Love of money is the root of all evil, the Bible and a documentary debuting nationwide Friday tell us.
The film, “Kids for Cash,” details the lives of three teens sentenced by Pennsylvania Judge Mark Ciavarella, who was paid by a private juvenile detention company to keep facilities full.
If parents living in the poor area of Pennsylvania didn’t have the cash to pay for the detention, the kids were held longer — some for years — for “crimes” as trivial as stealing a single jar of nutmeg or writing “Vote for Michael Jackson” on stop signs.
For about seven years during the 2000s, Ciavarella sentenced thousands of kids to jail time for petty crimes, but one story from the film is particularly troubling.
Teenager Edward R. Kenzakoski III got in trouble after police “found” a bong in his car.
Kenzakoski, a big 17-year-old with a reputation for drinking, had never smoked marijuana. His father, Edward R. Kenzakoski Jr., worked with police to plant the bong so the judge, Ciavarella, could “scare” his son straight.
Instead of scaring Kenzakoski, the judge sentenced him to 30-days in juvenile detention.
The jail time seemed to send the acclaimed high school wrestler on a downward spiral. His friends said he began to think of suicide “every day.”
Edward R. Kenzakoski III, who ran afoul of the law multiple times after being framed by his dad, committed suicide in 2010.
Judge Mark Ciavarella didn’t act alone. Another Luzerne County judge, Michael Conahan, also agreed to sentence teens for kickbacks.
Conahan, who managed to defund the county-operated juvenile detention facility, promised he would send the for-profit company $1.3 million a year in “business.”
Together, the judges received $2.6 million in payments from two private juvenile detention facilities.
Ciavarella is serving a 28-year sentence in federal prison, Conohan 17.
I doubt they are housed in for-profit prisons.
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