[nfbmi-talk] oh they put this on the web site after hours yesterday

Christine Boone christineboone2 at gmail.com
Mon Feb 10 02:38:41 UTC 2014


Wait, this was on the BSBP website? Why? 
On Feb 8, 2014, at 8:02 PM, joe harcz Comcast <joeharcz at comcast.net> wrote:

> They can't post financials, or minutes, or even meeting agendas. But BSBP put this notice about the Anderson Building on the BSBP web site late yesterday:
> 
> Excerpt: "Today a special on 'kids for cash,' the shocking story of how
> thousands of children in Pennsylvania were jailed by two corrupt judges who
> received $2.6 million in kickbacks from the builders and owners of private
> prison facilities."
> 
> Amy Goodman. (photo: unknown)
> 
> Inside the Shocking "Kids for Cash" Juvenile Justice Scandal
> By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
> 07 February 14
> 
> Today a special on "kids for cash," the shocking story of how thousands of
> children in Pennsylvania were jailed by two corrupt judges who received $2.6
> million in kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison
> facilities. We hear from two of the youth: Charlie Balasavage was sent to
> juvenile detention after his parents unknowingly bought him a stolen
> scooter; Hillary Transue was detained for creating a MySpace page mocking
> her assistant high school principal. They were both 14 years old and were
> sentenced by the same judge, Judge Mark Ciavarella, who is now in jail
> himself - serving a 28-year sentence. Balasavage and Transue are featured in
> the new documentary, "Kids for Cash," by filmmaker Robert May, who also
> joins us. In addition, we speak to two mothers: Sandy Fonzo, whose son Ed
> Kenzakoski committed suicide after being imprisoned for years by Judge
> Ciavarella, and Hillary's mother, Laurene Transue. Putting their stories
> into context of the larger scandal is attorney Robert Schwartz, executive
> director of the Juvenile Law Center. The story is still developing: In
> October, the private juvenile-detention companies in the scandal settled a
> civil lawsuit for $2.5 million.
> This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
> Amy Goodman: Today, a special on "kids for cash," the shocking story of how
> thousands of children in Pennsylvania were jailed by two corrupt judges who
> received kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison
> facilities.
> Hillary Transue: I was known for being the jokester.
> 
> Sandy Fonzo: Eddie, he was always a fireball.
> 
> HT: We were talking about how funny it would be if we made a fake MySpace
> page about my vice principal.
> 
> Amanda Lorah: I was trying to stay out of trouble. That's when everything
> started.
> 
> Mark Ciavarella: Whatever sins you have committed, you can't go back and
> undo it.
> 
> Terrie Morgan-Besecker: Ciavarella was a no-nonsense, zero-tolerance judge.
> He always jailed kids.
> 
> MC: You are going to experience prison. I'll be glad to put you there.
> 
> Unidentified: The way Ciavarella ran the courtroom, you could have had F.
> Lee Bailey there, and the kids would have gone away.
> 
> Marsha Levick: There's a mechanism that takes over that keeps kids in that
> system.
> 
> HT: No one listened, because we were kids.
> 
> U: There was never any instance of guilt or innocence. They were locking him
> up.
> 
> ML: Really high number of kids appearing without counsel.
> 
> SF: We have no rights. He's in their custody now.
> 
> U: It is unbelievable. We're talking about children.
> 
> MC: I wanted them to be scared out of their minds. I don't understand how
> that was a bad thing.
> 
> MSNBC Reporter: Former Luzerne County judge faces charges tonight.
> 
> Gregg Jarrett: In a scandal known as "kids for cash."
> 
> ABC News Reporter: $2.6 million.
> 
> Stephen Colbert: In return for sentencing kids to juvenile detention.
> 
> MC: I've never sent a kid away for a penny. I'm not this mad judge who was
> just putting them in shackles, throwing kids away.
> 
> SF: He went there as a free-spirited kid. He came out a hardened man, I'd
> say.
> 
> Laurene Transue: Here I was saying, "We can trust that judge to be fair."
> And that's not what happened.
> 
> AL: I was scared every day.
> 
> Charlie Balasavage: I was only 14. All those years I missed.
> 
> Al Flora Jr.: This is not a cash-for-kids case.
> 
> SF: You scumbag! You ruined my life!
> 
> AL: I still wake up from nightmares.
> AG: That's the trailer for "Kids for Cash," a new documentary years in the
> making, features interviews with the children, with the parents and two
> judges at the heart of the scandal. The film is set to open in Philadelphia
> Wednesday at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
> Well, on Monday, I spoke to a number of people featured in the film,
> including Charlie Balasavage and Hillary Transue. They were both 14 years
> old when they were sentenced to juvenile detention. I began the interview
> with Hillary Transue and her mother Laurene. Hillary was sent to juvenile
> detention after she created a MySpace page mocking her assistant high school
> principal. Her mother Laurene called the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia
> for help and sparked an investigation that exposed the kids-for-cash
> scandal. I asked Hillary how it all began.
> HT: I believe it was 2007 when I was on the phone with a friend, and we were
> just chatting, and I heard a call from the bottom of the stairs. My mother
> sounded irate, and she yelled up to me, "Do you know anything about a
> MySpace page?" And I said, "Yeah, from like months ago."
> 
> AG: How old were you?
> 
> HT: I was 15.
> 
> AG: What was this MySpace page?
> 
> HT: It was a parody page about my vice principal. A couple of friends and I
> decided it would be funny to make fun of the school disciplinarian on the
> Internet, and so we created this page. And I remember putting a disclaimer
> on it, thinking if anybody finds this, at least I can't get in trouble for
> it.
> 
> AG: And you said things like - you talked about her and said, "She spends
> most of her time reading silly teen magazines, daydreaming about Johnny Depp
> in nothing but tighty whiteys. Ooh, la la"?
> 
> HT: Yes, yes.
> 
> AG: And so, this was what your mother was yelling up to you about?
> 
> HT: Yes. I mean, there were comments on there made by other kids that were
> not - that were obscene. And I will admit to that. But they were not my
> comments. I do believe - I think I was held responsible for them because
> they were on the page. And -
> 
> AG: So, what happened?
> 
> HT: Well, I mean, a lot of it is on my mom's end. She was on the phone with
> a police officer, and I didn't really understand what was going on.
> 
> AG: Laurene, can you tell us what happened with this phone call?
> 
> LT: Sure. The officer called, asked me if Hillary is my daughter. I said,
> "Yes." He said, "Well, I'm coming down to arrest her for making a MySpace
> page about her vice principal." So I yelled up to Hillary, "Do you know
> anything about a MySpace page and your assistant principal?" And she's like,
> "Yeah, from like months ago," at which point the officer started shouting,
> "I heard her! She confessed! I'm coming down there. I'm arresting her." And
> I'm like, "Woah, you're not speaking to my daughter without an attorney. At
> least give me time to get an attorney." And he started shouting that that's
> how parents like me are: We let our kids off the hook. And because I was
> getting attorneys involved, he was going to charge her with Internet
> stalking, abuse of the Internet. He told me that they've been watching my
> Internet activity and that he was coming down to arrest her. So -
> 
> AG: What about the lawyer for your daughter?
> 
> LT: Well, I got off the phone, and I'm like - now I'm thinking, "Where am I
> going to find a lawyer at this time of night?" And like, I, you know -
> 
> AG: What time was it?
> 
> LT: It was after I had come home from work, so it was in the evening. And I
> don't know any lawyers. We're not the kind of folks that have a lawyer on
> retainer. So I called my mom, and I said, "Do you know an attorney?" And
> she's like, "Well, I do, but, like, not for this. And you're overreacting.
> This sounds like a very simple thing that happened. Call the officer back
> and try and talk to him. Just, you know, follow the law, be cooperative."
> I'm like, "OK."
> 
> So I called the officer back, and he said, "Hey, you keep the lawyers out of
> it, and I'll reduce her charges to a misdemeanor of harassment." And I'm
> like, "Oh, OK, all right, we can do that. Are you still coming down? Can you
> wait 'til, you know, I have at least someone here while you arrest her or
> whatever?" And he said, "Oh, no, I don't have to come down. We'll send you
> something in the mail." And then, that was in January, and we didn't hear
> anything for months. In fact, I kept calling him, saying, "Where - like, we
> haven't received anything."
> 
> AG: So when did you hear, and what happened?
> 
> LT: We did get a paper in the mail. We had to go to juvenile probation. We
> had to do an interview there, bring all of her shot records, birth
> certificate, all that kind of thing, my financial information. They asked us
> some very intimate questions, which was odd.
> 
> AG: You have no lawyer.
> 
> LT: No, no lawyer. Again, I was told to keep the lawyer out of it, and
> everything will go simply. And we asked the probation officer, "What's going
> to happen now?" And he said, "Well, it'll probably be probation and possibly
> community service." "OK, you know, do we get a lawyer?" Like, "No, no, no,
> no. That - you know, we've done the study, you'll go to court, whatever."
> "OK."
> 
> So then we went to court, and we walked in, and they had tables set up by
> last name. And we went to the table there, and they said, "Do you have an
> attorney with you?" And I said, "No." They said, "Sign here." So now I'm
> assuming, "Oh, this is where we get a public defender." And so I signed this
> blank form and signed - but you also have to understand that there were
> dozens of other parents there with their children at their last-name table
> doing the same exact thing. So I'm like, "OK, this is how it works."
> 
> Then we went in a big room, and we waited, and we thought the attorneys
> would meet us there. No one came. They said, "We're going in the courtroom."
> We sat right outside the courtroom. No attorneys came. The prosecutor came
> out. The assistant principal was there. She gave him a kiss on both cheeks,
> asked him how the family was. And he said, "Don't worry about a thing." And
> we walked into the courtroom. They said, "This is the case of," and the
> judge stood up and started screaming at Hillary.
> 
> AG: The judge was?
> 
> LT: Mark Ciavarella, former judge.
> 
> AG: What was he screaming at you, Hillary?
> 
> HT: The first thing he said to me was: "What makes you think you can do this
> kind of crap?" And it was - it was really off-putting. I was there that day
> in my mother's clothing, because she insisted that I look nice, and, you
> know, at 15 years old, I didn't have anything appropriate. And, you know,
> I'm already uncomfortable, and he started screaming at me, "What makes you
> think you can do this kind of crap?" And I was just terrified. I don't - I
> have never been before a judge before, and I wasn't expecting to be screamed
> at by one. So it definitely was jarring.
> 
> AG: And what happened?
> 
> HT: I mean, it took about 30 seconds, so it's hard for me to have exact
> details, but he said something along the lines of "Adjudicated delinquent,"
> which meant nothing to me. And then I remember - I remember my mother's
> hands leaving my shoulders, and I remember gliding as if in like a dreamlike
> sort of state to this back room, where I'm - all I can hear is the sound of
> my mother's pleading, her wailing and pleading, and I'm being cuffed. And
> the bailiff is saying -
> 
> AG: You're being handcuffed?
> 
> HT: Yes. And the bailiff says, "Look what you did to your mother." And it's
> - just like I said, it's sort of like time stopped, and I began to veer of
> to this like parallel universe.
> 
> AG: Laurene, did you - did the judge hand down a sentence right there?
> 
> LT: Oh, yes. He said, "Adjudicated delinquent." And he said, "Send her up to
> FACT AdDel for her to think about what she's done." And I just started - I
> looked at the officer, and I'm like, "But that's not what you said." And I'm
> like looking at these people who have said, you know, this - it will be
> probation, possibly community service. And I'm thinking this is crazy,
> because I had called a - in Pennsylvania, we have magistrates. And I asked,
> you know, "My daughter's been accused with this statute of Pennsylvania
> law." I said, "As an adult, what would be the maximum sentence?" One night
> in jail and up to a $50 fine. So why on earth would think they would take my
> daughter, who's never been in trouble? We had no family issues. We were not
> involved with the system in any way. Why would I think they would take my
> daughter away? So, basically, I started, you know, asking him, and then I
> just started - I became hysterical. This is the best way I can explain it.
> And I -
> 
> AG: You saw your daughter handcuffed?
> 
> LT: No, she was like - it was very odd, because my hands were on her
> shoulders, and as soon as he said, "Adjudicated delinquent," I really didn't
> hear anything else. I had been a caseworker for 16 years, and I knew exactly
> what that meant. So, I turned and was talking to them, and when I turned
> again, it was like - it was like she had evaporated. She was just gone.
> 
> AG: I wanted to turn to our other guest in studio right now. Charlie
> Balasavage, talk about what happened to you. So, Hillary was 15. How old
> were you when police first came to your house?
> 
> CB: I was 14.
> 
> AG: How old are you now?
> 
> CB: I'm 23.
> 
> AG: So you're 14 years old, and the police came over.
> 
> CB: Yes.
> 
> AG: Why?
> 
> CB: At first, I thought it would be because I was riding this scooter around
> without a helmet on, because, you know - and ended up it wasn't that. It was
> that someone had called, reported that scooter stolen.
> 
> AG: Where did you get the scooter?
> 
> CB: My parents bought it off of a family member.
> 
> AG: They bought it for you from a family member?
> 
> CB: Yeah, they bought it for me. So, my parents weren't home at the time, so
> I had to call them. They rushed home, and the cops -
> 
> AG: The police were there?
> 
> CB: Yeah, the police were there. The cops arrested all three of us and took
> us down to the police station. And we had to write a statement and
> everything. We told them what happened, that we bought it. And they said,
> unfortunately, because we didn't have no documentation saying that they
> bought it from my family member, that they're going to have to charge with
> receiving stolen property. And so, they said to my parents, you know, if I
> take the charges, maybe I'll get probation, maybe not even, just community
> service. So I agreed to it. I was like, "OK, you know, I'll do that,"
> because otherwise my parents were going to get charged with it.
> 
> AG: Did you have a lawyer with you?
> 
> CB: No, no lawyer. This was all the cops' suggestion, too, that I take the
> charges, nothing will happen, you know. And so, I was like, "OK." And I
> ended up having to go into court, and when I went into court, it was the
> same thing. You walk up to that table. They have that form.
> 
> AG: Your mom was with you?
> 
> CB: Yeah, my mom was with me. She signed it. We didn't have a lawyer at all.
> We thought also we'd get a public defender. That's not what happened. We
> walked into the courtroom. We were really in there for maybe a minute. And
> the judge already knew what he was going to do with me. I mean -
> 
> AG: This judge was named?
> 
> CB: Ciavarella. And I really don't even remember what he - oh, he said,
> clearly, that I have a behavior problem, because I had a speech impediment
> when I was younger, and because of it, I was made fun of a lot in school, so
> I had a problem going to school, and he had records of that. So, that was my
> big problem. He sentenced me to three months in Camp Adams.
> 
> AG: Camp Adams?
> 
> CB: Yeah, Camp Adams.
> 
> AG: It's called Camp Adams.
> 
> CB: Yeah, it's like a boot camp, pretty much.
> 
> AG: Had you ever been detained before?
> 
> CB: No.
> 
> AG: Did you know where you were going?
> 
> CB: No. They shackled me right there in front of my mother and hauled me
> off.
> 
> AG: And how long did you serve in jail?
> 
> CB: It was the three months I had to do in Camp Adams. Then they do a
> follow-up where I have to go back to court. And when I went back to court, I
> ended up having to go to a place called Clearbrook for three months, because
> I experimented with marijuana. And I -
> 
> AG: [Inaudible]
> 
> CB: Yeah, and I was truthful with them and told them that, yeah, I tried it
> before. So, apparently, I had a drug problem at that time, so they made me
> do another three months there.
> 
> AG: When you first went to jail, you talk in the film, ["Kids for Cash"],
> about having to earn a pillow?
> 
> CB: Oh, yeah. That was for my first two weeks at Camp Adams. They have like
> a system. Your first 30 days there, you're a - it's called like a ranger.
> You do nothing but like physical training and stuff like that. And yeah,
> every time I would ask for a pillow, no one would ever get me one. And
> finally, once I moved past that ranger stage, they moved me to a different
> cabin. I finally got a pillow. So -
> 
> AG: So, ultimately, how long did you serve in prison?
> 
> CB: Altogether? It was about five years.
> 
> AG: Five years.
> 
> CB: Yeah.
> 
> AG: How did you end up in jail for five years, on and off?
> 
> CB: Parole - probation violations.
> 
> AG: So you would get out?
> 
> CB: Yeah, I would get out. I would not go to school or something, like
> curfew.
> 
> AG: How did jail affect you?
> 
> CB: I mean, I was in there with people that - people that actually belong
> there, that I've heard things, and, like, I guess I could say I was
> influenced, I mean, by these people. Even staff would say to me, "What are
> you doing here? Why are you here?" And I would say, "I don't know."
> AG: That was Charlie Balasavage, one of thousands of children convicted in
> the kids-for-cash scandal in Pennsylvania. We also heard from Hillary
> Transue and her mom Laurene. All three are featured in the new documentary,
> "Kids for Cash," that's premiering in Philadelphia Wednesday night, looking
> at how two judges, Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, took kickbacks from
> private prisons. In our next segment, we'll speak with Sandy Fonzo. Her son
> Ed is not with her. You'll find out why. We'll be back in a minute.
> [Break]
> AG: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm
> Amy Goodman. As we continue our special on "kids for cash," the shocking
> story of how thousands of children in Pennsylvania were jailed by two
> corrupt judges who received kickbacks from the builders and owners of
> private prison facilities, we return to our conversation with some of the
> people featured in the new documentary, "Kids for Cash." In this segment, we
> continue speaking with Laurene Transue, whose daughter Hillary was sentenced
> to juvenile detention for making a MySpace page that mocked her assistant
> principal. But first we turn to Sandy Fonzo. Her 17-year-old son, Ed
> Kenzakoski, was sentenced to 30 days in a juvenile boot camp by Judge Mark
> Ciavarella. I began by asking Sandy to describe how her son Ed first came to
> be arrested.
> SF: Just a regular, normal, happy life we had. And the summer of his senior
> year, what would have been his senior year, he started, you know,
> experimenting a little, too, and sneaking out of the house at night. I knew
> he was drinking. I always - you know, it was just me and him. So when I did
> have a problem with him, it was always, you know, "I'm going to call your
> dad, and your dad's going to come." But now he's, you know -
> 
> AG: He was a star wrestler?
> 
> SF: Yeah, star wrestler. I mean, the scouts were all looking at him, many
> opportunities for scholarships. They were watching him since he was in
> junior high wrestling for high school. He just had a lot - a lot before him,
> you know, a lot of good. You know, he had a girlfriend at the time that was
> telling me stuff about him experimenting and, you know, just getting a
> little bit out of control. I would call his dad, and his dad couldn't do
> anything anymore. You know, he was this big kid, you know, six-one and big
> muscles. He would lift all the time. And not doing anything than any other -
> you know, than what I did at 17 years old, either. But he just had so much
> to lose.
> 
> And it got to the point that his dad called one day, and Ed wasn't home. You
> know, he was supposed to be home in school, he's supposed to be in school.
> And he found out that he was at an underage drinking party. And he had
> friends that he graduated with that were cops, so he talked to them, and
> they were going to go in and put some, you know, paraphernalia on him just
> to get him caught, get him a slap on the wrist, let him - you know,
> community service, educational program, anything to let him know what - you
> know, he has just too much, too much to lose. And this is his senior year.
> He's wrestled since he was four years old. And so, that's what happened.
> They went and got him, and they took him in. He sat two -
> 
> AG: They planted drug paraphernalia?
> 
> SF: Drug paraphernalia, marijuana pipe.
> 
> AG: In his truck?
> 
> SF: Yes. And so -
> 
> AG: A marijuana pipe.
> 
> SF: Right. And so, you know, I get the call that he's down at the police
> station. Juvenile court isn't until Tuesday, so for the weekend he had to
> stay in jail. Tuesday comes along, and now all along, you know, we're
> talking to the probation people. We're talking, actually, to the judge also.
> There was a sit-down in - you know, with these cops and -
> 
> AG: Judge Ciavarella?
> 
> SF: Judge Ciavarella, that this was all, you know, in his best interest just
> to get him a little slap on the wrist, wise him up, scare him straight. He's
> a great kid. He has a great future ahead of him. And yeah, we know. There's,
> you know, nothing you have to worry about. We don't need a lawyer - the same
> story. You got off the elevator, and they were there. "Do you have a
> lawyer?" "No, we were told we don't need one." "OK, sign." And that was it.
> 
> I don't know. I was just very naive. And, I mean, I was - never in my
> wildest dreams would I think these people that are supposed to have - you
> know, they were the professionals. They have your child's interest at best -
> best at heart. And these are the people that you trust, and everything's
> going to be OK. You know, he's going to learn a little lesson, and
> everything will be fine.
> 
> And we stood there, and in 30 seconds he was cuffed and shackled and taken
> away. And, I mean, that was the worst feeling, seeing him turn and look at
> me like, you know, "What's going on?" And there was nothing I can do. That's
> frozen into my psyche for the rest of my life, that look that was on his
> face. They took him to the PA Child Care and said that he would be there
> until he got this psychological evaluation, which we all know was Judge
> Conahan's son-in-law, brother-in-law?
> 
> LT: I think it was son-in-law.
> 
> SF: Yeah, that was doing these psychological evaluations. Well, it was a
> whole 30 days -
> 
> AG: The other judge who ended up being convicted.
> 
> SF: The president judge that made Judge Ciavarella the juvenile justice
> judge, yeah. So, he sat in there for 30 days, got his psychological
> evaluation.
> 
> AG: Were you able to see him there?
> 
> SF: Yes, you were allowed on certain days and certain times to go see him
> and talk to him. And he wanted nothing more. "Mom, I know, you know, this
> was so stupid. I just want to get back. I've missed so much wrestling
> practice. This is my senior year." All he wanted to do was get back to
> school. I had letters from the teachers, letters from the judges - or, I'm
> sorry, from the coaches, in lieu of Ed's character, of what a great kid he
> was, sent to the judge's chambers. And anyway, we had to go. So, we're going
> now for 30 days, you know, and I thought to myself, "OK, you know, this was
> good. He sat there. He got his head together. He wants to get back to
> school. Everything's good."
> 
> Well, we went and stood back in front of that judge, and he was shackled and
> cuffed and taken to a boot camp out in - it was Northwestern Boot Academy,
> an hour away from our house, total military. They couldn't speak. They
> couldn't do anything. They were dressed in military attire. He was with, you
> know, people from all over that committed actual - when he would tell me the
> crimes that were committed, this is whom my son was in with. They broke you
> down, I mean tore you apart, humiliated you. He wouldn't tell me what
> happened when he was in there.
> 
> AG: How long was he sent - did Judge Ciavarella -
> 
> SF: Three months. He went in there for three months. And then, from there,
> because Ciavarella said he had a drug problem, then he would have to go to
> Clearbrook, which was, you know, a rehabilitation for addictions. By the
> time my son got there, if he ever did have a problem with drugs or alcohol,
> he was never treated, because they said, "This kid has spent so much time
> already, we can't even keep him." So then he was just released and thrown
> back out. "Get back your life." No school, because they gave him that amount
> of schooling in there, so he never got to go back to his high school, never
> got to wrestle. He was a just - he was a mess when he came out of there. He
> -
> 
> AG: Lost all chance of scholarship.
> 
> SF: He wouldn't talk about what happened in there. He -
> 
> AG: How long had he been altogether now in jail, prison?
> 
> SF: Three, four - he was one month there, three months there, and - five
> months, approximately. But he came out of there a changed person. Like I
> said, he was a 17-year-old, free-spirited boy, and he came out a hardened
> man that wouldn't even talk about what in - so, to this day, I don't know
> what happened to him in there, but he would never talk about it. But he was
> just a different person. You know, he - very bottled up, you know, wouldn't
> speak, and no respect for the justice system at all. He knew he was wronged.
> He knew what was taken away. He lost his little girlfriend while he was in
> there. She left him for somebody, you know. He just lost, in that age, at
> that impressionable age, way too much. He had way too much taken from him,
> everything his - everything he had, really.
> 
> And he ended up getting into a fight while he was still on probation, so he
> would have to go in front of Judge Ciavarella again. And now Ciavarella
> takes him for four months and sends him to his other facility out in the PA
> Child Care in western Pennsylvania for four months now - loses his job,
> loses everything again. The people that worked there couldn't understand why
> this almost 20-year-old is doing in this juvenile facility. Nobody
> understood. But he came out of there, and, I mean, that was it. He ended up
> in a fight, which he had to go into - and the fight that he did get into,
> that we took to adult court, was thrown out. It was just a fight between two
> kids. It was nothing. But Ciavarella, you know, four months, he went to his
> other facility that they were receiving profit for. And that was it. He got
> into the fight. He was sentenced to a state prison for it, and he came out.
> He lasted for almost five months, and then - that's it.
> 
> AG: Then he shot himself.
> 
> SF: Yeah, in his heart.
> 
> AG: We're talking to Sandy Fonzo. She is talking about her son, Ed
> Kenzakoski, who took his own life after an ordeal that lasted years, when he
> ended up originally in the court of Judge Ciavarella. In the midst of what
> you were saying, Sandy, you said you came to know that Judge Ciavarella was
> now being investigated, even though your son Ed would continue to be his
> victim. That takes us back to Laurene Transue now, because when Hillary was
> taken away from you in shackles, you started to investigate the judge
> yourself. Explain what happened - or at least take some action yourself.
> 
> LT: Well, so, in the beginning, it was all about my daughter. So I don't
> know that any of this other stuff is going on. What happened is, when they
> finally let me go from the room I was in immediately following the hearing,
> they allowed me - actually, they called my husband using my phone. And it
> was cold, very cold that day for April, and they sat me outside the
> courthouse in a metal chair and told me I was not allowed to come back in.
> So, as I sat there, I'm like, "But I don't - I don't know anything. Like,
> where is she? Where's my information?" And they handed me a business card
> from the probation department with a man's first name on the back of it and
> told me that that's who I should contact. But I had no idea who that was.
> 
> So my husband came and picked me up. But you're really in a state of shock
> when this happens, because it's so ridiculous, so - just you can't fathom
> it. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. So that first afternoon, my
> father, my stepmother came, my mother was calling me. They kept saying to
> me, "She had to have done something more. There has to be more to this." And
> I'm like, there really -
> 
> AG: More than a MySpace page -
> 
> LT: Yeah, like - and I'm like, "No, really, like there" -
> 
> AG: - making fun of her assistant principal.
> 
> LT: Mm-hmm. I said, "There really is nothing else." And so I just cried and
> cried and cried and cried. And finally, my father said to me, "This is not
> the" - they call me Laurie in my family. He says, "This is not the Laurie I
> know. She wouldn't just sit here and give up." And I'm like, "But, Dad, this
> is a judge. Like, what am I going to do?" He goes, "Well, you're going to
> fight."
> 
> So I called the name on the back of the card, and it turned out it was a
> public defender in our county. And he laughed at me when I said, "You have
> to file an appeal. This is insane." He goes, "Ciavarella doesn't allow
> appeals." So, I'm like, "Are you telling me that we can't appeal or just
> that it's pointless or it's not allowed? Like, what are you saying?" He
> goes, "Well, it's pointless, but Ciavarella wouldn't even like schedule it
> for you." I'm like, "OK." So I called the public defender's office in
> Harrisburg. Pennsylvania is a commonwealth, so things run a little bit
> differently in a commonwealth. I called the public defender's office -
> 
> AG: In the capital, Harrisburg.
> 
> LT: In the capital. And they told me, "Well, no, of course juveniles can
> have appeals, but we're not getting involved in a county matter. OK, so I
> called the governor's action line. And they were like, "Oh, we'll - you
> know, we'll make note of this." I said, "Well, who else can I call?" "Try
> the ACLU."
> 
> So I called the ACLU. I explained the situation. They said, "Absolutely, you
> have a case here. She had a right to put whatever she wants on MySpace,
> especially a parody. And she put a disclaimer that that's what it is. And
> we'd be happy to take that case, but we're not going to get involved in this
> county placement thing and custody." And I'm like, "But now what do I do?"
> "Well, we have some other numbers," one of which was a woman at Rutgers in
> New Jersey. So I was like, "OK, I'm a Jersey girl. Maybe I'll get lucky
> there." So I called there, and the woman was so sympathetic, and she said,
> "Listen, I know somebody. A friend of mine works at Juvenile Law Center in
> Philadelphia, and since you're in Pennsylvania, maybe they can help you."
> 
> So I called Juvenile Law Center, and I kind of gave them the information.
> And the person I spoke to, his name was Laval, and he was very, very
> soft-spoken, not excitable at all. So I didn't know how to read him. And he
> said that he would check with Marsha Levick, who was the head of the
> Juvenile Law Center, and find out if they could take Hillary's case. So I
> said, "OK." And he would call me back. Well, the next day, he hadn't called
> back, and so my father said, "You give me that number," and he called them.
> 
> The next thing I know, they were calling me, saying, yes, they were willing
> to take the case, but not for me. They would not be my attorney. They
> represent children, and they would represent Hillary as long as I was
> agreeable and Hillary was agreeable. Would I - would it be OK if they met
> with her? I'm like, "Yeah, absolutely." And I said, "Listen, just let me
> know how much I have to pay, because, like, I do have a house. I don't have
> much equity, but I can get some loans and get some money together." And
> they're like, "No, I don't think you understand. We're here for children. We
> want to help your daughter. Don't worry about any of that." I said, "OK." So
> they went and saw Hillary. And for the first time, we had hope. I still
> couldn't see her for three weeks. I was allowed a one-minute phone call.
> 
> AG: You could not see your 15-year-old daughter for three weeks?
> 
> LT: No, no.
> 
> AG: One minute? Sixty seconds?
> 
> LT: Yes, that first phone call was the two of us sobbing, hysterical, both
> apologizing to the other. It was a conversation of "I'm sorry," "No, I'm
> sorry, Mom," "No, Hillary, it's my fault. I'm so sorry." That was our one
> minute, and then it was over. And then the next week, I think we got five
> minutes, and the next week was eight minutes.
> 
> HT: I think it was just eight minutes.
> 
> LT: But somebody is there listening, and if she started to talk about
> anything to do with a lawyer and getting out of there, they cut her off.
> 
> AG: I want to fast-forward to 2011. Judge Ciavarella is charged, tried and
> convicted. It's eight years after Sandy Fonzo's son first was confronted by
> the judge and sent away. And so, after Judge Ciavarella is convicted, Sandy
> Fonzo, who has now lost her son, Ed Kenzakoski - he shot himself in the
> heart - she confronts the judge.
> . AFJ: This is not a cash-for-kids case, and we hope somebody starts
> getting the message.
> 
> . SF: Oh, it wasn't? Because my kid's not here anymore! My kids not
> here! He's dead! Because of him! He ruined my [bleep] life! I'd like him to
> go to hell and rot there forever!
> 
> . Security Guard: Ma'am, come on.
> 
> . SF: No! You know what he told everybody in court? They need to be
> held accountable for their actions. You need to be! Do you remember me? Do
> you remember me? Do you remember my son? An all-star wrestler? He's gone! He
> shot himself in the heart! You scumbag!
> AG: Talk about that, Sandy. What happened? You were there for his trial?
> 
> SF: I planned on being, and then when it came up, I couldn't get myself to
> go and sit there and look at him and hear the lies. And I kept myself away
> until the day of the guilty - you know, when he was found guilty, I wanted
> to be there. I was actually working, and I kept getting messages from
> everybody that he's found guilty of this, he's found guilty of that, you
> know, and I'm having a panic attack. And they're going to take him. They're
> going to shackle him, and they're going to take him, and he's going away
> today. So, every - I was a mess by now, an emotional train wreck. And
> everybody at work was like, "Go." I just wanted to be there. I wanted to see
> him come out of there in shackles, and I wanted to see him go away.
> 
> And I don't know how, I got myself there. Somehow I drove myself there.
> Nobody knew I was there. And I - everybody thought I was at work. I don't
> remember the ride at all. I just ended up there. And I heard - while I'm
> standing out there, I learned that he is not - he's going to be released to
> his daughter's - I don't know -
> 
> AG: Custody.
> 
> SF: Custody, and that he won't be going to jail. So, you know, I just lost
> all hope again. You know, it's always - it always seems like you're just let
> down all the time. And they were going to do a press release, and he was
> coming out with his lawyer, Al Flora.
> 
> AG: To do a press conference -
> 
> SF: Right.
> 
> AG: - on the steps of the courthouse.
> 
> SF: On the steps of the courthouse. So when he was coming, I just went with
> all the media and everybody that was there. And I was just there, and I had
> no idea. But when, you know, they started, "Yeah, this was not 'kids for
> cash,'" I just lost it. I don't remember what I said. I don't remember what
> came out of my mouth. All I know is that all I remember is being, you know,
> taken across the street after that, and that's all I remember.
> AG: That was Sandy Fonzo. Her son, Ed Kenzakoski, committed suicide after
> years in and out of jail. He was first sentenced at the age of 17 by Judge
> Mark Ciavarella. When we come back, we'll speak with a lawyer who helped
> hold the judges accountable and the director of the new film that tells the
> story, "Kids for Cash." Stay with us.
> [Break]
> AG: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm
> Amy Goodman. Today we're spending the hour looking at the kids-for-cash
> scandal, the shocking story of how thousands of children in Pennsylvania
> were jailed by two corrupt judges who received kickbacks from the builders
> and owners of private prisons, PA Child Care in Pittston Township and its
> sister company, Western PA Child Care in Butler County, Pennsylvania. Let's
> turn to an excerpt of the new documentary, "Kids for Cash." This clip
> features one of the jailed children, Amanda Lorah.
> AL: I was in eighth grade. I was 13. Me and this girl, we used to be
> friends. She was sitting back, calling me a slut and a whore, and "I can't
> stand you," because we weren't friends anymore. So I threw a volleyball at
> her. Then, when she walked past me, she did one of those hair kind of flips
> in my face. And then, I had - it meant it was over. We ended up fighting.
> They took me to the office, with the police officer, called my father, told
> him to come get his "crazy daughter out of their school. She's starting
> trouble."
> 
> Terry Lorah: Your kid was locked up for slapping a girl. It shouldn't have
> never went any farther than the local magistrate, if the school wasn't
> satisfied with suspending her for three days - not out to a juvenile judge.
> And then to find out it was all from greed.
> 
> AL: This lady, she pulled my dad back, and she grabbed my arm. And she's
> like, "Come with me."
> AG: That's a clip from the new film, "Kids for Cash." The film's director
> and producer, Robert May, joins us now. His past films include "The War
> Tapes," "The Station Agent" and the Oscar-winning "Fog of War."
> We're also joined by Robert Schwartz, executive director of the Juvenile Law
> Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He began by criticizing the legal
> community for failing to stop the kids-for-cash scandal.
> Robert Schwartz: There was a whole legal community passing through that
> courtroom who did nothing over a five-year period. The public defender did
> nothing. In fact, later investigations showed that they just didn't want to
> take on more cases, and they certainly didn't want to take on Judge
> Ciavarella. The private bar was in the room. They did nothing. The
> prosecutors were there for every case. They saw kids being shackled and
> dragged out of courtrooms.
> 
> AG: Now, a lot of people say, "Well, they're the prosecutor."
> 
> RS: Well, but they have an ethical obligation to see that justice is done.
> That's in the Code of Professional Responsibility. And they failed that
> code, as well. Probation officers saw that kids were being dragged out of
> the courtroom for really minor stuff. While the rest of the country was
> moving towards a treat-kids-in-the-community, de-incarcerate this juvenile
> justice system, in Judge Ciavarella's court it was exactly the opposite. It
> was: Send kids away. And one after the other was sent away.
> 
> AG: So, you already felt that the judges - this judge was guilty for sending
> away so many kids. We're talking thousands of kids.
> 
> RS: We knew that he had violated the rights of hundreds and hundreds of kids
> at the time we did our initial investigation. In the spring of 2008, we
> filed an application with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, asking them to
> reverse all of these adjudications of delinquency, these findings of guilt,
> and erase the kids' records. We asked them to exercise what we call the
> court's King's Bench jurisdiction. It would enable them to act even though
> the time for appeal had lapsed.
> 
> After we filed that petition, the FBI called our chief counsel, Marsha
> Levick, and asked what did we know. Unbeknownst to us, they had started an
> investigation of their own of Judge Conahan, the former president judge of
> Luzerne County, because of his connections with organized crime. So, there
> were a couple of threads happening at the same time that intersected and
> finally came to the public - public light in January of 2009, when the U.S.
> attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued the bills of
> information with some preliminary guilty pleas for Judge Ciavarella and
> Judge Conahan.
> 
> AG: And explain what Ciavarella was charged with and this whole issue of
> "kids for cash."
> 
> RS: Judge Ciavarella was charged with theft of unlawful services - theft of
> lawful services - you know, the theft makes it unlawful - wire fraud, tax
> evasion. And the original bill of information that he and Conahan signed
> also spoke about a quid pro quo, that he was taking money to have kids
> locked up. But what we did know for sure was that he had taken money, or was
> charged with taking money and agreed in the original plea agreements, from
> the contractor who built a new detention center in Luzerne County and from
> one of the owners of the for-profit facility that was subsequently built.
> 
> AG: Which brings us to Robert May, the director and producer of this new
> documentary, "Kids for Cash." His past films include "The War Tapes" and the
> Oscar-winning "Fog of War." You did something very unusual. You not only
> began over the next years to capture the stories of the families, of the
> parents and the kids who were sent away, but you also managed to talk to
> both judges who were convicted, but you did it well before they were
> convicted. Explain.
> 
> Robert May: Well, you know, we initially said, look, we're not going to do
> this movie unless we can get access to both the villain and the victim,
> because it would just become another story with a sort of one-dimensional
> story. And the kids' story seemed so obvious, and that there had to be more
> to the story. And we wanted to understand more what that would be.
> 
> AG: So how did you get these judges to talk?
> 
> RM: Well, it took some time, because I didn't know them at all and never met
> them before. And once I figured out how to meet with Judge Ciavarella, the
> pitch was actually quite simple. I said to him, I said, "I think there's
> sort of a one-dimensional story that is being portrayed, primarily by the
> media, that you are the kids-for-cash judge. You took money to send kids
> away. You traded kids for cash. That's it. That's what I see. That's what I
> read. That's all I see. I assume there's another side to this story."
> 
> AG: Let me go to a clip from your film, from "Kids for Cash," of former
> judge Mark Ciavarella.
> . MC: I have not told my attorney that I agreed to do this
> documentary. And maybe me doing what I'm doing is going to come back to hurt
> me, but I felt this was an opportunity for me to let people know what really
> happened. I'm not this mad judge who was just throwing kids away and
> shipping them out and locking them up and putting them in shackles. No one
> would ever look at the whole picture. They only wanted to look at a little
> bit of the picture. All the media ever focused on was "cash for kids." If
> that was something that the feds wanted to charge us with, then bring the
> charges, and we'll go to trial.
> AG: So there is Judge Mark Ciavarella. Robert May, explain these
> conversations you had with him over a period of years. He says it wasn't
> "kids for cash."
> 
> RM: Right. He - we wanted to follow the active story here, literally, and
> follow him and the other judge through the prosecution, what was all going
> to happen. And our interview process is long. It takes a long time, and
> they're very conversational. And we covered all sorts of things, from, you
> know, the time of the judges' earliest memories all the way through the
> prosecution. And so, I think we developed a level of trust where he just
> started talking to us about all of it, and in great detail.
> 
> AG: And Judge Michael Conahan, why did he decide to do this? And what about
> the relationship between these two judges? He was the so-called president
> judge?
> 
> RM: That's right. Right. Well, Michael Conahan, when he was - when he was
> judge, you know, he really was - had an immense power. He really did. And he
> was also a judge that never gave a comment to the media. He just never spoke
> to the media. So it was very unusual for us to get him, really. But he, too,
> felt that the story was portrayed as one-sided, and he wanted to take the
> opportunity to, you know, share his side of the story.
> 
> AG: This goes to the issue of zero-tolerance policy.
> 
> RS: Right.
> 
> AG: Talk about the reconsideration of that, where it's being reconsidered,
> where it isn't, even up to President Obama.
> 
> RS: Right, that's a great question. Zero-tolerance policy came into favor in
> the 1990s. Even 20 years ago, Congress passed the Gun-Free Schools Act to
> keep guns out of school, but school districts went much farther. They were
> expelling kids for very, very little. After Columbine in 1999, it got even
> worse, not in terms of legitimately dealing with the gun issue, but
> illegitimately dealing with trivial offenses in school, so administrators
> could get rid of kids that they didn't want in the classroom.
> 
> There's been a gradual backlash over the last five to 10 years, and this
> story is part of that backlash. Parents' advocates, children's lawyers, the
> Dignity in Schools Campaign and many of our colleagues have worked to undo
> really quite silly zero-tolerance policies. And in early January, the Civil
> Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the Department of Education
> in Washington, the federal agencies, issued guidance to the 15,000 or so
> school districts in the United States, saying, "You really have to be
> careful, because zero-tolerance policies are being applied incorrectly,
> without fairness, with implications for racial and ethnic disparities in our
> systems, in ways that are really hurting kids." And for the first time, we
> have the federal government saying, "Slow down. What seemed reasonable 20
> years ago, in practice, has turned out to be remarkably unreasonable and
> unfair to children and to families and to community."
> 
> AG: Robert May, what were you most surprised by in making this film? And
> this has taken you years to make.
> 
> RM: I was most surprised by the fortitude of the families and the kids, and
> how smart they really are, the families and the kids. And, you know, these
> are families, I think, that Judge Ciavarella judged as - you know, as not
> worthy or something. It's hard to say. I mean, you know, the stigma of this
> kid did something wrong, and so therefore this kid is flawed. And spending
> time with the kids and families has been amazing for me, because these are
> really smart people. They've been - these kids have been deprived an
> education - not all, but most. Hillary is the exception. She has a great
> education. She narrowly escaped not having that, however. And so, I think
> that in society we think that if a kid gets into trouble, especially if
> they're labeled a juvenile delinquent, we think, "They're just a bad kid. I
> don't want my kids to be associated with them." I mean, I have two
> teenagers. So, I used to think that way. I used to think, "Well, that kid's
> a troublemaker, gets into trouble. I don't want my kids near that kid,"
> because I judged that kid as just a bad kid - and the parents, too. They're
> all bad.
> 
> The other thing that I learned is it wasn't just the kids that went through
> the trauma. It's the parents, as well. It's the families. The families have
> gone through tremendous trauma. So - and often, you know, the kid gets
> punished for things, in some cases, that the parents are doing, as well. So,
> it's a combination of things. But I think all of the families that we
> followed in this film, even including the ones that didn't make it into the
> film, as we followed other stories, as well, will be certainly forever in my
> heart. I care about them all.
> AG: That was Robert May, the director and producer of the new documentary,
> "Kids for Cash," and Bob Schwartz, executive director of the Juvenile Law
> Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Judge Mark Ciavarella is currently
> serving a 28-year sentence, and President Judge Michael Conahan is serving
> 17 years, for taking $2.6 million from two private prisons. Ciavarella is
> serving his sentence in Illinois, Conahan in Florida. Both judges spoke to
> filmmaker Robert May before they went to jail. In October, the private
> juvenile detention companies at the heart of the kids-for-cash scandal in
> Pennsylvania settled a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million. The film, "Kids for
> Cash," is set to open in Philadelphia on Wednesday night at the Kimmel
> Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. It then opens in theaters
> nationwide. We'll post details on our website. You can also visit our
> website for our past coverage of the kids-for-cash scandal. That's
> democracynow.org.
> Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.
> 
> Amy Goodman. (photo: unknown)
> http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/4/kids_for_cash_inside_one_ofhttp://www.d
> emocracynow.org/2014/2/4/kids_for_cash_inside_one_of
> Inside the Shocking "Kids for Cash" Juvenile Justice Scandal
> By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
> 07 February 14
> oday a special on "kids for cash," the shocking story of how thousands of
> children in Pennsylvania were jailed by two corrupt judges who received $2.6
> million in kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison
> facilities. We hear from two of the youth: Charlie Balasavage was sent to
> juvenile detention after his parents unknowingly bought him a stolen
> scooter; Hillary Transue was detained for creating a MySpace page mocking
> her assistant high school principal. They were both 14 years old and were
> sentenced by the same judge, Judge Mark Ciavarella, who is now in jail
> himself - serving a 28-year sentence. Balasavage and Transue are featured in
> the new documentary, "Kids for Cash," by filmmaker Robert May, who also
> joins us. In addition, we speak to two mothers: Sandy Fonzo, whose son Ed
> Kenzakoski committed suicide after being imprisoned for years by Judge
> Ciavarella, and Hillary's mother, Laurene Transue. Putting their stories
> into context of the larger scandal is attorney Robert Schwartz, executive
> director of the Juvenile Law Center. The story is still developing: In
> October, the private juvenile-detention companies in the scandal settled a
> civil lawsuit for $2.5 million.
> This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
> Amy Goodman: Today, a special on "kids for cash," the shocking story of how
> thousands of children in Pennsylvania were jailed by two corrupt judges who
> received kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison
> facilities.
> Hillary Transue: I was known for being the jokester.
> 
> Sandy Fonzo: Eddie, he was always a fireball.
> 
> HT: We were talking about how funny it would be if we made a fake MySpace
> page about my vice principal.
> 
> Amanda Lorah: I was trying to stay out of trouble. That's when everything
> started.
> 
> Mark Ciavarella: Whatever sins you have committed, you can't go back and
> undo it.
> 
> Terrie Morgan-Besecker: Ciavarella was a no-nonsense, zero-tolerance judge.
> He always jailed kids.
> 
> MC: You are going to experience prison. I'll be glad to put you there.
> 
> Unidentified: The way Ciavarella ran the courtroom, you could have had F.
> Lee Bailey there, and the kids would have gone away.
> 
> Marsha Levick: There's a mechanism that takes over that keeps kids in that
> system.
> 
> HT: No one listened, because we were kids.
> 
> U: There was never any instance of guilt or innocence. They were locking him
> up.
> 
> ML: Really high number of kids appearing without counsel.
> 
> SF: We have no rights. He's in their custody now.
> 
> U: It is unbelievable. We're talking about children.
> 
> MC: I wanted them to be scared out of their minds. I don't understand how
> that was a bad thing.
> 
> MSNBC Reporter: Former Luzerne County judge faces charges tonight.
> 
> Gregg Jarrett: In a scandal known as "kids for cash."
> 
> ABC News Reporter: $2.6 million.
> 
> Stephen Colbert: In return for sentencing kids to juvenile detention.
> 
> MC: I've never sent a kid away for a penny. I'm not this mad judge who was
> just putting them in shackles, throwing kids away.
> 
> SF: He went there as a free-spirited kid. He came out a hardened man, I'd
> say.
> 
> Laurene Transue: Here I was saying, "We can trust that judge to be fair."
> And that's not what happened.
> 
> AL: I was scared every day.
> 
> Charlie Balasavage: I was only 14. All those years I missed.
> 
> Al Flora Jr.: This is not a cash-for-kids case.
> 
> SF: You scumbag! You ruined my life!
> 
> AL: I still wake up from nightmares.
> AG: That's the trailer for "Kids for Cash," a new documentary years in the
> making, features interviews with the children, with the parents and two
> judges at the heart of the scandal. The film is set to open in Philadelphia
> Wednesday at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
> Well, on Monday, I spoke to a number of people featured in the film,
> including Charlie Balasavage and Hillary Transue. They were both 14 years
> old when they were sentenced to juvenile detention. I began the interview
> with Hillary Transue and her mother Laurene. Hillary was sent to juvenile
> detention after she created a MySpace page mocking her assistant high school
> principal. Her mother Laurene called the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia
> for help and sparked an investigation that exposed the kids-for-cash
> scandal. I asked Hillary how it all began.
> HT: I believe it was 2007 when I was on the phone with a friend, and we were
> just chatting, and I heard a call from the bottom of the stairs. My mother
> sounded irate, and she yelled up to me, "Do you know anything about a
> MySpace page?" And I said, "Yeah, from like months ago."
> 
> AG: How old were you?
> 
> HT: I was 15.
> 
> AG: What was this MySpace page?
> 
> HT: It was a parody page about my vice principal. A couple of friends and I
> decided it would be funny to make fun of the school disciplinarian on the
> Internet, and so we created this page. And I remember putting a disclaimer
> on it, thinking if anybody finds this, at least I can't get in trouble for
> it.
> 
> AG: And you said things like - you talked about her and said, "She spends
> most of her time reading silly teen magazines, daydreaming about Johnny Depp
> in nothing but tighty whiteys. Ooh, la la"?
> 
> HT: Yes, yes.
> 
> AG: And so, this was what your mother was yelling up to you about?
> 
> HT: Yes. I mean, there were comments on there made by other kids that were
> not - that were obscene. And I will admit to that. But they were not my
> comments. I do believe - I think I was held responsible for them because
> they were on the page. And -
> 
> AG: So, what happened?
> 
> HT: Well, I mean, a lot of it is on my mom's end. She was on the phone with
> a police officer, and I didn't really understand what was going on.
> 
> AG: Laurene, can you tell us what happened with this phone call?
> 
> LT: Sure. The officer called, asked me if Hillary is my daughter. I said,
> "Yes." He said, "Well, I'm coming down to arrest her for making a MySpace
> page about her vice principal." So I yelled up to Hillary, "Do you know
> anything about a MySpace page and your assistant principal?" And she's like,
> "Yeah, from like months ago," at which point the officer started shouting,
> "I heard her! She confessed! I'm coming down there. I'm arresting her." And
> I'm like, "Woah, you're not speaking to my daughter without an attorney. At
> least give me time to get an attorney." And he started shouting that that's
> how parents like me are: We let our kids off the hook. And because I was
> getting attorneys involved, he was going to charge her with Internet
> stalking, abuse of the Internet. He told me that they've been watching my
> Internet activity and that he was coming down to arrest her. So -
> 
> AG: What about the lawyer for your daughter?
> 
> LT: Well, I got off the phone, and I'm like - now I'm thinking, "Where am I
> going to find a lawyer at this time of night?" And like, I, you know -
> 
> AG: What time was it?
> 
> LT: It was after I had come home from work, so it was in the evening. And I
> don't know any lawyers. We're not the kind of folks that have a lawyer on
> retainer. So I called my mom, and I said, "Do you know an attorney?" And
> she's like, "Well, I do, but, like, not for this. And you're overreacting.
> This sounds like a very simple thing that happened. Call the officer back
> and try and talk to him. Just, you know, follow the law, be cooperative."
> I'm like, "OK."
> 
> So I called the officer back, and he said, "Hey, you keep the lawyers out of
> it, and I'll reduce her charges to a misdemeanor of harassment." And I'm
> like, "Oh, OK, all right, we can do that. Are you still coming down? Can you
> wait 'til, you know, I have at least someone here while you arrest her or
> whatever?" And he said, "Oh, no, I don't have to come down. We'll send you
> something in the mail." And then, that was in January, and we didn't hear
> anything for months. In fact, I kept calling him, saying, "Where - like, we
> haven't received anything."
> 
> AG: So when did you hear, and what happened?
> 
> LT: We did get a paper in the mail. We had to go to juvenile probation. We
> had to do an interview there, bring all of her shot records, birth
> certificate, all that kind of thing, my financial information. They asked us
> some very intimate questions, which was odd.
> 
> AG: You have no lawyer.
> 
> LT: No, no lawyer. Again, I was told to keep the lawyer out of it, and
> everything will go simply. And we asked the probation officer, "What's going
> to happen now?" And he said, "Well, it'll probably be probation and possibly
> community service." "OK, you know, do we get a lawyer?" Like, "No, no, no,
> no. That - you know, we've done the study, you'll go to court, whatever."
> "OK."
> 
> So then we went to court, and we walked in, and they had tables set up by
> last name. And we went to the table there, and they said, "Do you have an
> attorney with you?" And I said, "No." They said, "Sign here." So now I'm
> assuming, "Oh, this is where we get a public defender." And so I signed this
> blank form and signed - but you also have to understand that there were
> dozens of other parents there with their children at their last-name table
> doing the same exact thing. So I'm like, "OK, this is how it works."
> 
> Then we went in a big room, and we waited, and we thought the attorneys
> would meet us there. No one came. They said, "We're going in the courtroom."
> We sat right outside the courtroom. No attorneys came. The prosecutor came
> out. The assistant principal was there. She gave him a kiss on both cheeks,
> asked him how the family was. And he said, "Don't worry about a thing." And
> we walked into the courtroom. They said, "This is the case of," and the
> judge stood up and started screaming at Hillary.
> 
> AG: The judge was?
> 
> LT: Mark Ciavarella, former judge.
> 
> AG: What was he screaming at you, Hillary?
> 
> HT: The first thing he said to me was: "What makes you think you can do this
> kind of crap?" And it was - it was really off-putting. I was there that day
> in my mother's clothing, because she insisted that I look nice, and, you
> know, at 15 years old, I didn't have anything appropriate. And, you know,
> I'm already uncomfortable, and he started screaming at me, "What makes you
> think you can do this kind of crap?" And I was just terrified. I don't - I
> have never been before a judge before, and I wasn't expecting to be screamed
> at by one. So it definitely was jarring.
> 
> AG: And what happened?
> 
> HT: I mean, it took about 30 seconds, so it's hard for me to have exact
> details, but he said something along the lines of "Adjudicated delinquent,"
> which meant nothing to me. And then I remember - I remember my mother's
> hands leaving my shoulders, and I remember gliding as if in like a dreamlike
> sort of state to this back room, where I'm - all I can hear is the sound of
> my mother's pleading, her wailing and pleading, and I'm being cuffed. And
> the bailiff is saying -
> 
> AG: You're being handcuffed?
> 
> HT: Yes. And the bailiff says, "Look what you did to your mother." And it's
> - just like I said, it's sort of like time stopped, and I began to veer of
> to this like parallel universe.
> 
> AG: Laurene, did you - did the judge hand down a sentence right there?
> 
> LT: Oh, yes. He said, "Adjudicated delinquent." And he said, "Send her up to
> FACT AdDel for her to think about what she's done." And I just started - I
> looked at the officer, and I'm like, "But that's not what you said." And I'm
> like looking at these people who have said, you know, this - it will be
> probation, possibly community service. And I'm thinking this is crazy,
> because I had called a - in Pennsylvania, we have magistrates. And I asked,
> you know, "My daughter's been accused with this statute of Pennsylvania
> law." I said, "As an adult, what would be the maximum sentence?" One night
> in jail and up to a $50 fine. So why on earth would think they would take my
> daughter, who's never been in trouble? We had no family issues. We were not
> involved with the system in any way. Why would I think they would take my
> daughter away? So, basically, I started, you know, asking him, and then I
> just started - I became hysterical. This is the best way I can explain it.
> And I -
> 
> AG: You saw your daughter handcuffed?
> 
> LT: No, she was like - it was very odd, because my hands were on her
> shoulders, and as soon as he said, "Adjudicated delinquent," I really didn't
> hear anything else. I had been a caseworker for 16 years, and I knew exactly
> what that meant. So, I turned and was talking to them, and when I turned
> again, it was like - it was like she had evaporated. She was just gone.
> 
> AG: I wanted to turn to our other guest in studio right now. Charlie
> Balasavage, talk about what happened to you. So, Hillary was 15. How old
> were you when police first came to your house?
> 
> CB: I was 14.
> 
> AG: How old are you now?
> 
> CB: I'm 23.
> 
> AG: So you're 14 years old, and the police came over.
> 
> CB: Yes.
> 
> AG: Why?
> 
> CB: At first, I thought it would be because I was riding this scooter around
> without a helmet on, because, you know - and ended up it wasn't that. It was
> that someone had called, reported that scooter stolen.
> 
> AG: Where did you get the scooter?
> 
> CB: My parents bought it off of a family member.
> 
> AG: They bought it for you from a family member?
> 
> CB: Yeah, they bought it for me. So, my parents weren't home at the time, so
> I had to call them. They rushed home, and the cops -
> 
> AG: The police were there?
> 
> CB: Yeah, the police were there. The cops arrested all three of us and took
> us down to the police station. And we had to write a statement and
> everything. We told them what happened, that we bought it. And they said,
> unfortunately, because we didn't have no documentation saying that they
> bought it from my family member, that they're going to have to charge with
> receiving stolen property. And so, they said to my parents, you know, if I
> take the charges, maybe I'll get probation, maybe not even, just community
> service. So I agreed to it. I was like, "OK, you know, I'll do that,"
> because otherwise my parents were going to get charged with it.
> 
> AG: Did you have a lawyer with you?
> 
> CB: No, no lawyer. This was all the cops' suggestion, too, that I take the
> charges, nothing will happen, you know. And so, I was like, "OK." And I
> ended up having to go into court, and when I went into court, it was the
> same thing. You walk up to that table. They have that form.
> 
> AG: Your mom was with you?
> 
> CB: Yeah, my mom was with me. She signed it. We didn't have a lawyer at all.
> We thought also we'd get a public defender. That's not what happened. We
> walked into the courtroom. We were really in there for maybe a minute. And
> the judge already knew what he was going to do with me. I mean -
> 
> AG: This judge was named?
> 
> CB: Ciavarella. And I really don't even remember what he - oh, he said,
> clearly, that I have a behavior problem, because I had a speech impediment
> when I was younger, and because of it, I was made fun of a lot in school, so
> I had a problem going to school, and he had records of that. So, that was my
> big problem. He sentenced me to three months in Camp Adams.
> 
> AG: Camp Adams?
> 
> CB: Yeah, Camp Adams.
> 
> AG: It's called Camp Adams.
> 
> CB: Yeah, it's like a boot camp, pretty much.
> 
> AG: Had you ever been detained before?
> 
> CB: No.
> 
> AG: Did you know where you were going?
> 
> CB: No. They shackled me right there in front of my mother and hauled me
> off.
> 
> AG: And how long did you serve in jail?
> 
> CB: It was the three months I had to do in Camp Adams. Then they do a
> follow-up where I have to go back to court. And when I went back to court, I
> ended up having to go to a place called Clearbrook for three months, because
> I experimented with marijuana. And I -
> 
> AG: [Inaudible]
> 
> CB: Yeah, and I was truthful with them and told them that, yeah, I tried it
> before. So, apparently, I had a drug problem at that time, so they made me
> do another three months there.
> 
> AG: When you first went to jail, you talk in the film, ["Kids for Cash"],
> about having to earn a pillow?
> 
> CB: Oh, yeah. That was for my first two weeks at Camp Adams. They have like
> a system. Your first 30 days there, you're a - it's called like a ranger.
> You do nothing but like physical training and stuff like that. And yeah,
> every time I would ask for a pillow, no one would ever get me one. And
> finally, once I moved past that ranger stage, they moved me to a different
> cabin. I finally got a pillow. So -
> 
> AG: So, ultimately, how long did you serve in prison?
> 
> CB: Altogether? It was about five years.
> 
> AG: Five years.
> 
> CB: Yeah.
> 
> AG: How did you end up in jail for five years, on and off?
> 
> CB: Parole - probation violations.
> 
> AG: So you would get out?
> 
> CB: Yeah, I would get out. I would not go to school or something, like
> curfew.
> 
> AG: How did jail affect you?
> 
> CB: I mean, I was in there with people that - people that actually belong
> there, that I've heard things, and, like, I guess I could say I was
> influenced, I mean, by these people. Even staff would say to me, "What are
> you doing here? Why are you here?" And I would say, "I don't know."
> AG: That was Charlie Balasavage, one of thousands of children convicted in
> the kids-for-cash scandal in Pennsylvania. We also heard from Hillary
> Transue and her mom Laurene. All three are featured in the new documentary,
> "Kids for Cash," that's premiering in Philadelphia Wednesday night, looking
> at how two judges, Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, took kickbacks from
> private prisons. In our next segment, we'll speak with Sandy Fonzo. Her son
> Ed is not with her. You'll find out why. We'll be back in a minute.
> [Break]
> AG: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm
> Amy Goodman. As we continue our special on "kids for cash," the shocking
> story of how thousands of children in Pennsylvania were jailed by two
> corrupt judges who received kickbacks from the builders and owners of
> private prison facilities, we return to our conversation with some of the
> people featured in the new documentary, "Kids for Cash." In this segment, we
> continue speaking with Laurene Transue, whose daughter Hillary was sentenced
> to juvenile detention for making a MySpace page that mocked her assistant
> principal. But first we turn to Sandy Fonzo. Her 17-year-old son, Ed
> Kenzakoski, was sentenced to 30 days in a juvenile boot camp by Judge Mark
> Ciavarella. I began by asking Sandy to describe how her son Ed first came to
> be arrested.
> SF: Just a regular, normal, happy life we had. And the summer of his senior
> year, what would have been his senior year, he started, you know,
> experimenting a little, too, and sneaking out of the house at night. I knew
> he was drinking. I always - you know, it was just me and him. So when I did
> have a problem with him, it was always, you know, "I'm going to call your
> dad, and your dad's going to come." But now he's, you know -
> 
> AG: He was a star wrestler?
> 
> SF: Yeah, star wrestler. I mean, the scouts were all looking at him, many
> opportunities for scholarships. They were watching him since he was in
> junior high wrestling for high school. He just had a lot - a lot before him,
> you know, a lot of good. You know, he had a girlfriend at the time that was
> telling me stuff about him experimenting and, you know, just getting a
> little bit out of control. I would call his dad, and his dad couldn't do
> anything anymore. You know, he was this big kid, you know, six-one and big
> muscles. He would lift all the time. And not doing anything than any other -
> you know, than what I did at 17 years old, either. But he just had so much
> to lose.
> 
> And it got to the point that his dad called one day, and Ed wasn't home. You
> know, he was supposed to be home in school, he's supposed to be in school.
> And he found out that he was at an underage drinking party. And he had
> friends that he graduated with that were cops, so he talked to them, and
> they were going to go in and put some, you know, paraphernalia on him just
> to get him caught, get him a slap on the wrist, let him - you know,
> community service, educational program, anything to let him know what - you
> know, he has just too much, too much to lose. And this is his senior year.
> He's wrestled since he was four years old. And so, that's what happened.
> They went and got him, and they took him in. He sat two -
> 
> AG: They planted drug paraphernalia?
> 
> SF: Drug paraphernalia, marijuana pipe.
> 
> AG: In his truck?
> 
> SF: Yes. And so -
> 
> AG: A marijuana pipe.
> 
> SF: Right. And so, you know, I get the call that he's down at the police
> station. Juvenile court isn't until Tuesday, so for the weekend he had to
> stay in jail. Tuesday comes along, and now all along, you know, we're
> talking to the probation people. We're talking, actually, to the judge also.
> There was a sit-down in - you know, with these cops and -
> 
> AG: Judge Ciavarella?
> 
> SF: Judge Ciavarella, that this was all, you know, in his best interest just
> to get him a little slap on the wrist, wise him up, scare him straight. He's
> a great kid. He has a great future ahead of him. And yeah, we know. There's,
> you know, nothing you have to worry about. We don't need a lawyer - the same
> story. You got off the elevator, and they were there. "Do you have a
> lawyer?" "No, we were told we don't need one." "OK, sign." And that was it.
> 
> I don't know. I was just very naive. And, I mean, I was - never in my
> wildest dreams would I think these people that are supposed to have - you
> know, they were the professionals. They have your child's interest at best -
> best at heart. And these are the people that you trust, and everything's
> going to be OK. You know, he's going to learn a little lesson, and
> everything will be fine.
> 
> And we stood there, and in 30 seconds he was cuffed and shackled and taken
> away. And, I mean, that was the worst feeling, seeing him turn and look at
> me like, you know, "What's going on?" And there was nothing I can do. That's
> frozen into my psyche for the rest of my life, that look that was on his
> face. They took him to the PA Child Care and said that he would be there
> until he got this psychological evaluation, which we all know was Judge
> Conahan's son-in-law, brother-in-law?
> 
> LT: I think it was son-in-law.
> 
> SF: Yeah, that was doing these psychological evaluations. Well, it was a
> whole 30 days -
> 
> AG: The other judge who ended up being convicted.
> 
> SF: The president judge that made Judge Ciavarella the juvenile justice
> judge, yeah. So, he sat in there for 30 days, got his psychological
> evaluation.
> 
> AG: Were you able to see him there?
> 
> SF: Yes, you were allowed on certain days and certain times to go see him
> and talk to him. And he wanted nothing more. "Mom, I know, you know, this
> was so stupid. I just want to get back. I've missed so much wrestling
> practice. This is my senior year." All he wanted to do was get back to
> school. I had letters from the teachers, letters from the judges - or, I'm
> sorry, from the coaches, in lieu of Ed's character, of what a great kid he
> was, sent to the judge's chambers. And anyway, we had to go. So, we're going
> now for 30 days, you know, and I thought to myself, "OK, you know, this was
> good. He sat there. He got his head together. He wants to get back to
> school. Everything's good."
> 
> Well, we went and stood back in front of that judge, and he was shackled and
> cuffed and taken to a boot camp out in - it was Northwestern Boot Academy,
> an hour away from our house, total military. They couldn't speak. They
> couldn't do anything. They were dressed in military attire. He was with, you
> know, people from all over that committed actual - when he would tell me the
> crimes that were committed, this is whom my son was in with. They broke you
> down, I mean tore you apart, humiliated you. He wouldn't tell me what
> happened when he was in there.
> 
> AG: How long was he sent - did Judge Ciavarella -
> 
> SF: Three months. He went in there for three months. And then, from there,
> because Ciavarella said he had a drug problem, then he would have to go to
> Clearbrook, which was, you know, a rehabilitation for addictions. By the
> time my son got there, if he ever did have a problem with drugs or alcohol,
> he was never treated, because they said, "This kid has spent so much time
> already, we can't even keep him." So then he was just released and thrown
> back out. "Get back your life." No school, because they gave him that amount
> of schooling in there, so he never got to go back to his high school, never
> got to wrestle. He was a just - he was a mess when he came out of there. He
> -
> 
> AG: Lost all chance of scholarship.
> 
> SF: He wouldn't talk about what happened in there. He -
> 
> AG: How long had he been altogether now in jail, prison?
> 
> SF: Three, four - he was one month there, three months there, and - five
> months, approximately. But he came out of there a changed person. Like I
> said, he was a 17-year-old, free-spirited boy, and he came out a hardened
> man that wouldn't even talk about what in - so, to this day, I don't know
> what happened to him in there, but he would never talk about it. But he was
> just a different person. You know, he - very bottled up, you know, wouldn't
> speak, and no respect for the justice system at all. He knew he was wronged.
> He knew what was taken away. He lost his little girlfriend while he was in
> there. She left him for somebody, you know. He just lost, in that age, at
> that impressionable age, way too much. He had way too much taken from him,
> everything his - everything he had, really.
> 
> And he ended up getting into a fight while he was still on probation, so he
> would have to go in front of Judge Ciavarella again. And now Ciavarella
> takes him for four months and sends him to his other facility out in the PA
> Child Care in western Pennsylvania for four months now - loses his job,
> loses everything again. The people that worked there couldn't understand why
> this almost 20-year-old is doing in this juvenile facility. Nobody
> understood. But he came out of there, and, I mean, that was it. He ended up
> in a fight, which he had to go into - and the fight that he did get into,
> that we took to adult court, was thrown out. It was just a fight between two
> kids. It was nothing. But Ciavarella, you know, four months, he went to his
> other facility that they were receiving profit for. And that was it. He got
> into the fight. He was sentenced to a state prison for it, and he came out.
> He lasted for almost five months, and then - that's it.
> 
> AG: Then he shot himself.
> 
> SF: Yeah, in his heart.
> 
> AG: We're talking to Sandy Fonzo. She is talking about her son, Ed
> Kenzakoski, who took his own life after an ordeal that lasted years, when he
> ended up originally in the court of Judge Ciavarella. In the midst of what
> you were saying, Sandy, you said you came to know that Judge Ciavarella was
> now being investigated, even though your son Ed would continue to be his
> victim. That takes us back to Laurene Transue now, because when Hillary was
> taken away from you in shackles, you started to investigate the judge
> yourself. Explain what happened - or at least take some action yourself.
> 
> LT: Well, so, in the beginning, it was all about my daughter. So I don't
> know that any of this other stuff is going on. What happened is, when they
> finally let me go from the room I was in immediately following the hearing,
> they allowed me - actually, they called my husband using my phone. And it
> was cold, very cold that day for April, and they sat me outside the
> courthouse in a metal chair and told me I was not allowed to come back in.
> So, as I sat there, I'm like, "But I don't - I don't know anything. Like,
> where is she? Where's my information?" And they handed me a business card
> from the probation department with a man's first name on the back of it and
> told me that that's who I should contact. But I had no idea who that was.
> 
> So my husband came and picked me up. But you're really in a state of shock
> when this happens, because it's so ridiculous, so - just you can't fathom
> it. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. So that first afternoon, my
> father, my stepmother came, my mother was calling me. They kept saying to
> me, "She had to have done something more. There has to be more to this." And
> I'm like, there really -
> 
> AG: More than a MySpace page -
> 
> LT: Yeah, like - and I'm like, "No, really, like there" -
> 
> AG: - making fun of her assistant principal.
> 
> LT: Mm-hmm. I said, "There really is nothing else." And so I just cried and
> cried and cried and cried. And finally, my father said to me, "This is not
> the" - they call me Laurie in my family. He says, "This is not the Laurie I
> know. She wouldn't just sit here and give up." And I'm like, "But, Dad, this
> is a judge. Like, what am I going to do?" He goes, "Well, you're going to
> fight."
> 
> So I called the name on the back of the card, and it turned out it was a
> public defender in our county. And he laughed at me when I said, "You have
> to file an appeal. This is insane." He goes, "Ciavarella doesn't allow
> appeals." So, I'm like, "Are you telling me that we can't appeal or just
> that it's pointless or it's not allowed? Like, what are you saying?" He
> goes, "Well, it's pointless, but Ciavarella wouldn't even like schedule it
> for you." I'm like, "OK." So I called the public defender's office in
> Harrisburg. Pennsylvania is a commonwealth, so things run a little bit
> differently in a commonwealth. I called the public defender's office -
> 
> AG: In the capital, Harrisburg.
> 
> LT: In the capital. And they told me, "Well, no, of course juveniles can
> have appeals, but we're not getting involved in a county matter. OK, so I
> called the governor's action line. And they were like, "Oh, we'll - you
> know, we'll make note of this." I said, "Well, who else can I call?" "Try
> the ACLU."
> 
> So I called the ACLU. I explained the situation. They said, "Absolutely, you
> have a case here. She had a right to put whatever she wants on MySpace,
> especially a parody. And she put a disclaimer that that's what it is. And
> we'd be happy to take that case, but we're not going to get involved in this
> county placement thing and custody." And I'm like, "But now what do I do?"
> "Well, we have some other numbers," one of which was a woman at Rutgers in
> New Jersey. So I was like, "OK, I'm a Jersey girl. Maybe I'll get lucky
> there." So I called there, and the woman was so sympathetic, and she said,
> "Listen, I know somebody. A friend of mine works at Juvenile Law Center in
> Philadelphia, and since you're in Pennsylvania, maybe they can help you."
> 
> So I called Juvenile Law Center, and I kind of gave them the information.
> And the person I spoke to, his name was Laval, and he was very, very
> soft-spoken, not excitable at all. So I didn't know how to read him. And he
> said that he would check with Marsha Levick, who was the head of the
> Juvenile Law Center, and find out if they could take Hillary's case. So I
> said, "OK." And he would call me back. Well, the next day, he hadn't called
> back, and so my father said, "You give me that number," and he called them.
> 
> The next thing I know, they were calling me, saying, yes, they were willing
> to take the case, but not for me. They would not be my attorney. They
> represent children, and they would represent Hillary as long as I was
> agreeable and Hillary was agreeable. Would I - would it be OK if they met
> with her? I'm like, "Yeah, absolutely." And I said, "Listen, just let me
> know how much I have to pay, because, like, I do have a house. I don't have
> much equity, but I can get some loans and get some money together." And
> they're like, "No, I don't think you understand. We're here for children. We
> want to help your daughter. Don't worry about any of that." I said, "OK." So
> they went and saw Hillary. And for the first time, we had hope. I still
> couldn't see her for three weeks. I was allowed a one-minute phone call.
> 
> AG: You could not see your 15-year-old daughter for three weeks?
> 
> LT: No, no.
> 
> AG: One minute? Sixty seconds?
> 
> LT: Yes, that first phone call was the two of us sobbing, hysterical, both
> apologizing to the other. It was a conversation of "I'm sorry," "No, I'm
> sorry, Mom," "No, Hillary, it's my fault. I'm so sorry." That was our one
> minute, and then it was over. And then the next week, I think we got five
> minutes, and the next week was eight minutes.
> 
> HT: I think it was just eight minutes.
> 
> LT: But somebody is there listening, and if she started to talk about
> anything to do with a lawyer and getting out of there, they cut her off.
> 
> AG: I want to fast-forward to 2011. Judge Ciavarella is charged, tried and
> convicted. It's eight years after Sandy Fonzo's son first was confronted by
> the judge and sent away. And so, after Judge Ciavarella is convicted, Sandy
> Fonzo, who has now lost her son, Ed Kenzakoski - he shot himself in the
> heart - she confronts the judge.
> AFJ: This is not a cash-for-kids case, and we hope somebody starts getting
> the message.
> SF: Oh, it wasn't? Because my kid's not here anymore! My kids not here! He's
> dead! Because of him! He ruined my [bleep] life! I'd like him to go to hell
> and rot there forever!
> Security Guard: Ma'am, come on.
> SF: No! You know what he told everybody in court? They need to be held
> accountable for their actions. You need to be! Do you remember me? Do you
> remember me? Do you remember my son? An all-star wrestler? He's gone! He
> shot himself in the heart! You scumbag!
> AG: Talk about that, Sandy. What happened? You were there for his trial?
> 
> SF: I planned on being, and then when it came up, I couldn't get myself to
> go and sit there and look at him and hear the lies. And I kept myself away
> until the day of the guilty - you know, when he was found guilty, I wanted
> to be there. I was actually working, and I kept getting messages from
> everybody that he's found guilty of this, he's found guilty of that, you
> know, and I'm having a panic attack. And they're going to take him. They're
> going to shackle him, and they're going to take him, and he's going away
> today. So, every - I was a mess by now, an emotional train wreck. And
> everybody at work was like, "Go." I just wanted to be there. I wanted to see
> him come out of there in shackles, and I wanted to see him go away.
> 
> And I don't know how, I got myself there. Somehow I drove myself there.
> Nobody knew I was there. And I - everybody thought I was at work. I don't
> remember the ride at all. I just ended up there. And I heard - while I'm
> standing out there, I learned that he is not - he's going to be released to
> his daughter's - I don't know -
> 
> AG: Custody.
> 
> SF: Custody, and that he won't be going to jail. So, you know, I just lost
> all hope again. You know, it's always - it always seems like you're just let
> down all the time. And they were going to do a press release, and he was
> coming out with his lawyer, Al Flora.
> 
> AG: To do a press conference -
> 
> SF: Right.
> 
> AG: - on the steps of the courthouse.
> 
> SF: On the steps of the courthouse. So when he was coming, I just went with
> all the media and everybody that was there. And I was just there, and I had
> no idea. But when, you know, they started, "Yeah, this was not 'kids for
> cash,'" I just lost it. I don't remember what I said. I don't remember what
> came out of my mouth. All I know is that all I remember is being, you know,
> taken across the street after that, and that's all I remember.
> AG: That was Sandy Fonzo. Her son, Ed Kenzakoski, committed suicide after
> years in and out of jail. He was first sentenced at the age of 17 by Judge
> Mark Ciavarella. When we come back, we'll speak with a lawyer who helped
> hold the judges accountable and the director of the new film that tells the
> story, "Kids for Cash." Stay with us.
> [Break]
> AG: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm
> Amy Goodman. Today we're spending the hour looking at the kids-for-cash
> scandal, the shocking story of how thousands of children in Pennsylvania
> were jailed by two corrupt judges who received kickbacks from the builders
> and owners of private prisons, PA Child Care in Pittston Township and its
> sister company, Western PA Child Care in Butler County, Pennsylvania. Let's
> turn to an excerpt of the new documentary, "Kids for Cash." This clip
> features one of the jailed children, Amanda Lorah.
> AL: I was in eighth grade. I was 13. Me and this girl, we used to be
> friends. She was sitting back, calling me a slut and a whore, and "I can't
> stand you," because we weren't friends anymore. So I threw a volleyball at
> her. Then, when she walked past me, she did one of those hair kind of flips
> in my face. And then, I had - it meant it was over. We ended up fighting.
> They took me to the office, with the police officer, called my father, told
> him to come get his "crazy daughter out of their school. She's starting
> trouble."
> 
> Terry Lorah: Your kid was locked up for slapping a girl. It shouldn't have
> never went any farther than the local magistrate, if the school wasn't
> satisfied with suspending her for three days - not out to a juvenile judge.
> And then to find out it was all from greed.
> 
> AL: This lady, she pulled my dad back, and she grabbed my arm. And she's
> like, "Come with me."
> AG: That's a clip from the new film, "Kids for Cash." The film's director
> and producer, Robert May, joins us now. His past films include "The War
> Tapes," "The Station Agent" and the Oscar-winning "Fog of War."
> We're also joined by Robert Schwartz, executive director of the Juvenile Law
> Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He began by criticizing the legal
> community for failing to stop the kids-for-cash scandal.
> Robert Schwartz: There was a whole legal community passing through that
> courtroom who did nothing over a five-year period. The public defender did
> nothing. In fact, later investigations showed that they just didn't want to
> take on more cases, and they certainly didn't want to take on Judge
> Ciavarella. The private bar was in the room. They did nothing. The
> prosecutors were there for every case. They saw kids being shackled and
> dragged out of courtrooms.
> 
> AG: Now, a lot of people say, "Well, they're the prosecutor."
> 
> RS: Well, but they have an ethical obligation to see that justice is done.
> That's in the Code of Professional Responsibility. And they failed that
> code, as well. Probation officers saw that kids were being dragged out of
> the courtroom for really minor stuff. While the rest of the country was
> moving towards a treat-kids-in-the-community, de-incarcerate this juvenile
> justice system, in Judge Ciavarella's court it was exactly the opposite. It
> was: Send kids away. And one after the other was sent away.
> 
> AG: So, you already felt that the judges - this judge was guilty for sending
> away so many kids. We're talking thousands of kids.
> 
> RS: We knew that he had violated the rights of hundreds and hundreds of kids
> at the time we did our initial investigation. In the spring of 2008, we
> filed an application with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, asking them to
> reverse all of these adjudications of delinquency, these findings of guilt,
> and erase the kids' records. We asked them to exercise what we call the
> court's King's Bench jurisdiction. It would enable them to act even though
> the time for appeal had lapsed.
> 
> After we filed that petition, the FBI called our chief counsel, Marsha
> Levick, and asked what did we know. Unbeknownst to us, they had started an
> investigation of their own of Judge Conahan, the former president judge of
> Luzerne County, because of his connections with organized crime. So, there
> were a couple of threads happening at the same time that intersected and
> finally came to the public - public light in January of 2009, when the U.S.
> attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued the bills of
> information with some preliminary guilty pleas for Judge Ciavarella and
> Judge Conahan.
> 
> AG: And explain what Ciavarella was charged with and this whole issue of
> "kids for cash."
> 
> RS: Judge Ciavarella was charged with theft of unlawful services - theft of
> lawful services - you know, the theft makes it unlawful - wire fraud, tax
> evasion. And the original bill of information that he and Conahan signed
> also spoke about a quid pro quo, that he was taking money to have kids
> locked up. But what we did know for sure was that he had taken money, or was
> charged with taking money and agreed in the original plea agreements, from
> the contractor who built a new detention center in Luzerne County and from
> one of the owners of the for-profit facility that was subsequently built.
> 
> AG: Which brings us to Robert May, the director and producer of this new
> documentary, "Kids for Cash." His past films include "The War Tapes" and the
> Oscar-winning "Fog of War." You did something very unusual. You not only
> began over the next years to capture the stories of the families, of the
> parents and the kids who were sent away, but you also managed to talk to
> both judges who were convicted, but you did it well before they were
> convicted. Explain.
> 
> Robert May: Well, you know, we initially said, look, we're not going to do
> this movie unless we can get access to both the villain and the victim,
> because it would just become another story with a sort of one-dimensional
> story. And the kids' story seemed so obvious, and that there had to be more
> to the story. And we wanted to understand more what that would be.
> 
> AG: So how did you get these judges to talk?
> 
> RM: Well, it took some time, because I didn't know them at all and never met
> them before. And once I figured out how to meet with Judge Ciavarella, the
> pitch was actually quite simple. I said to him, I said, "I think there's
> sort of a one-dimensional story that is being portrayed, primarily by the
> media, that you are the kids-for-cash judge. You took money to send kids
> away. You traded kids for cash. That's it. That's what I see. That's what I
> read. That's all I see. I assume there's another side to this story."
> 
> AG: Let me go to a clip from your film, from "Kids for Cash," of former
> judge Mark Ciavarella.
> MC: I have not told my attorney that I agreed to do this documentary. And
> maybe me doing what I'm doing is going to come back to hurt me, but I felt
> this was an opportunity for me to let people know what really happened. I'm
> not this mad judge who was just throwing kids away and shipping them out and
> locking them up and putting them in shackles. No one would ever look at the
> whole picture. They only wanted to look at a little bit of the picture. All
> the media ever focused on was "cash for kids." If that was something that
> the feds wanted to charge us with, then bring the charges, and we'll go to
> trial.
> AG: So there is Judge Mark Ciavarella. Robert May, explain these
> conversations you had with him over a period of years. He says it wasn't
> "kids for cash."
> 
> RM: Right. He - we wanted to follow the active story here, literally, and
> follow him and the other judge through the prosecution, what was all going
> to happen. And our interview process is long. It takes a long time, and
> they're very conversational. And we covered all sorts of things, from, you
> know, the time of the judges' earliest memories all the way through the
> prosecution. And so, I think we developed a level of trust where he just
> started talking to us about all of it, and in great detail.
> 
> AG: And Judge Michael Conahan, why did he decide to do this? And what about
> the relationship between these two judges? He was the so-called president
> judge?
> 
> RM: That's right. Right. Well, Michael Conahan, when he was - when he was
> judge, you know, he really was - had an immense power. He really did. And he
> was also a judge that never gave a comment to the media. He just never spoke
> to the media. So it was very unusual for us to get him, really. But he, too,
> felt that the story was portrayed as one-sided, and he wanted to take the
> opportunity to, you know, share his side of the story.
> 
> AG: This goes to the issue of zero-tolerance policy.
> 
> RS: Right.
> 
> AG: Talk about the reconsideration of that, where it's being reconsidered,
> where it isn't, even up to President Obama.
> 
> RS: Right, that's a great question. Zero-tolerance policy came into favor in
> the 1990s. Even 20 years ago, Congress passed the Gun-Free Schools Act to
> keep guns out of school, but school districts went much farther. They were
> expelling kids for very, very little. After Columbine in 1999, it got even
> worse, not in terms of legitimately dealing with the gun issue, but
> illegitimately dealing with trivial offenses in school, so administrators
> could get rid of kids that they didn't want in the classroom.
> 
> There's been a gradual backlash over the last five to 10 years, and this
> story is part of that backlash. Parents' advocates, children's lawyers, the
> Dignity in Schools Campaign and many of our colleagues have worked to undo
> really quite silly zero-tolerance policies. And in early January, the Civil
> Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the Department of Education
> in Washington, the federal agencies, issued guidance to the 15,000 or so
> school districts in the United States, saying, "You really have to be
> careful, because zero-tolerance policies are being applied incorrectly,
> without fairness, with implications for racial and ethnic disparities in our
> systems, in ways that are really hurting kids." And for the first time, we
> have the federal government saying, "Slow down. What seemed reasonable 20
> years ago, in practice, has turned out to be remarkably unreasonable and
> unfair to children and to families and to community."
> 
> AG: Robert May, what were you most surprised by in making this film? And
> this has taken you years to make.
> 
> RM: I was most surprised by the fortitude of the families and the kids, and
> how smart they really are, the families and the kids. And, you know, these
> are families, I think, that Judge Ciavarella judged as - you know, as not
> worthy or something. It's hard to say. I mean, you know, the stigma of this
> kid did something wrong, and so therefore this kid is flawed. And spending
> time with the kids and families has been amazing for me, because these are
> really smart people. They've been - these kids have been deprived an
> education - not all, but most. Hillary is the exception. She has a great
> education. She narrowly escaped not having that, however. And so, I think
> that in society we think that if a kid gets into trouble, especially if
> they're labeled a juvenile delinquent, we think, "They're just a bad kid. I
> don't want my kids to be associated with them." I mean, I have two
> teenagers. So, I used to think that way. I used to think, "Well, that kid's
> a troublemaker, gets into trouble. I don't want my kids near that kid,"
> because I judged that kid as just a bad kid - and the parents, too. They're
> all bad.
> 
> The other thing that I learned is it wasn't just the kids that went through
> the trauma. It's the parents, as well. It's the families. The families have
> gone through tremendous trauma. So - and often, you know, the kid gets
> punished for things, in some cases, that the parents are doing, as well. So,
> it's a combination of things. But I think all of the families that we
> followed in this film, even including the ones that didn't make it into the
> film, as we followed other stories, as well, will be certainly forever in my
> heart. I care about them all.
> AG: That was Robert May, the director and producer of the new documentary,
> "Kids for Cash," and Bob Schwartz, executive director of the Juvenile Law
> Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Judge Mark Ciavarella is currently
> serving a 28-year sentence, and President Judge Michael Conahan is serving
> 17 years, for taking $2.6 million from two private prisons. Ciavarella is
> serving his sentence in Illinois, Conahan in Florida. Both judges spoke to
> filmmaker Robert May before they went to jail. In October, the private
> juvenile detention companies at the heart of the kids-for-cash scandal in
> Pennsylvania settled a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million. The film, "Kids for
> Cash," is set to open in Philadelphia on Wednesday night at the Kimmel
> Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. It then opens in theaters
> nationwide. We'll post details on our website. You can also visit our
> website for our past coverage of the kids-for-cash scandal. That's
> democracynow.org.
> 
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