In a page straight from the book of corruption and greed, epitomizing the worst and most deplorable aspects of American government as well as the American spirit, a Luzerne County, PA Judge, Mark Ciavarella, was convicted of sending juveniles to private prisons in exchange for about $1 million in kickback money. Judge Ciavarella was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison for his involvement in a "Cash for Kids" scheme, which landed many children as young as age 10 in jail, serving real life county sentences. According to multiple sources, including Ciavarella's attorney, this case has gained more attention than any capital murder case and as a result should have ensured a much less stringent sentence than the one handed down to this monster, because after all, his reputation and career as a result of this case are irreparably harmed. Fortunately the Judge did not agree and Ciavarella will likely die in jail.
In continuing with a theme that I started over a year ago, in the way of the Prison Industrial Complex, the first thought that came to mind when reading about this atrocity was that it couldn't possibly be the only situation of it's nature occurring in America. Up until now. we knew that America profited from prison labor, we knew that unfair convictions were a part of the status quo and we knew that judges, public defenders, prosecutors, politicians and corporate CEO's were all part of the equation. What we did not know, or maybe had not thought of yet, was that private prison owners are influencing the judicial system to the point where CHILDREN are being sent to prison, not to be punished or because they are a danger to society, but to satisfy a quota which, if met, will result in a lot of money.
Unfortunately we have not been able to figure out if there is a racial element to this tragedy, but chances are this 10 year scam did, in fact, transcend racial lines because, after all, there aren't too many black folks in Luzerne County, PA. With this in mind, it is safe to say that the problem of the Prison Industrial Complex and it's basic premise, which is to profit from and control those without power, has shifted from targeting black folks exclusively to also targeting children of any race. Whoever does not believe that the elite will do anything for money (including denying to you your constitutional rights) is a fool.
As stated previously, some of these convicted criminals were as young as 10 years old and sentenced to jail time for such crimes as stealing a jar of nutmeg and countless first time drug paraphernalia charges. One teenager was sentenced to 3 months for making fun of a teacher online.
Ciavarella's lawyer had the nerve to condemn Ciavarella's conviction because it was a non-violent crime; he stated that he had seen people convicted of murder receive less time than his client. Well, according to the Huffington Post, one teenager committed suicide while in prison and the child's family blames Ciavarella, as I am sure we all do. With that in mind, 28 years in federal prison at age 61 sounds like quite a fair conviction, but it will be interesting to see if it is upheld after the appeal the lawyer is ensuring will be filed.
Personally, I thought that I had said everything that could be said on such matters. I was sure that with the fall of the Rockefeller drug laws and the move by Eric Holder to overturn overly strict drug sentences to give some inmates early release that there could not possible be some new, undiscovered element to the issue of unfair convictions and sentencing. This, my friends, takes the cake. Who could possibly believe that it actually took the federal government 10 years to figure out that this Judge was involved in trafficking children to prison for money? And even if it did, how many other similar scams are still in operation?
In a country where the educational system is outdated and not capable of properly preparing our children for a competitive global community, we have a judge who is blatantly selling our kids out to not only the corporate system ('cause we could forgive that, i.e.. music and entertainment companies all day ) but to the vicious prison system as well, where they will return home with an innocence that is lost. They will grow up having been scarred for life for the benefit of fueling another's greed. It is no surprise that the majority of kids coming of age right now are lost with no social skills, spirituality or realistic aspirations. With neck tattoos that will quickly eliminate their ability to obtain gainful employment or even be taken seriously as an entrepreneur in some cases, they have not accepted the reality that we all live in. Their only goals deal with one of a few superficial, unproductive areas of life. If you think I am exaggerating then visit your local urban area high school for a day.
I found the following excerpt from an article in the New American on this subject:
Ciavarella was also ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution. And after the scandal made headlines worldwide, the state Supreme Court overturned about 5,000 convictions. Apparently Ciavarella had denied the rights of youngsters in his court to have counsel and enter intelligent pleas.
At his sentencing hearing on Thursday, the former judge initially sounded remorseful. “I blame no one but myself for what has happened,” he told the court. “I had the opportunity to say ‘no’ to taking money that I believed was legal to receive, but knew that I should not take.”
But the apparent remorse soon faded as Ciavarella began to lash out, attacking prosecutors and independent investigators for allegedly helping to create a negative public image of him and his courtroom. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod responded by telling the court that Ciavarella’s refusal to accept responsibility was one of the reasons he deserved a life sentence.
“It seems to me Mr. Ciavarella says ‘I was not selling kids retail,’” Zubrod was quoted as saying in a local newspaper. “We agree. We think he was selling them wholesale.” The U.S. Attorney for the district said the sentence was fair.
In a money hungry, sex crazed society such as this one, just when you think the human psyche can't get any darker and just when you think our so called leaders can't get any sleazier, along comes a story like this to quickly remind us how far some will go to make a little money.
Was this an unfair sentence?
Is anyone as utterly appalled at this story as I am?
Do you think that there is more of this type of crooked behavior going on in the judicial system?