Judges Getting Paid by Private Prison Owners to Send Convicts Their Way

by Ayvaunn Penn, Your Black World

Apparently, some judges are paid to send people to the slammer even when they do not deserve it.  Given that judges are supposed to uphold the JUSTICE system, getting paid by private jail owners for helping them fill their cells is unacceptable. TruthOut.org reports that “in Scranton, Pennsylvania, two judges pleaded guilty to operating a kickback scheme involving juvenile offenders.” TruthOut.org further explains:

“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.”

The latter incident involved private prison co-owners by the name of Gregory Zappala and Robert Powell. The type of prisons these two ran were  juvenile detention centers: PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care located in Pittston Township and Butler County of Pennsylvania. Whereas these two cons bribing judges in order to help them build up business in their private prisons was terrible, they simply bring light to a larger problem — a lack of public prisons. As described by TruthOut.org, the problem is 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.”

These two prison businessmen were simply capitalizing on the fact that there is a lack public prisons to house criminals. As a result, the justice system has to send convicts somewhere, so they end up sending them to private owned prisons. Since the justice system has nowhere else to turn unless the government starts building more public prisons, owners of private prisons can charge outrageous prices for every new inmate they house — a very profitable venture. Zappala and Powell wanted to ensure that their jail-bird business would make big money, so they promised Ciavarell and Conahan a portion of the profits if they sent convicts to their prisons. Hopefully nothing like this ever happens again. However, until more public prisons are built to deter such corrupt activity, we cannot be sure.

Ayvaunn Penn is a spoken word artist and an award winning writer completing her degree in English and philosophy. For more of her witty-word works click here. To have your original poetry featured by Ms. Penn on Your Black Poets, click here.



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