Kids for Cash: Two Judges, Thousands of Children, and a $2.6 Million Kickback Scheme

Kids for Cash: Two Judges, Thousands of Children, and a $2.6 Million Kickback Scheme

by William Ecenbarger

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Overview

When thirteen-year-old Matthew appeared in front of Judge Mark Ciavarella for throwing a piece of steak at his mother’s boyfriend, he was sentenced to seven weeks at PA Child Care, a private, for-profit juvenile detention center in northeastern Pennsylvania. Angelia was fourteen when she and a friend scrawled “Vote for Michael Jackson” on five stop signs. Charged with vandalism and defacing public property, Angelia was sent by Ciavarella to PA Child Care without her epilepsy medication and suffered a grand mal seizure her second night. Fifteen-year-old Charlie, arrested for unknowingly purchasing a stolen motorbike, was convicted of a felony and sent to PA Child Care for six weeks.

Matthew, Angelia, and Charlie are just three children among the thousands who appeared in Ciavarella’s courtroom between 2003 and 2008 and were sent away—often with no attorney present and after only cursory hearings—to a detention facility in which, it later came to light, Ciavarella had a personal financial stake. As Kids for Cash reveals, this miscarriage of justice underscores a multitude of problems with our juvenile justice system, which too often criminalizes standard adolescent behavior, treats adolescents more harshly than if they were adults, and denies them their most fundamental constitutional rights.

William Ecenbarger, a Pulitzer Prize and George Polk Award–winning investigative journalist who covered the case for the Philadelphia Inquirer, now gives us the first book-length account of this shocking story. In the tradition of true-crime legal thrillers from The Executioner’s Song to A Civil Action, Ecenbarger exposes a deeply corrupt and broken system that ruined the lives of many children and ultimately led to the judge’s conviction on charges of racketeering, fraud, tax violations, money laundering, extortion, and bribery. Fastidiously researched and utterly propulsive, Kids for Cash takes us deep inside a profoundly flawed legal system, revealing the twisted and haunting realities of America’s juvenile justice system.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781595586841
Publisher: New Press, The
Publication date: 10/23/2012
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

William Ecenbarger was part of a Philadelphia Inquirer reporting team that was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. Once an international correspondent for Reader’s Digest, he has been published in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian Magazine, Esquire, Audubon, and other leading newspapers and magazines. He is also the author of Walkin’ the Line, a travel-history narrative about the Mason-Dixon Line. He lives with his wife, a travel photographer, in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Author's Note xiii

1 Matthew, Angelia, Lisa, and Charlie 1

2 Barons and Godfathers 17

3 Scooch and the Boss 27

4 Minding Their Own Business 51

5 The Elephant in the Courtroom 87

6 The Cash Flows 105

7 Hillary and Jessica 133

8 Disgrace and Infamy 157

9 The Trial 183

10 The Hearings 231

11 Our Lock-'Em-Up Society 247

Index 263

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Kids for Cash: Two Judges, Thousands of Children, and a $2.6 Million Kickback Scheme 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looks good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Attorneys who defend people must read this book. Is shows what happens when lawyers fail to do there jobs. Lawyers mudt defend their clients, even from corrupt judges. Detailed interviews and great reporting show how unchecked power will corrupt. Even in a good system, bad people will take any chance for personal gain.