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Jailing Kids for Cash

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Posted on Feb 17, 2009

By Amy Goodman

  As many as 5,000 children in Pennsylvania have been found guilty, and up to 2,000 of them jailed, by two corrupt judges who received kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities that benefited. The two judges pleaded guilty in a stunning case of greed and corruption that is still unfolding. Judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan received $2.6 million in kickbacks while imprisoning children who often had no access to a lawyer. The case offers an extraordinary glimpse into the shameful private prison industry that is flourishing in the United States.

  Take the story of Jamie Quinn. When she was 14 years old, she was imprisoned for almost a year. Jamie, now 18, described the incident that led to her incarceration:

  “I got into an argument with one of my friends. And all that happened was just a basic fight. She slapped me in the face, and I did the same thing back. There [were] no marks, no witnesses, nothing. It was just her word against my word.”

  Jamie was placed in one of the two controversial facilities, PA Child Care, then bounced around to several other locations. The 11-month imprisonment had a devastating impact on her. She told me: “People looked at me different when I came out, thought I was a bad person, because I was gone for so long. My family started splitting up ... because I was away and got locked up. I’m still struggling in school, because the schooling system in facilities like these places [are] just horrible.”

  She began cutting herself, blaming medication that she was forced to take: “I was never depressed, I was never put on meds before. I went there, and they just started putting meds on me, and I didn’t even know what they were. They said if I didn’t take them, I wasn’t following my program.” She was hospitalized three times.

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  Jamie Quinn is just one of thousands that these two corrupt judges locked up. The Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center got involved when Hillary Transue was sent away for three months for posting a Web site parodying the assistant principal at her school. Hillary clearly marked the Web page as a joke. The assistant principal didn’t find it funny, apparently, and Hillary faced the notoriously harsh Judge Ciavarella.

  As Bob Schwartz of the Juvenile Law Center told me: “Hillary had, unknown to her, signed a paper, her mother had signed a paper, giving up her right to a lawyer. That made the 90-second hearing that she had in front of Judge Ciavarella pretty much of a kangaroo court.” The JLC found that in half of the juvenile cases in Luzerne County, defendants had waived their right to an attorney. Judge Ciavarella repeatedly ignored recommendations for leniency from both prosecutors and probation officers. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard the JLC’s case, then the FBI began an investigation, which resulted in the two judges entering guilty-plea agreements last week for tax evasion and wire fraud.

  They are expected to serve seven years in federal prison. Two separate class-action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of the imprisoned children.

  This scandal involves just one county in the U.S., and one relatively small private prison company. According to The Sentencing Project, “the United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.1 million people currently in the nation’s prisons or jails—a 500 percent increase over the past thirty years.” The Wall Street Journal reports that “[p]rison companies are preparing for a wave of new business as the economic downturn makes it increasingly difficult for federal and state government officials to build and operate their own jails.” For-profit prison companies like the Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut) are positioned for increased profits. It is still not clear what impact the just-signed stimulus bill will have on the private prison industry (for example, the bill contains $800 million for prison construction, yet billions for school construction were cut out).

  Congress is considering legislation to improve juvenile justice policy, legislation the American Civil Liberties Union says is “built on the clear evidence that community-based programs can be far more successful at preventing youth crime than the discredited policies of excessive incarceration.”

  Our children need education and opportunity, not incarceration. Let the kids of Luzerne County imprisoned for profit by corrupt judges teach us a lesson. As young Jamie Quinn said of her 11-month imprisonment, “It just makes me really question other authority figures and people that we’re supposed to look up to and trust.”
 
  Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
 
  Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

  © 2009 Amy Goodman

  Distributed by King Features Syndicate


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By bubsgonzola, February 9, 2010 at 3:10 pm Link to this comment

I can’t believe this! Yeah congress had better get on this!
Ways For Kids To Make Money

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By alicialacyparker, May 21, 2009 at 7:58 pm Link to this comment

Animals have Zoo’s curators and are feed daily they are watched nurtured and cared for. They are locked up everyday in a cell. They have been snatched from their environment to become a spectacle for all to see. They never have one moment without having people gawk at them all day long… Children are not animals. Good or bad …We need adults to step up and empower themselves to get to know these ever changing generations of youth who evidently are misunderstood by most.

I love kids. In my youth I experienced allot and made my way through it all, but it took guidance counselors and teachers who saw my potiential,and help me love myself enough to want more out of my life.

We need more teachers who care and want to make changes in the youth.  Some need more than three chances some need ten. Who was the creator of tough love anyway? Have you gathered the statistics of the show called Intervention? I find that most only help themselves when others shower and profess their love for those who are in pain and in need of attention.

We all deserve love and attention. Sometimes we do not get enough. I hope that you are feeling about the youth changes. Maybe you would consider getting to know some or possibly working with a child to make a difference before you make such a harsh judgments by calling them animals… Labels belong on clothes not human beings.

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By alicialacyparker, March 30, 2009 at 8:02 pm Link to this comment

Incident number two in York Pa.. ON the same street. Today is March 30,2009 My son black… and two of his friends one white were riding down our block to drop my son off. A police officer stopped them. The driver rolled through a stop sign. The same officer who shot my older son with a stun gun in the article previously written by me.  Read the above.  He asked them did you know your ran a stop sign.. One of the kids said no…. He asked the driver for his driver’s license and registration,and he gave it to the officer. He then asked if they had any weapons or cntriband or BOMBS in the car thats right Bombs…..AS IF.. How many teenagers randomly drive around with Bombs in their cars a show of hands please.  THEY SAID NO….. HE THEN ASKED MY SON TO STEP OUT OF THE CAR.. THEN THEY Propted him up against THE TRUCK AND STARTED SEARCHING HIM. Then he asked the other black passenger if he could step out of the car patted him down too. He asked if there was anything in the car they both said no. Another cop came to the car,and seached the inside of the car… but, there was nothing in it.. He then said he doesnt want them to get into trouble.. What da ? does that mean..,The Fact still remains he made them sit on the curb ran their names ,and searched them..
This is the same officer who stun gunned my son. for walking up to his home in a neighborhood that the officer thought my child didint live simply because he was black ..
These officers are still making routine stops of the youth in my area black, latin and hispanic youth. This is ridicoulous.  I am scared for the lives of youth and people of color where i live. These officers are really making it hard on the youth of color.  Where does it stop? These incidents took place in less than 7 months time I have three sons all of color.. I will keep you posted as to their incidents I have resorted to adding a mini web cam to my car to monitor the actions of the authorites while being stopped ...MY family and I will be moving soon the racism in this area is scary ....This is what you go through for a simple traffic stop if your a person of color in York City Pa I will keep you informed..

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By alicialacyparker, March 30, 2009 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

Incident number two in York Pa.. ON the same street. Today is March 30,2009 My son black… and two of his friends one white were riding down our block to drop my son off. A police officer stopped them. The driver rolled through a stop sign. The same officer who shot my older son with a stun gun in the article previously written by me.  Read the above.  He asked them did you know your ran a stop sign.. One of the kids said no…. He asked the driver for his driver’s license and registration,and he gave it to the officer. He then asked if they had any weapons or cntriband or BOMBS in the car thats right Bombs…..AS IF.. How many teenagers randomly drive around with Bombs in their cars a show of hands please.  THEY SAID NO….. HE THEN ASKED MY SON TO STEP OUT OF THE CAR.. THEN THEY Propted him up against THE TRUCK AND STARTED SEARCHING HIM. Then he asked the other black passenger if he could step out of the car patted him down too. He asked if there was anything in the car they both said no. Another cop came to the car,and seached the inside of the car… but, there was nothing in it.. He then said he doesnt want them to get into trouble.. What da ? does that mean..,The Fact still remains he made them sit on the curb ran their names ,and searched them..
This is the same officer who stun gunned my son. for walking up to his home in a neighborhood that the officer thought my child didint live simply because he was black ..
These officers are still making routine stops of the youth in my area black, latin and hispanic youth. This is ridicoulous.  I am scared for the lives of youth and people of color where i live. These officers are really making it hard on the youth of color.  Where does it stop? These incidents took place in less than 7 months time I have three sons all of color.. I willkeep you posted as to their incidents I have resorted to adding a mini web cam to my car to monitor the actions of the authorites while being stopped ...MY family and I will be moving soon the racism in this area is scary ....This is what you go through for a simple traffic stop if your a person of color in York City Pa I will keep you informed..

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By aw, March 20, 2009 at 9:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In 1964 I served 2 years in a Pa. “reform school” in the judges’ words “for my own good” because I was “incorrigible”. I was not convicted of any crime!Judge Beaster (sp?) later served 10 in the pen for railroading many children into these “private scools” for kickbacks.
This really screwed up my life.
So this is not a new situation in PA.

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By Alicia Lacy-Parker, March 14, 2009 at 2:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have three sons. African american males. We live in York City in Pa. We moved from Mayland to Pa,and have been here for about two years now. My oldest son and his friend were havng a disagreement in the front of our home on a Saturday night. One of my neighbors called the police. When they arrived my son and his friend were still having words with one another back and fourth. My sons friend told the police that there was nothing wrong and to please leave.  One of the officers asked him are you sure he then said yes I am sure. My son told them to please leave them be,and that he was going in the house. We live in a decent neighborhood. When he started walking up to our home the officer said do you live there he said I am going home man..As he opened the door the police said holt. He yelled it. My husband and I were in the bed but we heard the officer. We heard loud popps. We jumped out of our beds and ran to the front door to find my son laying on the floor screming Ma tell them who I am and that I live here. They shot him 3 times with a stun gun he was crying and screaming he could not move. The officer said mam is this your son I said yes. That is my child his friend said Miss Alicia I told them we was alright but they shot him with the stun gun any way as he was walking into the house. They lifted my son off the ground my husband said hold on where are you talking him,and what exactly did he do? They said he was disturbing the peace. They sat in their cars for 45 minutes before sayig that they would not give him a disturbing the peace charge,but that he had a warrant for driving tickets that they would be taking hiim to jail for.  I was pissed. I am from Maryland we dont lock people up for unpaid tickets. The officers came in my home looking at my husband and myself like they didnt know that black people lived on our block.  I felt like my sons rights as well mine were violated. I have good pretty decnt kids ,not bad ones. The police in York sometimes act like they can’t relate to the youth here Black and Latino youth that is,and I had to teach my sons early to get badge numbers ask police their names as they have been harassed plenty of times since we moved to this town. I moved into the city from York county. I was profiled while driving our Chevy Lumina. I told my son that I was testing them. I put on a red base ball cap and sat low in my seat and he was sitting up bopping his head to DMX.. sure enough I got stopped.  When the officer got to the car he was amazed that I was a woman. I asked him why I got stopped.. He said I had a inspection tag that was to expire in 1 month. That he saw from 200 feet. NO.. he stopped me because he thought I was on of my kids who are balck and new to the area and they were fishing to see if they could make an arrest or cause an incident. Since I have been here in Pa I have experinced racism on the job by hearing others refer to african americans as colored,and I work for a major corporation. I was sent to the office in hickvilles usa to divert and bring diversity to their work force,but sometimes people say things that make me realize racism still exsist. I am the daughter of an Air Force One Steward. I grew up in Washington Dc,and Baltimore. I have been all around the world too. This Place is like no other I have been too. Wost than down south.  Black people in PA need to stand up for what is right or all of our children will be locked up. I am not scared to fight for what is right,and even though Obama is President guess what we still got a long way to go. I decided to try to start my own business to give more people in an under developed York Pa a chance at making decent money to empower thenselves. Right now in York there are not any higher paying jobs. I looked.. How do you exspect people to change if they make 8.00 hrly.,or is stuck in a warehouse for life. WE NEED TO MAKE A CHANGE Join your local Naacp we need more groups here for people of color.

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By Sherman, March 10, 2009 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is wrong to be treated like that in this society. And people dont think that much of it because it is very common in this world today.

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By lashay owens, March 10, 2009 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

i think that what they did in this mini passage was very wrong. if they put everybody that has a petty fight like that than almost the whole world would be locked up. you should not go to jail for that and then the girl had to be on peals!!OH NO! i cant do that thats crazy all cause of a petty old fight. the killa part about it is that their only 14 and you getting sent to jail for a slap and with no witnesses thats crazy man i swear.

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By Cavett Maynie, March 10, 2009 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I was in a situation like many kids that have been posting just like me.I was locked up for something I didnt do.How it is is once you get in it its your word against the police and 9 times out of 10 the police will win.

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By Eugene McGraw, March 10, 2009 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I totally agree, because my uncle was a police officer of CHA police. He was wrongly accused of a conspiracy because he was the only officer to show himself in court. This wont cease until government is completely different.

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By bevber, March 10, 2009 at 5:39 am Link to this comment

I have a similar situation in Delaware County Pennsylvania.  My son has been locked up for two years when my husband and I were trying to teach our child a lesson.  Now two years later he is still locked up.  He was being very distructive in the home but was really ok in school and outside the home.  Now he has many issues that have gotten worse I feel because of the enviornment that he has been placed in over the last two years.  I don’t know if this is something that can be looked into or not.  It really seems that these judges are more interested in locking these kids up rather then listening to the parents.  I know there are some kids that really should be placed but I feel there are many that have good homes and good parents that are placed in programs for years because the juvenile courts and probation departments think if the kids are locked up they don’t have to deal with them.

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By VOR1994, March 3, 2009 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

PRIVATIZATION - That is the cause.  People should not be allowed to make a profit off imprisoning other people, let alone children.

I bet they made a profit off the un-necessary drugs that they forced upon the kids too.

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By chaosgoblyn, February 26, 2009 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Treason. Not 7 years in prison, which will likely be shortened. This is treason. They betrayed a life for their own gain, hang them. On national television.

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By PlanetaryWitness, February 26, 2009 at 1:03 am Link to this comment

OMG! Have people of this country really come to this? Why is there even a question of such matters as “right or wrong?” to encarcerate our children as a commodity? What have we become? Is there no humanity left in the HuMan psyche; no heart left in HuManity?? Is there no soul left to speak of? When did children become a legal commodity to such magnitude that there is even a question? Perhaps when we began to believe in money as our “God”?
And why are we surprised to find that our children are violent? We have fed their minds with violent trash via television, movies, music, advertising, and games, and our own behaviors. We have violated their beingness with drugs (both legal and street), we have turned our heads to their needs in exchange for larger pay checks, and our “adult” communities have pushed them aside as unimportant in exchange for conveniences in our “self-important” daily lives, never minding that we are the example by which they have to learn…
SHAME…so much SHAME upon the American culture! So much pettyness in place of our future (children) and then to ask “why?” Worse still, not even to ask, only to judge, and without wisdom or even common sense. If we don’t stand up for our children now, we will suffer the consequences ourselves directly…as our children ARE US in the future! AND DON’T think this kind of injustice (bad “AUTHORITIES”) is reserved for children, poor folks, other “vulnerables”, and “anyone but me”! This is what we ALL can look forward to if HuManity doesn’t pull it’s head out of it’s own…and start loving itself, all of us being ONE thing…HuManity; standing up for itself and gaining some self respect before selling itself out to fear, greed, and self importance! Try typing rex 84 into your search engine and see what comes up! You think this can’t happen to you??

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By purplewolf, February 22, 2009 at 12:55 am Link to this comment

folktruther: Your comment about prison guard mentality; Perhaps you were not aiming it at me. Just to let you know, I was a female guard in a medium security with one housing unit for maximum security, all male prison. We were not armed and often worked solo. BTW the inmates outnumbered us about 62 to 1, so unless you have had a one-on-one experience in this type of situation, the comment is invalid. We had men from their late teens to seniors. No young kids at that time were placed into prison situations in my state then or now.

I am certain there are places like those you mentioned where the guards have “that mentality”. I have heard of the stereo typical ones in the southern states, whether they exist,I cannot say they do from my own experience. I do know that if a person is to hard core by the book or over bearing on the inmates, they go out of their way to give a guard a hard time, or if they can rattle those who are intimidated easily. If you can be more human with these people, they tend to realize you are just doing a job. And actually this may come as a surprise to you, but the guards do not run most the prisons, the inmates do. They allow you to come in and work and “play the game”, because really, when you are outnumbered anywhere form 50 inmates plus to 1 guard, who do you really think do runs the place?

There are corrupt judges, guards, police and other members of the legal system, just like there are in almost every profession you could think of. These judges need to be locked up to the maximum for their crimes and fined for all the monies they took from the system while working and all the cases they decided over, reheard by another judges only find honest people for these jobs, I am certain there are many honorable people who could do these jobs.

I believe part of this “dishonest” work ethic problems we have seem boom in the last several years has been to the privatization frenzy pushed by the former president and his cronies. No bid contracts, privatize everything, are just a few things that has lead to this disaster. It is time to correct the errors from the last several years and start to heal the wounds that have been inflicted from the evil and greed of who those who have caused this mess.

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By GaryA, February 22, 2009 at 12:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

MarthaA,

You still don’t get it, do you? Well, there’s nothing to be done.

Try reading Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” Would you scold him?

GaryA

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By MarthaA, February 21, 2009 at 11:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

GaryA:

What you’ve stated is definitely a sentiment of RIGHT-WING conservatism and I am a liberal.  I am of the opinion that resources from society should be used to help all, not just for a few conservatives to live extravagantly.

Of course, trapping and locking young people up as supposed miscreants for economic profit would be better than killing and eating them, like Ed Geen and Hannibal Lecter, M.D.; but one would think that in a civil society of dynamic choices, like the United States, a poor person who works and raises their children would be able to look forward to having more choices for their children when they grow up than whether or not they are imprisoned or served on a conservatives menu.  The “Little Match Girl”, that Hans Christian Anderson writes about was neither imprisoned for profit nor put on a menu, when her parents couldn’t support her, nobody else could support her either and she was just left to die.  Sad story.  Apparently today there are some conservatives who apparently have chosen not to eat the common population’s young or help them amount to something; but feel they should be used as a resource for profit in our capitalist society.  No matter how you slice it, it is uncivil and disgusting, but better than being frozen or eaten.  I have faith that the government of the United States will seek to have better choices and make a way so that children, whatever their background, will have a chance to grow up and fulfill their God-given potential.

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By GaryA, February 20, 2009 at 11:34 pm Link to this comment

MarthaA wrote,

“Bush didn’t see the humor in Stephen’s satire, and neither did I in yours, if that is what you meant it to be.”

Well, that explains it, doesn’t it? It appears you share the same difficulty appreciating irony with the most formidable intellect ever to sit in the White House.

I suppose you didn’t think Jonathan Swift’s idea of eating babies that were born to the poor was such a swell idea, either, eh?

But, hey, I’m much kinder than Swift, who might have advocated grilling young miscreants medium rare on football Sundays. Rather than roasting them, which only slakes the appetite temporarily, I favor locking them up indefinitely so we can continue to profit by them, day after day.

Eat your fellow man and you’re fed for a day. Make your fellow man feed you, and you eat for life.

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By MarthaA, February 20, 2009 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

GaryA:

I try never to miss Stephen Colbert’s or Jon Stewart’s show.  Sadly, they are the only real news on television and I love both shows; always wish they were longer.  Their shows always get over way too soon.

It is best for you to be yourself and quit trying to be Stephen Colbert, because you failed IMHO.  Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are both gifted, but apparently Bush didn’t see the humor in Stephen’s satire, and neither did I in yours, if that is what you meant it to be.

I would be interested to know what Colbert and Stewart have to say about this rampant abuse of young people, since courts kidnapping kids and using them for economic stimulus is getting to be the going thing in more places than PA.

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By GaryA, February 20, 2009 at 6:30 pm Link to this comment

MarthaA wrote:

“By MarthaA, February 18 at 1:51 pm #
(Unregistered commenter)

“GaryA:

“Amy does look on the bright side, but reporting only the bright side is not journalism.

“Commoditizing people as prisoners for profit.  Young men and women should not be used to keep all those private prisons’ personnel gainfully employed.  That is NOT the reason for prisons.  If jail and/or prison is the only way of keeping gainful employment, then we need to REBOOT the System ...  have determined that you, GaryA, are a REPUBLICAN EXTREME ANARCHIST.

Apparently, you think it is better to give all the country’s money for CORPORATE WELFARE and small FOREIGN CORPORATE WARS; instead of public education, because if it weren’t for CORPORATE WELFARE and FOREIGN CORPORATE WARS there wouldn’t be so many problems in the 1st place, and jails/prisons wouldn’t even be thought of as a means of economic survival… .”

Alas, Martha appears not to have quite got my message. Fortunately, not everyone missed it. “Nestoffour,” for instance. did.

He wrote:

“By nestoffour, February 19 at 7:11 am #


“i think a couple of you simply missed the sarcasm in GaryA’s post.”

And “LeslieL’s” reaction was exactly what I’d hoped for.

He/she wrote:
“By LeslieL, February 19 at 11:10 am #
(Unregistered commenter)

“GaryA:  Thanks for your satire.  All I wanted to do when I read Amy’s article was cry, and you helped the pain.”

I’d love to know what what MarthaA thinks of Stephen Colbert!

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By Nancy Hey, February 20, 2009 at 3:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree that privatizing the jails is a bad idea.  The only part of this article that I disagree with is the statement:  “Congress is considering legislation to improve juvenile justice policy, legislation the American Civil Liberties Union says is “built on the clear evidence that community-based programs can be far more successful at preventing youth crime than the discredited policies of excessive incarceration.”
 
Unfortunately this puts more power in the hands of the judges, the exact opposite of what is needed,  oversight.  State-funded means that the system can do anything to the child and the parents without anyone knowing. 

The best way to prevent juvenile delinquency is to empower PARENTS to have the primary role in the upbringing of their children.

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By Rodger Lemonde, February 20, 2009 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our most prominent citizens have long been under served by our prison system. We need to start redressing this situation. We have politicians, judges, and financiers that all should be sent to jail so they may enjoy the fruits of their labor in building this misbegotten system. These judges are just a start.

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By oobi, February 20, 2009 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

History repeats itself.

http://www.psychbusters.net/index.php? option=com_content&task=view&id=16&Itemid=28

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By Walter, February 20, 2009 at 8:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jail those judges for locking up kids for just a kid’s prank.  Shame on them.  Disbar those good for nothing judges and throw them in jail for a long time.  They should have known better. 

The state should close down those juvenile prisons.  Kids who commit minor offenses should be getting counseling time not jail time.  The whole state of Pennsylvania has lost its equilibrium regarding the safety and care of its young people.  Pennsylvanians should rise up and do something about if the state drag its feet.

WQC

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By Children Rights, February 19, 2009 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This needs to stop and come to an end. There need to be an investigation on the Judges in question and justice needs to be served. This is happening all over the US, and our children are the future. How can our children be the futre if they are being legally kidnapped, and falsely accused of wrong doing to benefit the Judges and DHS Workers pockets with money?

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By mjt01, February 19, 2009 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

Somebody says the “Criminals are winning.” Someone who calls herself a hippy. I have never The only thing they seem to be winning is prison time. I wonder what nation she is in. While there are localized differences, crimes of violence are down, way down. Crimes of theft and larceny are down. The only crimes that are up in our nation are white collar crimes, governmental crimes, Law Enforcement Officer crimes, Geneva Convention crimes, corporate crimes, and so on.

Punishments are up, often sounding like a game of Backgammon. Doubled and redoubled. Fines and costs so severe that they can not be paid without the paroles committing even more crimes. But this applies only to the so called real criminal element. Their crimes are usually punished in ways that are way beyond what is appropriate for their actions. But white collar crimes, corporate crimes, LEO crimes, governmental crimes are either ignored, settled for time served or given sentences that are not commensurate with the great damage done.

Madoff stole 50 billion dollars. How much damage did this do to retirees, charities and other innocents? What punishment could be fitting for the enormous number of people he has damaged—life would be inadequate. But he is not even in jail, he is at home. And even when the DA demonstrates that he continues to steal while on house arrest, he is allowed to remain at home.

Our whole system of adjudication and punishment is bizarre. It feasts on the weak while doing its best to ignore the rich and powerful.

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By wildflower, February 19, 2009 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment

Re Chill’ Post: “Why do we have so many people in positions of power in the country abusing their positions of power? Whether it be the CEO, the judge, the sherrif, the politician, etc, etc.”

I dunno . . . Because they’ve had Bush/Cheney as role models?

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By LeslieL, February 19, 2009 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

GaryA:  Thanks for your satire.  All I wanted to do when I read Amy’s article was cry, and you helped the pain.

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By Folktruther, February 19, 2009 at 11:53 am Link to this comment

Like Omniadeo, I am also shocked by the comments on this article. The War on Terrorism, the War on Drugs, and the War on Crime has appeared to have created a death culture which finds it acceptable that it is to the finacial interests of judges to imprison children for minor or no offense.  This American death culture has created the largest prison population in the world, and appraently there is sentiment to want more people imprisoned.

This is a culture that supports a militarized police state.  Which is being installed.  A hundred mile perimeter around the border of the US, containing two thirds of the American people, are now what the ACLU calls a “Contitution Free Zone.”  The racist and anti-immigration sentiment of the American people supports stopping, harassing, and trialess imprisonment within this Perimeter Zone.

Apparently this makes people with a prison guard mentality feel secure.  The most vnerable and powerless are most affected, including children.  Like Omniadeo, I am startled by the blatant hatred of children and the glee at repressing them.  This goes far to explaining why there have been 20 13 year olds in the US who have been sentenced to life without parole.

I didn’t realize that this fear, hatred and oppresion of children was so prevalent.  So much so that it slops over to pseudo-progressives.

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By mud, February 19, 2009 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

More fun with the “war” on (some) drugs.

Dr. Robert DuPont, one of the leading authorities on drug addiction in the U.S., recently told ABC’s 20/20 he was shocked to learn the U.S. air force encourages, if not mandates, the use of amphetamines for its pilots. “People who get strung out on amphetamines are … usually crazy,” DuPont said. “They’re paranoid, they stop eating … Their judgment is impaired and they do very bad things … They are the sickest of all drug addicts.”

http://www.crystalrecovery.com/News/News6.html

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By mud, February 19, 2009 at 10:12 am Link to this comment

No mention how many of these kids were incarcerated for smoking pot. Bet its over 50% but no mention because chucking kids in prison to save them from the evil weed is considered appropriate even if it screws their little brains over a thousand time more then pot ever could.

There must something “real” at the root of continued prohibitionist mentalities.

“Legislators in Upstate New York are fighting changes to drug sentencing laws because it would reduce their voting power. They need the prisoners to count as residents.

http://tinyurl.com/dchokm

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By Chill, February 19, 2009 at 10:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I find it interesting that a few people posting on here tout there experience as some how more legit than the next person(as far as who knows these teens better and their motives).  That’s not the issue here.  The issue is “Why do we have so many people in positions of power in the country abusing their positions of power?”

Whether it be the CEO, the judge, the sherrif, the politician, etc, etc.  There is a bigger paradigm issue here that needs to shift.  This culture and the mentality that creates people to choose corruption, hate and money over the common good is a huge problem.  Can we shift this mentality?  How?

This story truly saddens me.  The ridiculous chatter of some on this board saddens me too.  Check your ego at the door and let’s try to find some answers and a way out of this downward spiral towards destruction for all. 

PEACE OUT!

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By pervasive collusion, February 19, 2009 at 8:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is one of many court corruption scandals waiting to be exposed.  It is interesting that several groups were sounding alarm bells for over a year-and it took the feds to get them on tax fraud.

It shows the oversight is broken and ineffective as well.  What about the D.A. who knew these cases were not being handled well- or the court administrators- this could not have happened without large scale cooperation and collusion.

It should not take years or even a year to unseat judges guilty of enslaving children.  People need to take a hard look at what is going on in our court systems- and know that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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By nestoffour, February 19, 2009 at 8:11 am Link to this comment

i think a couple of you simply missed the sarcasm in GaryA’s post.

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By Margaret Currey, February 19, 2009 at 7:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Even back in the fifties when you lived in a small town and your father drank too much school put a label on you especially if your family was poor and large.

I was looked at as different because most people in small towns are of a certain nationality and if you do not fit the immage you are destined to hell.

I left the mind set of the east coast because it is not much different from England’s tale called “Oliver Twist” you are at fault if you are poor.

This thing was a happening waiting until “hard Times come a knocking at the door”.

And as this economy gets worse so will the tales of abuse of children.

Even in the state of Oregon they are talking about taking back school days in the year.

The powers that be already want to put children on drugs to keep them like zombies what will these children grow up to be they will be drug dependent adults who will die young.

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By hippy pam, February 19, 2009 at 7:19 am Link to this comment

reply to omniadeo….one god?????? omni=one…..a=a…..deo=god…?????....
    You got me wrong…..I know the cops/laws/courts/judges are corrupt….I know-because the CRIMINALS ARE WINNING….Our system IS NOT set up in fairness for THE VICTIMS.If it were?......I could drill the little punks and not get in trouble…Kinda like the OLDE WEST….When the “bad guy” made enough problems-he was PUT OUT OF EVERYONE ELSES MISERY….
    Many of these kids get in to the system due to PARENTAL FAILURE.Parents have lost control.Before you jump on that-let me explain-I’m not talking about BEATING A CHILD FOR CONTROL or MEANESS-or DRUNKENESS.I AM SAYING…-..KNOW WHERE YOUR KIDS ARE-KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING and WITH WHOM.TEACH THEM MANNERS AND RESPECT FOR OTHERS-because once the system has them in it’s clutches,they are TOAST…Because the system has to take their impotency out on someone….And the kids[and parents] are mostly DECENT LAW ABIDING FOLK who can’t fight back…..
    BUT THE GANG BANGERS[which not all but most] of our young people IDOLIZE-after all-who wouldn’t want to be RICH and POWERFUL?-....CAN AND WILL find out where the judge lives/kids go to school/wife gets her hair done…...AND RETALIATE…..
    So any one-not just kids-running INTO problems with LAW usually-unless the COP/SHERIFF/JUDGE IS “CLEAN”-gets SHAFTED…...In other words-the LAW says-I don’t dare mess with THEM but I sure CAN MESS WITH YOU…..Cuz you are a PE-ON…You can’t fight back…

Thanks Purplewolf….You know I live 2 miles from the scene of the CLIO RD. SHOOTOUT…..[No-I did not get a T-shirt]

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By Outraged, February 19, 2009 at 2:37 am Link to this comment

Is it me…? Or is anyone else starting to notice that the FBI, not necessarily the ATF of course, I wouldn’t “necessarily” (depends where you live…I guess) rule them out, Federal Marshals, the select communities with police and/or sheriffs’ of integrity and a portion of our armed forces are the ones protecting this country at this critical moment.

I would especially (at least by personal observation) note that the FBI has been outstanding regarding corporate crime and its many incarnations.

The investigations and lawsuits are in their infancy….. let us see, who is who… I’m good with that.

My thanks to ALL who put their lives on the line, I include journalists, bloggers and many “commenters” in this as well.  Hey… if nothing else, I’ll see ya’ in the hoosegow.

Be Smart. Hang tough. AND NEVER GIVE UP THE SHIP.

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By diamond, February 19, 2009 at 1:33 am Link to this comment

There’s a simple way to stop this kind of corruption: any judge caught taking bribes should be fined $1,000,000 and if he can’t pay he should have to go and spend time in one of those prisons he’s so fond of sending other people’s kids to. The first mistake you made in America was having sherrifs and people at the lower levels of the law elected. It’s like asking for corruption, in terms of money for favours and electoral support which then eats away at the lower levels of the law and then slowly spreads upwards, until it reaches the judges and then the lawmakers themselves. Which it has. Privatizing the prisons has made a bad situation worse. Ruthless, greedy fools then find numerous ways to cash in on other people’s vulnerability and misfortune as they literally profit from crime. What incentive do any of these corrupt individuals have to take an interest in crime prevention? It would be like destroying their own profitability.Any kid in trouble (or not in trouble) is then simply reduced to a business opportunity. It puts me in mind of Burke and Hare, the poverty stricken 19th century Scots, who killed people to sell them to the medical profession for dissection.  You know the saying ‘Rust never sleeps’? Neither does corruption. Everyone has it but not everyone admits it and deals with it and some people have a system that makes it inevitable. Look at Italy: the mafia had to blow up Falcone, the anti-mafia judge, before the people rose up in rage and demanded something be done. In the end it won’t change unless the people demand it of their government. Corruption can reach a stage of such toxicity that it can bring down the state. It can make a country ungovernable. I fear America is drifting into that situation. I remember reading about the politicians in Louisiana who used to calculate how many jails to build by how many kids dropped out of school. Of course, they did nothing to address the problem of kids dropping out of school. That would have been a bad business plan.

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By omniadeo, February 18, 2009 at 11:57 pm Link to this comment

purplewolf,

You may know Hippy Pam. Great. I know only one thing about her: she read an article about Judges who took money to convict kids and send them to prison for slapping. You yourself say that the kids in your area are “not the little slap on the face type, as the girl in this story.” And yet Hippy Pam had only criticism of these girls.

For the record, I have lived in East Oakland and within spitting distance of housing projects in another city during the worst crack epidemic years of the 80s and early 90s. They tore those projects down becasue they were war zones. I taught school to kids who came to school with knives. I have seen bodies in the streets on more than one occasion.

That experience has exactly zero to do with this article, as does Hippy Pam’s notions of the children in her neighborhoods or her own upbringing.

Those judges are monsters and anyone who would go off on the kids involved after reading about them needs to have a long talk with her own psyche.

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By omniadeo, February 18, 2009 at 11:40 pm Link to this comment

I do not watch any mainstream TV news. I am wondering if anyone has seen any reports on this there.

I am absolutely aghast at some of the comments on this page. I still hold some slight hope that Gary A is a satirist in the Swiftian “A Modest Proposal” tradition, but then again maybe not.

Hippy Pam, do you really think 2 fourteen year olds should go to prison for slapping each other?  Some hippy. I hope you do not have children.

BUt this story is the most shocking of all:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/13/us/13judge.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&em;
A kid, a good student who has never been in trouble, makes fun of her HS administrator and is jailed for 3 months? And it took a Fed prosecutor to get to the bottom of it?

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By purplewolf, February 18, 2009 at 11:31 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther: Your comment pertaining to Hippy Pam.  Never underestimate what you think you know, you are wrong. Having known her for a long time, the exact opposite is true.

We both come from one of the most violent cities in the country. The kids who commit crimes in our area are not the little slap on the face type, as the girl in this story. If they think you have dissed them, they come back after you with loaded guns in most cases. These kids are more into violence to handle what they perceive a slight against them rather than talk it out to even see if they may be in error of what actually occurred. I worked as a prison guard for the state and this mentality was commonplace. Rather guns, stabbings, arson, are the most common way to solve things and we are known for drive-by shooting in our city, all too common in our area. These kids glorify the criminal element and lifestyle over education. There are a few, very few who have managed to escape that mindset, but all to often we experience the complete opposite. These kids today are not taught discipline and personal responsibility, something that was once taught in the home and school systems in the 50’s and 60’s when we attended school. I hate the fact that my tax dollars are wasted on those who refuse to even try to learn or do something positive with their lives, become someone who can be looked up to as a positive role model. I don’t think as a society we ask enough of our students or young people now-a-days. The fact that our school systems have lowered the GPA to 2.0 has not helped either. This compounds the problems more.

We had a melee last summer with several hundred people, all ages and several shooting in that event. They even printed up t-shirts bragging about it:“I survived the Clio Road shoot out, or drive by,” depending on who you bought your shirt from. So if you think that she is afraid you are mistaken. If that were the case, most of us would leave the area and live in a safer place. Like jcbrap and BTW the last 4 yrs,we ranked #3, #1, #1 and #2 for the most violent city in America in magazines, TV new reports, local newspaper and then airways. Nothing to be proud about. We even beat out Detroit and New York City.

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By mud, February 18, 2009 at 6:01 pm Link to this comment

ASAP: Mandatory drug testing for all judges, cops, and ALL elected officials from the Pres. on down. We want hair tests, blood tests and pee tests. We want random supervised tests. We want ALL drugs tested and we want these drug test results to be made public.

Forget testing bus drivers. These judges and elected officials can and do do far more harm and need tested regularly and continually.

Lets see how that flies. Good for the goose…

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By MarthaA, February 18, 2009 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

GaryA:

Amy does look on the bright side, but reporting only the bright side is not journalism.

Commoditizing people as prisoners for profit.  Young men and women should not be used to keep all those private prisons’ personnel gainfully employed.  That is NOT the reason for prisons.  If jail and/or prison is the only way of keeping gainful employment, then we need to REBOOT the System.

How honorable could jail/prison employees be who use people that have been trapped as their means of making a living?  It is like Ward Churchill’s “little tiny Eichmans”.  Eichman was the logistic person who made certain the people Hitler had chosen to kill made it to the furnaces to be burned alive and on time.  Hitler could never have gotten his murdering job done without Eichman.  Of course, Eichman had to pay the price after the war, and these little Eichmans should as well.

It is not man’s right to take another person’s rights away.  The fact that one is poor now means that one must keep a very low profile to avoid being used as fodder for the prison mill.

Lincoln could have been trapped if he had lived in this day and time, and would never have been able to become President of the United States. 

The fact that these children were convicted means that their parents were poor and didn’t have the means to pay an attorney, along with all the fines and costs.  Actually very few people of the 70% MAJORITY COMMON POPULATION are able to afford an extra $5,000. or more to rescue a family member; which doesn’t in any way mean the child deserved being jailed or imprisoned, it only means the system is set up to abuse the vulnerable.

I have determined that you, GaryA, are a REPUBLICAN EXTREME ANARCHIST.

Apparently, you think it is better to give all the country’s money for CORPORATE WELFARE and small FOREIGN CORPORATE WARS; instead of public education, because if it weren’t for CORPORATE WELFARE and FOREIGN CORPORATE WARS there wouldn’t be so many problems in the 1st place, and jails/prisons wouldn’t even be thought of as a means of economic survival.

Your argument really sounds like a good argument for the concentration camp industry of the Nazi’s.  You may want to run it past the Jews, the Russians and all the rest of the 21 MILLION lives that were lost to Hitler’s industrial efforts of commoditizing people as prisoners for profit. 

All effort must be used to stop the commoditizing of people as prisoners for profit in the United States.  It is outrageous that such a dispicable Nazi practice has gotten a foothold in the United States, therefore it is imperative that all states be investigated thoroughly because this practice must not be allowed to continue. 

I tell you what, GaryA, some of the relatives of the 21 MILLION prisoners for profit may be interested in your views.  Make sure that you use your own name and spell it correctly, because I am certain that you will want to get in touch with every one of them; and I have a feeling that some of them will want to get in touch with you.

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By Folktruther, February 18, 2009 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

The American people do not realize how oppressive and corrupt the American power system has become because of the truth inversion of the mainstream media.  the reality-based truth is the exact opposite of the implied mainstream truth.  The function of the War on Terrorism is to INCREASE terrorism, which it has done.  The War on Drugs has INCREASED drug addiciton. And the War on Crime has INCREASED the amount of crime in the US.

Truth inversion is a consequence of commodifying terror, drugs and crime.  The powerful make money from weapons, drugs and incarcerating the largest proportion of its population of any other country in the world.  When addicts, who make up half the prison population, are given horrendous sentences, they are now given huge fines as well, which they have no way of repaying.

They therefore work for pennies an hour for private firms.  Increasingly prison slave labor is replacing the rental slavery of capitalism since the profits are so much greater.  And of course prisons are increasingly a profit making enterprise, funded by the state. In 1970 the amount of money for higher education was twice that of prisons in California.  Over time the exact inverse occurred and the prison population has soared, soaking up much more money.

As has been pointed out ad nauseum, it would be much cheaper to treat addiction medically. Of course it would be cheaper, but it would be much less profitable.  So the Limbarghers and other sleazoids who purport to defend the American population from Criminals demand huge sentences for minor offenses, and barbaric penalities.  The US has sentenced twenty 13 year olds to life without parole, often on trumped up charges and non-capital crimes.  Black boys raping White women.

And Americans like Hippy Pam are in favor of them.  This is not simply because she is unintelligent and can’t generalize beyond her personal situation. She is afraid and fear tends to regress reason and emphasize emotional truths.  Which power systems use to manipulate people like Hippy Pam to increase the prison population, trade in drugs, and support military and police violence and coercion.

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By diamond, February 18, 2009 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

As I’ve said on other sites, many times, the American legal system is a sewer. It was more or less an accident going somewhere to happen and it happened in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

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By MarthaA, February 18, 2009 at 11:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think this is going on pretty much all over the country to protect Cheney’s stock in the private jails.  I know my college grandson, who has never got into any kind of trouble at all, EVER, got picked up in Vinita, OK where the police, DA & judge didn’t have a problem trumping up a charge that was unbelievable, and tried to send my grandson to prison for 5 years.  Remember this is the 1st charge—NEVER BEEN CHARGED WITH ANYTHING EVER BEFORE.  We got a good attorney who was able to get him off this very 1st offense but not without making money for the county, because the judge held out for making him serve 1 year’s probation, with a lot of fines, and they make him pay $20/mo. to take their drug pee test.  They told him he asked too many questions.  Whatever they say when they grab you, one either has to agree with or defend against, and he did not agree with them.  One of the arresting policemen taunted him with, “Trying to hold on to your lifeline, are you?”—this too me is an eerie thing to say, as if he got enjoyment out of grabbing unsuspecting people for trumped up charges to put them away in jail.  Now, my grandson’s probation is nearly over, and we will certainly be thankful that it is over, but do not believe he should have been treated so harshly in the 1st place on a 1st offense.  Since my grandson was told on their first test of his pee that they found drugs, he took another test at a lab and it showed nothing, has since taken two tests each time, their test plus one at home before he goes, then if theirs shows drugs, then he also goes to the lab to insure they do not continue to trap him.  Between court costs, community service, court clerk and drug tests, he will have had to pay the Craig County court system a total of $4,720. by the time he is finished with their prescribed probation, which puts quite a bit of money into the county’s till, and would have put most unsuspecting persons behind bars.  Jail time has become a racket using the poor.

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By J D Smith, February 18, 2009 at 10:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I refer all reader’s who mistakenly believe the US Public Education system has the interest of students or parents in mind to John Taylor Gatto’s THE UNDERGROUND HISTORY OF AMERICAN EDUCATION. The link below provides the entire book for reading on line.

http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/toc1.htm

Mr. Gatto was an award winning teacher in the NYC system who had given up a successful career in business to become a teacher.  He eventually gave up that second career in disgust.

Read!

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By MarthaA, February 18, 2009 at 10:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think this is going on pretty much all over the country to protect Cheney’s stock in the private jails.  I know my college grandson, who has never got into any kind of trouble at all, EVER, got picked up in Vinita, OK where the police, DA & judge didn’t have a problem trumping up a charge that was unbelievable, and tried to send my grandson to prison for 5 years.  Remember this is the 1st charge—NEVER BEEN CHARGED WITH ANYTHING EVER BEFORE.  We got a good attorney who was able to get him off this very 1st offense but not without making money for the county, because the judge held out for making him serve 1 year’s probation, with a lot of fines, and they make him pay $20/mo. to take their drug pee test.  They told him he asked too many questions.  Whatever they say when they grab you, one either has to agree with or defend against, and he did not agree with them.  One of the arresting policemen taunted him with, “Trying to hold on to your lifeline, are you?”—this too me is an eerie thing to say, as if he gets enjoyment out of grabbing unsuspecting people for trumped up charges to put them away in jail.  Now, my grandson’s probation is nearly over, and we will certainly be thankful that it is over, but do not believe he should have been treated so harshly in the 1st place for a 1st offense.  Since my grandson was told on their first test of his pee that they found drugs, he took another test at a lab and it showed nothing, has since taken two tests each time, their test plus one at home before he goes, then if theirs shows drugs, then he also goes to the lab to insure they do not continue to trap him.  Between court costs, community service, court clerk and drug tests, he will have had to pay the Craig County court system a total of $4,720. by the time he is finished with their prescribed probation, which puts quite a bit of money into the county’s till, and would have put most unsuspecting persons behind bars, because there is also the attorney’s fees.  Jail time has become a racket using the poor.

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By sheber, February 18, 2009 at 9:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I read an interesting analysis in which, by definition, these judges are actually guilty of CHILD TRAFFICKING!
http://www.chycho.com/?q=node/2200

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By Purple Girl, February 18, 2009 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

Sociologically we must ask ourselves why are Our kids are becoming more violent and Why are we so ready to incarcerate even the not so violent.
Education, opportunity and Money.
Our education system has been steadily derailed over the last few decades. Again privatization has done nothing to stem this trend.When urban schools can’t afford enough books, but privatized schools can update computer systems- something is seriously wrong. I’m 45 and when I was still in school, programs were beginning to be dropped- first music and art, then sports. Even alterative programs to help keep at risk kids attending were in danger of extinction.And I lived in an Affluent “lilly white” ‘burb’!Over 26 yrs and millions of dollars less, who should be surprised that our kids have turned to drugs and violence to survive.Now with this inevitable economic meltdown, what opprtunities could they possibly perceive for themselves in the future. The Urban schools were the Canary in the Coalmine back then, now even our ‘Burb’ schools are dropping kids potentials like flies.
What is so shortsighted are the parents who either choose home schooling or private schools- do they think they can maintain this ‘island’ mentality? Do they think that they can shelter their children from the realities of the world as they are in these secluded and elite schools. If you allow the majority of citizens to lower their expectations and goals, it drags down all others regardless of their education or upbringing.
Again as a child from the upper middle class ‘burbs’ with numerous opprtunities as such, I am now struggling to keep my head above water. Just because my parents were well off, does not translate into me being the same- times have changed, conditions are different out here in the real world. My greatest and most valueable education came when I stepped out from behind the protective apron of my mother, to move out on my own, to seek my own path and independence.Facing the reality of hardship and inequality the outside world truely contained.
Haven’t we through the inequity of the education already created a prison, with varying cell blocks organized according to their Group ‘colors’. Why should we be surprised by the aftermath when the gates are opened and they are all released into the General Pop.
We need to not only offer better education, but education which is open and equitable to all.A level Playing field. If you want to have your child learn Chemistry in 6th grade, Then after school teach them yourself, or get a tutor.But to deny access to a good education for every child, you guarantee your child, and our country, will have to survive in an economy more geared to the menial. A grave disservice to our descendants, and a slap in the face to our ancestors.We are the UNITED states, so that poor inner city child is just as much our concern as the affluent ‘Burb kid. Stop starving our nation (dumbing down) with scattered Educational Oasis.If a child can succeed as an engineer instead of as a drug dealer, we will all be better off having provided that opportunity.
Home Schooling and private schools are nothing more than segregated cell blocks in the same damned Sociological Prison.
These Two judges have not only committed crimes against these kids, they have committed a crime against the State.They’ve derailed their Education while Jading them about what a ‘Great’ Society is all about. Should we be surprised when some of these unjustly imprisoned kids really turn to crime in the future. Shouldn’t we be just as concerned about what they experienced, what they learned and their reaction in the future, as we are about those being held In Gitmo?

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By hippy pam, February 18, 2009 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

to jcbrap-
I live in a city which is in the top 3 worst crime cities…Every home on my street has been burgled within the last 3 years….by a group of 12-14 year olds-who go in-rip off-and run…...They are “run” by some 18-20 year old youths that the police can’t catch cuz nothing of them is ever found on the premises….And the “gang” is all underage so parents are in denial[my baby don’t do none of that]and won’t allow them to be questioned by police….
    Besides-the LAW is on the criminals side….cuz the criminal had a BAD LIFE and is MIS-UNDERSTOOD….
    I remember-I was about 7 years old-I took a piece of penny candy from the store when my grandmother went shopping.She made me return it and apologise.I learned a lesson.I NEVER TOOK another thing that was not RIGHTFULLY MINE.In other words-I learned to co-exist with the rest of the herd.
    I envy you your little plot of crime free EDEN…You may find your safe haven threatened when the economy becomes worse.

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By Jim Yell, February 18, 2009 at 7:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A classic case proving that private business taking over the responsibilities of government doesn’t improve cost efficiency or responsiveness of services. What it brings is corruption to the core and brutal disregard for responsibilities.

How this mantra of privatize can continue with such a clear message of failure is beyond reason.

Holding citizens as prisoners should never be done by private corporations. The excessive response to some peoples drug issues has made the need for prison space impossible to maintain and it is distructive to everyone in so many ways. Even to the mental health of prison guards. It is time for a new direction.

The issue should never be the ignorance of just taking drugs, but the bad behavior and if there isn’t bad behavior than it is no ones business but the individual. Of course, in the matter of health care, perhaps willful drug use that results in health decline should not be addressed by the health care system. If they don’t care about their health than why should anyone else?

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By prole, February 18, 2009 at 1:31 am Link to this comment

Ah, Goodman’s ghostwriter found a more unusual news item to replay this week, nice job Denis. “Our children need education and opportunity” - but they’re in the wrong country for that. Amerika is not about opportunity it’s about class represssion. The public schools themselves are low-intensity prisons designed to break the spirit and numb the minds of spontaneous youth and prepare them for a life of menial labor - and periodic unemployment. The schools generally do a good job of suppressing free expression and independent thinking, and when they don’t, then the prisons take over where the schools leave off. And the most important lesson to be learned from both is the one that young Jamie Quinn learned from her 11 months of false imprisonment: “It just makes me really question other authority figures and people that we’re supposed to look up to and trust.” A lesson that is invaluable in understanding the society she is imprisoned in and every authority figure in it, starting with the two-faced Barack Obama. “This scandal” of course, doesn’t “involves just one county in the U.S., and one relatively small private prison company.”  It’s a scandal within a much larger scandal. It’s indicative of the entire onerous, prisonhouse society that the U.S. has become. Those “2.1 million people currently in the nation’s prisons or jails” - and over twice that many on probation or parole - weren’t all put there by two criminal judges in PA. The astronomical incarceration rate and sentencing severity is repeated all over the country - even without the added incentive of kickbacks. No other society in the world is as punitive as the U.S. It’s another reminder of just how primitive a social system exists here. And congress has no intention of fundamentally altering it in a more humane direction. It’s an important pillar in the overall authoritarian structure of the entire state apparatus. It’s alright for authority figures and their surrogates to kick the crap out of Iraq and Afghanistan and Gaza and get a free pass, but let a boisterous child cuff a playmate and that’s a grave offense. The U.S. injustice system makes the Taleban look lenient. “The case offers an extraordinary glimpse into the shameful private prison industry” and galloping authoitarianism “that is flourishing in the United States.” And it’s hardly limited to private prisons, public prisons are barbaric hellholes, too. So one can only take some comfort in the thought of Judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan being treated to the same conditions they’ve so aggessively imposed on others, often wrongly. Unfortunately, given their loyal service to the establishment they’ll probably get special accomodations and early release. There’s a double standard by class in serving time, too. But maybe these two dissolute judges will at least pick up AIDS while they’re in the slammer. That would be some justice for the justices, anyway.

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By coloradokarl, February 18, 2009 at 12:21 am Link to this comment

The prison industrial complex is alive and well here in Colorado. Example: “community Corrections” Get a retired sheriff to put an old motel in his wife’s brother’s name then have the non-violent (Drug) offenders sentenced to “live” 6 to a room at $300 per month. Of course your “Snacks” have to come from the “canteen” that the sheriff’s cousin runs but don’t worry they only cost 3 times as much as Wal-Mart. Why can “High” priced lawyers get you off? $10,000 to the judge buys Justice. This is still the Wild West after all.

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By wildflower, February 17, 2009 at 10:29 pm Link to this comment

Re Morand’s Post: “A few thousand like him being sent to psychiatric institutions would give employment to lots of people in the mental health field as well as in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Nice thought, but I’m not sure this will work. You’re forgetting our government has also privatized the mental health industry, which means there are very few mental health services available for those in need.  Unlike the prison system, the goal here is to serve as few people as possible.  The preferred therapy method is simply to put them out on the streets where they can be beaten and robbed.

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By mieka, February 17, 2009 at 10:19 pm Link to this comment
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How did these guys get to be judges?  Were they elected?  Were they appointed?  If so, by whom?

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By marcesse, February 17, 2009 at 10:11 pm Link to this comment

this si no news to me it happens everyday in OTTAWA COUNTY, MI. The honorable Kenneth Post runs people thru the jail like ants in a ant farm.This man and the judicial system in MI needs investigation.There has to be a reason so many people goto jail for minor offenses here.

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By Mark Montgomery, February 17, 2009 at 9:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m not surprised at all. The Geo Group is a bloodsucking appendage of the discredited Bush administration. They are directly responsible for the deaths of at least 4 inmates in Texas and in Pennsylvania. Kenneth Keith Kallenbach was being held in a Geo Group jail in Pennsylvania and begged for medical attention. This was denied to him until he became comatose. The Geo Group has Mr. Kallenbach’s blood on their hands. The whole “war on drugs” is just a money-making propsition where the state conspires with private prison industries to lock up as many citizens as possible. The Geo Group should be disqualified from operating any prisons.  Mark Montgomery .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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By wildflower, February 17, 2009 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment

Excellent article, Amy. I’ve heard other stories like the ones you’ve mentioned. These for-profit prisons can only make money if their prisons are full, which means they’re going to be lobbying our politicians and seeking a “little extra assistance” from our criminal justice system.

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By morand, February 17, 2009 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Amy for your report!

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By morand, February 17, 2009 at 8:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think GaryA is on the right track:  A few thousand like him being sent to psychiatric institutions would give employment to lots of people in the mental health field as well as in the pharmaceutical industry.  It would also boost employment in hospital construction.  At the same time, people would be protected from their sociopathic behavior.

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By jcbrap, February 17, 2009 at 8:15 pm Link to this comment

I guess, Hippy Pam, based on your assessment of “Most of the 12-14 year olds” that you see, you agree they should all be locked up for slapping incidents like the one described eh?  What, are you on the payroll of one of these for-profit prison companies?

Talk about over-generalizing!  You must live, or imagine you live, in a pretty bad place because MOST of the 12-14 year old people I see are not ANIMALS and do NOT deserve to be sent to prisons where they are brutalized and drugged without consent or oversight.  Maybe people like you, who mindlessly spout off on forums like this should be sent to one of these prisons so you can see how you like it.

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By mjt01, February 17, 2009 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment

The crimes of those involved in carrying out these illegal imprisonments go far beyond the damage done to the unfortunates who they preyed upon. The villianbs destroy the respect for and the meaning of the entire court system.  These two judges should be put away for at least the same cumulative amount of time that others were wrongfully incarcerated. That should also be the case for those that paid the bribes. These would be, and should be, life sentences.

But this is one of the inherent problems when there is either private ownership of a prison system, or when slave labor in prisons is made profitable to corporations. With a serious profit incentive involved, companies buy lobbyists to increase prison sentences for even victimless crimes. There are still people in the US serving life sentences for the possession of a single joint, or three bad checks under a $100 each.

The South still has some slave plantations where minor offenders can labor 70+ hours in the fields for pennies an hour. Louisiana State Penitentiary also known as Angola or “The Farm” is one of these.

Major corporations use or have used prison labor to perform all sorts of tasks. Sometimes these tasks are assembly line work, other times dangerous work with toxic substances without any OSHA protections. In 2003 Dell Computer was forced to stop using a contractor that employed US prisoners to recycle computers. Other Fortune 500 companies are still at this practice. Prisoners have even been used for telemarketing. The had phone numbers, demographic information and got credit card numbers from people who didn’t know that they were handing this information over to felons. Abuse followed with credit card theft and even criminal sexual harassment of some of the victims.

Its easy to say that the prisoners should work to pay for their keep, that it is part of their punishment. But we have far too many people in jail for too many minor infractions. There is too much economic incentive for corporations to buy overly severe punishments. The corporation gets labor at $0.20 to 1.50 an hour, but the rest of us pay $25-45,000 a year to jail the prisoner. Some deal for the taxpayer.

The workhouses of the 17-19th centuries were done away with because of the enormity of the problems they created. We need to do away with the profit motive in our 21st century workhouses.

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By GaryA, February 17, 2009 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment

Rather that decry the jailing of innocents to fatten the bottom lines of dishonest judges and corrupt, private jailers, Amy Goodman should have looked on the bright side.

Firt of all, it wasn’t only the jailers and judges who made out. So also did cops, bailiffs, parole officers, prison guards, prison support industries, etc., etc., etc. The poor shlubs behind bars who kept all these people gainfully employed helped give this flagging economy a boost. And Goodman would like to see that that stopped?!

Just think of the honorable prison guards, prison construction workers, support staff, etc. who might be put out of work if Amy ran the show. And it’s not like the jailed kids had much of a chance in life, anyway.

If these kids had reasonable prospects, their parents would have hired high-priced lawyers and paid their bribes directly to keep the kid out of the slammer. The fact these kids were convicted proves their parents didn’t amount to much and that these kids probably won’t either.

They’re likely all sucking up scarce tax revenue in lousy public schools, rather than paying their own way in good private schools. Not to be unkind about it but, let’s face it, these kids/families are dead-enders. Period.

So what better use is there for riffraff like this than putting them in the slammer to boost the economy? Hell, if we could just find a way to jail a few hundred thousands more, why we might be able to put a scratch in our ugly unemployment picture. The Good Lord knows there’s lot more riffraff where these kids came from.

And there’s another silver lining, too, one that should warm the hearts of bleeding heart liberal wimps such as Goodman: These kids now have prison records, so they’ll be unfit to serve in our armed forces. Surely anti-war, pro-terrorist liberals would be happy about that, no?

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By GaryA, February 17, 2009 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Rather that decry the jailing of innocents to fatten the bottom lines of dishonest judges and corrupt, private jailers, Amy Goodman should have looked on the bright side.

Firt of all, it wasn’t only the jailers and judges who made out. So also did cops, bailiffs, parole officers, prison guards, prison support industries, etc., etc., etc. The poor shlubs behind bars who kept all these people gainfully employed helped give this flagging economy a boost. Of course it was unfair for the corrupt judges to get more than their fair share of the swag, but does Goodman really hate honest work so much she’d put to this imperfect system?

Just think of the honorable prison guards, prison construction workers, support staff, etc. who might be put out of work if Amy ran the show. And it’s not like the jailed kids had much of a chance in life, anyway.

For if these kids had reasonable prospects, their parents would have hired high-priced lawyers and paid their bribes directly to keep the kid out of the slammer. The fact these kids were convicted proves their parents didn’t amount to much and these kids probably won’t either.

Moreover, they’re likely all sucking up scarce tax revenue in lousy public schools, rather than paying their own way in good, private schools. Not to be unkind about it but, let’s face it, these kids/families are dead-enders. Period.

So what better use is there for riffraff like this than putting them in the slammer to boost the economy? Hell, if we could just find a way to jail tens of thousands more, why we might be able to put a scratch in our ugly unemployment picture. God knows there are hundreds of thousands of available riffraff out there.

And there’s another silver lining, one that should warm the hearts of bleeding heart liberal wimps such as Goodman: These kids now have prison records, so they’ll be unfit to serve in our armed forces. Surely pro-terrorist liberals would be happy about that, no?

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By ocjim, February 17, 2009 at 5:48 pm Link to this comment

We live in a narcissistic society, one nurtured by an omniscient unethical marketing culture and politics that deride all opponents and mock thoughtful citizens.

Nothing applauds the general welfare or being your brother’s keeper, not even organized religion. The commercial world targets and promotes “me-centered” customers. 

In a real Christian world, this greedfest perpetrated by a judge wouldn’t happen because others, out of concern for the oppressed children, would have stopped him.

And the average Christian citizen, with even an ounce of empathy, wouldn’t say “serves them right.”

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By hippy pam, February 17, 2009 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment

“we got in a fight.She slapped me.I slapped her.”...

At 14 a young person should know better than to hit….This shows she was not taught respect for others and/or manners.Most of the 12-14 year olds I see are ANIMALS-with out any respect or manners….and WE wonder why they get in trouble with the law?????

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