Monday, July 11, 2011

3 months in juvie for a myspace joke?

Video - featuring Linda as a first-time offending 'prison virgin', thrown into a savage female prison

Alternet | Seventeen-year-old Hillary Transue did what lots of 17-year-olds do: Got into mischief. Hillary's mischief was composing a MySpace page poking fun at the assistant principal of the high school she attended in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Hillary was an honor student who'd never had any trouble with the law before. And her MySpace page stated clearly that the page was a joke. But despite all that, Hilary found herself charged with harassment. She stood before a judge and heard him sentence her to three months in a juvenile detention facility.

What she expected was perhaps a stern lecture. What she got was a perp walk - being led away in handcuffs as her stunned parents stood by helplessly. Hillary told The New York Times, "I felt like I had been thrown into some surreal sort of nightmare. All I wanted to know was how this could be fair and why the judge would do such a thing."

It wasn't until two years later that she found out why. In Scranton, Pennsylvania, two judges pleaded guilty to operating a kickback scheme involving juvenile offenders. The judges, Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan, took more than $2.6 million in kickbacks from a private prison company to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers. Since 2003, Ciaverella had sentenced an estimated 5,000 juveniles. Conahan was accused of setting up the contracts. Many of the youngsters shipped off to the detention centers were first-time offenders.

PA Child Care is a juvenile detention center in Pittston Township, Pennsylvania. It was opened in February 2003. It has a sister company, Western PA Child Care, in Butler County, Pennsylvania. Treatment at both facilities is provided by Mid Atlantic Youth Services. Gregory Zappala took sole ownership of the company when he purchased co-owner Robert Powell's share in June 2008.

In July 2009, Powell pled guilty to failing to report a felony and being an accessory to tax evasion conspiracy in connection with $770,000 in kickbacks he paid to Ciavarella and Conahan in exchange for facilitating the development of his facilities.

The childcare facilities have also been criticized for their costs, which ranged as high as $315 per child per day. Butler County paid Western PA Child Care about $800,000 in payments between 2005 and 2008. Butler County did not renew Western PA Child Care's contract after an extension of the contract ran out at the end of 2008.

The juvenile detention center Hillary was sent to was a private, for-profit facility run by one of the more than 50 companies operating in the five billion dollar private prison industry.

These companies have names you've probably never heard of - like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO.

Ironically, it's the federal and state criminal justice systems that produce the private prisons phenomenon and create the opportunity for private operators to capitalize. What they are capitalizing on is America's obsession with handing out long prison sentences out of all proportion to the crimes committed.

Today, the United States has locked up more prisoners than any other country in the world - 2.3 million-plus people locked up in state and federal prisons and county jails. This has predictably resulted in a shortage of publicly owned prison beds - a shortage increasingly being filled by companies that charge so many dollars for each convict sent their way.


Big Don said...

Here's a similar one where prosecutors may be over-reacting...

BD's kids wwere always lectured extensively on "avoiding even the appearance of guilt..."  That it was not sufficient to just keep one's own nose clean, but rather, it was essential to avoid even associating, and indeed immediately GTF away from anyone doing anything suspicious lest you get sucked into the consequences when that person gets busted...

Tom said...

"avoiding even the appearance of guilt..."
Might be good advice for your kids BD.  But how can the kid in your link possibly do that?

Big Don said...

Well, his "crime" (leaving doll in john) wasn't actually a crime.  But his actions which got him in trouble were suspicious (e.g. leaving a package in the school).

Gee Chee Vision said...

An 18 year old is suppose to read a "bomb" social commentary into a package? BD, a lot of our thinking is based on what or who we invest our beliefs in. Obviously an older paranoid white male who walks out his house and is disgusted by the sight of Somalis and any other Moozlum immigrants will immediately be on red alert at every turn. I mean in the 80s when the break dance craze hit the US it was a very alarming and radical threat to an older white generation. To the 12-18 or 19 year olds (white included), it was nothing more than "interpretive dance" (that actually did law enforcement a great service by reducing crime) before it was a threat to national security.

But an 18 yr old kid does not share the same hang-ups that you may use to interpret the world around you. They aren't thinking about undertones, duality in meaning, social commentary and the likes. There is a reason why Michael Bay's movies are  successful; why Lady Gaga has has almost 400 million youtube hits; why today's libraries is a tweeter page. And there is a reason why this age group can be convinced that going into the military, to fight for resources that everyone gets a cut of but yourself, is more rational than using your youth to strategically build a future your one's self.

If an 18 yr old has acquired a sex doll package, the underlining theme going through his head is doggy style and getting blown, not bomb squad dogs and getting blown-up.

CNu said...

Damn near put your finger on the root cause of the stagnation if not the outright demise of the American wing of  western civilization!

GCV is truth, accept no substitutes...,

Tom said...

Not the kids' fault though.  Parents are preoccupied, either literally overwhelmed or just blanked out, have other priorities.  People I know, the kids have new trucks but virtually no 'parenting'.  Anybody see The Ice Storm?  

This What You Want To Do?!?!?!?! - Reap The Whirlwind....,