Kids for Cash

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Kids for Cash

FIRST SECTION

Overview of the contents of the work

“Kids for Cash” is a book written on a true shocking story that was covered on many several TV stations such as CBS News, CNN, ABC’s 20/20 in which were two judges were found guilty and convicted of accepting bribes amounting to millions of dollars from the juvenile detention owners that was privatised in exchange to for convicting and sentencing thousands of children to jail.

The books offer an incisive insidious look of the country’s legal system that is locked out of the scrutiny of the public, and which offers no oversight or little oversight of the judges, and which allowed sentencing of the children without any legal counsel. This opens the eyes of the public on the haunting and the twisted realities of the current American children when they are at school. For the cases in the juvenile justice.

Mark Ciavarella, a former judge of a juvenile court in Luzern County, Pennsylvania, between the year 2002 and 2008, sentenced hundreds of children to jail in exchange for kickback amounting to millions of dollars. Ecenbarger, the author, explored the scandal in an accessible and compelling narrative that weaved together the scandals detail with the Luzern country’s historical context, the profiles of the people involved and also with the disturbing experiences of the youths detained, and the arguments with research of the juvenile justice for reform.

The emerging themes

1. Corruption and greed

Based on his work that was richly researched on the political and historical northeastern Pennsylvanian context, the book explored the corruption history reaching as far back as 19th century, from the school boards to the mining industry. With the legislators and judges befriending the mobsters and the requirement for the teachers to pay as much as $5000 to get employed, under the reign of Ciavarella, corruption was not a new occurrence, but business as usual. The author profiled the former judge, his desire to maintain power and status in the community, his financial woes and the history of his family. Ecenbarger exploration of the past of Ciavarella was fascinating, with his greed nearing on sociopathic, even in the northeastern Pennsylvanian context.

The element of corruption in the book is also seen from the exposed juvenile justice disgrace in Pennsylvania where thousands of kids were sentenced illegally to a private detention facility after the presiding judges received kickbacks. The author’s articulate and heartfelt outrage raise the critical and the disturbing questions about the destructive power of corruption and greed in America’s criminal justice system, and the social and legal systems supporting it through their silent acquiescence. Through corruption and greed, the judges traded the people who have been slaves all their lives will eventually have their freedom. The theme song words describe a following, a movement towards the acquisition of freedom of the youth for their personal profits. From the scandal of kids for cash, Ecenbarger (2012) illustrated vividly that the judges in sentencing the kids to the juvenile jail had a financial interest. So they sent them to jails not necessarily because rehabilitation or justice demanded, but in line with their pockets.

2. Devastating act of incarcerating the youth

During the trial of Ciarvella, Ecenbarger (2012) pointed out that mothers of the children who were victims ganged against the prosecutor who was mainly focusing on the monetary crimes of money laundering and extortion, failing to mention the traumatized children by the former judge’s crimes. There was no child-victim who testified and at the end of the case, Ecenbarger (2012) observed that two jurors were still not aware of the element of “kids for cash” in the scandal until they saw the coverage of the post-trial news. As described by one mother about the trial, “this is not only kids for cash scandal but also kids forgotten” (Ecenbarger, 2012, p. 217).

The “Kids for Cash” book by Ecenbarger (2012) did what the prosecutor failed in doing that is telling the stories of the children. The book is laced with vignettes that are compelling emotionally that profiles the circumstances of the arrest of the children, their stigmatization and traumatic ordeals when they were incarcerated, and their experiences during their trial in the courtrooms. At times dramatic and painful, the vignettes create an emotional connection that is compelling between the reader of the book and the victims as they narrate the paralyzing and persistent trauma the scandal had on their families and the youths involved.

3. Juvenile injustice

In Ciavarella’s courtroom, the due process was a façade. The kids and their families were lured to waive the rights of the kids to counsel. The statistics indicate that in Luzerne, 54.8% of the kids’ waived counsel compared to the rest of Pennsylvanian statistics of 7.4%. Moreover, Ecenbarger (2012) indicated that Luzerne children were also two and a half times more likely to be placed on out of home compared to other states parts

Ecenbarger (2012) also pointed out that the former judge Ciavarella was verbally abusive and inconsiderate to the parents and the youths who appeared before him in his court hears that took less than five minutes routinely. Although there were dozens of witnesses to his courtroom practices, including defense attorneys, prosecutors, law clerks a.............


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