By Joe Wright
The fact that the United States leads the world in prison population is becoming common knowledge. Somewhat lesser known is the direct connection between corporate prisons and incarceration rates. There is no starker example of this than Louisiana which leads the world in for-profit prisons and, just coincidentally, happens to have the world’s highest prison population per capita.
The U.S. prison business has become the essence of predatory corporatism: it privatizes profits and socializes losses. This combination has led to a situation where correctional facilities have very little incentive to correct the behavior of those who reside within their walls, but every incentive to ensure that new bodies arrive as fast as possible, and keep them in a state of indentured servitude. This is even happening with the return of debtors’ prisons in some states – once thought to be intelligently left behind as a brutal chapter of Medieval Europe or Victorian England.
However, something even worse has taken place in the area of so-called juvenile delinquency.
Luzerne County Pennsylvania Judge, Mark Ciavarella Jr., exposed the darkest underbelly of a predatory system with his role in what has come to be known as “kids for cash.” Ciavarella thankfully was caught and sentenced to 28 years in prison for taking more than $2 million in bribes from the builder of two detention centers. The centers were literally built and filled off of the incarceration of 3,000 juveniles (some as young as 10 years old) the vast majority of whom would later would have their convictions overturned by the Pennsylvania supreme court. A new documentary delves deeper….
The documentary illustrates the case of Judge Ciavarella as the worst yet brought to light, but looks also at the overall structure that has been set up to enable this type of abuse. As pointed out by Kids For Cash, two million children are arrested every year – 95% for non-violent crimes; and the United States incarcerates 5 times more children than anywhere else on earth.
Once exposed to the harsh life behind bars, many children are scarred for life, with some going down the path to even worse criminality than what originally landed them in jail. Worse still, many have gone on to commit suicide like one child featured in the documentary.
This film is a harsh reminder that America has a very strange way of perceiving its “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” mantra.
With more people locked up than any of its continuously rotated demonic enemies, it’s high time to honestly look around and see what America is really building.
On a related note, it is also worth watching the following short documentary exposing the increased use of solitary confinement on juveniles – a policy that has now been verified by science to be a form of torture.
For film release and location information, please visit:
To learn more about the stories of some of the children who appear in the film:
To learn more about what might be happening in your state, the filmmakers have put together educational resources, meet-up groups, action items and a guide for how you can host a screening of the film in your area. Please investigate further at this link to help demand justice: http://kidsforcashthemovie.com/demand-justice/
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