention director-- somebody who cared about those kids. You know one of the saddest things about the local case--because all the vitriol was thrown at the judges (and deservedly so), the principals, the other authorities who fed the system (including the police officers and the court officers) did not have to take a hard look at themselves.
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