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

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Mon Feb 10 11:22:46 UTC 2014


Not this particular notice Chris, but Rather the notice on the Anderson 
Building.

As I explained in another post I pasted the wrong articcle in the message 
body.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Christine Boone" <christineboone2 at gmail.com>
To: "NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Sunday, February 09, 2014 9:38 PM
Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] oh they put this on the web site after 
hoursyesterday


> 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.
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Blind-Democracy mailing list
>> Blind-Democracy at octothorp.org
>> http://www.octothorp.org/mailman/listinfo/blind-democracy
>> _______________________________________________
>> nfbmi-talk mailing list
>> nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org
>> http://nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nfbmi-talk_nfbnet.org
>> To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for 
>> nfbmi-talk:
>> http://nfbnet.org/mailman/options/nfbmi-talk_nfbnet.org/christineboone2%40gmail.com
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> nfbmi-talk mailing list
> nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org
> http://nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nfbmi-talk_nfbnet.org
> To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for 
> nfbmi-talk:
> http://nfbnet.org/mailman/options/nfbmi-talk_nfbnet.org/joeharcz%40comcast.net 




More information about the nfbmi-talk mailing list