Dette er et af de mest absurde eksempler på konsekvenserne af den omsiggribende fængselskultur i uSA, det land i verden, som indespærrer den største procentdel af sin befolkning:
Ejeren af et ungdomsfængsel i Pennsylvania har i årevis bestukket dommere til at idømme flere og længere fængselsstraffe i sager mod børn og unge, end de ellers ville have gjort – den ene af dommerne har nu tilstået at have modtaget 2,6 millioner dollars over de sidste mange år.
The Guardian skriver:
Hillary Transue was 14 when she carried out her prank. She built a hoax MySpace page in which she posed as the vice-principal of her school, poking fun at her strictness. At the bottom of the page she added a disclaimer just to make sure everyone knew it was a joke. “When you find this I hope you have a sense of humour,” she wrote.
Humour is not in abundance, it seems, in Luzerne County, northern Pennsylvania. In January 2007 Transue was charged with harassment. She was called before the juvenile court in Wilkes-Barre, an old coal town about 20 miles from her home.
Less than a minute into the hearing the gavel came down. “Adjudicated delinquent!” the judge proclaimed, and sentenced her to three months in a juvenile detention centre. Hillary, who hadn’t even presented her side of the story, was handcuffed and led away. But her mother, Laurene, protested to the local law centre, setting in train a process that would uncover one of the most egregious violations of children’s rights in US legal history.
Last month the judge involved, Mark Ciavarella, and the presiding judge of the juvenile court, Michael Conahan, pleaded guilty to having accepted $2.6m (£1.8m) from the co-owner and builder of a private detention centre where children aged from 10 to 17 were locked up.
Skandalen kaldes “kids for cash” og har betydet, at man nu genoptager sagerne mod mere end 2000 børn og unge, som Ciavarella har sendt i fængsel.
Et usædvanligt giftigt eksempel på, hvad der sker, når man blander private økonomiske interesser ind i retshåndhævelsen – og på, hvad der sker, når man insisterer på, at “stramninger” og indespærring er løsningen på alle vore kriminalitetsproblemer.