Sunday, February 22, 2009
Jailing kids for profit
A Pennsylvania judge found an interesting way to supplement his income. He got a kickback every time he sent a kid to juvenile detention.
It was good business for the judge, and good business for the private, for-profit juvenile jails. The more kids they had, the more money they made.
Everybody in this scheme came out ahead--except the kids.
The New York Times relates the tale of 17-year-old Hillary Transue, a "stellar" student who spoofed the assistant principal at her Wilkes-Barre high school with a MySpace page. She even said, on the page, that it was a joke.
Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. gave her three months in juvenile detention. “I felt like I had been thrown into some surreal sort of nightmare,” she told the Times.
Ciavarella sentenced 5,000 kids to jail since the scheme began in 2003. Many were first-time offenders, and some are still in detention. He and a colleague admitted to $2.6 million for jailing the kids, according to the Times.
The State Supreme Court is trying to figure out what to do with them.