But it did turn out that the tough sentences had nothing to do with a wish to fight crime. It was all done for greed. The owners of boot camps, wilderness programs and other residential options had paid the judges to impose tougher sentences.
Children charged with only minor crimes were put in prison taken out of courts in handcuffs and shackles as they had murdered several persons. It is needless to say how what was supposed to be a lecture in right and wrong instead turned out to be a life-changing turning point in the lives of every of the children who were put through this experience.
Many suffered for years feeling being permanent branded as criminals and some did later take their own lives.
The Pennsylvania Kids-for-Cash scandal is now well-known in our culture. An episode of Law- and Order was broadcasted world over letting everyone know how dangerous a system where minors are placed in various residential options without proper political supervision can be. Still in many countries audit of systems where case workers and judges have sole control with the faith of children and especially who they will grant the care of a specific child is basically missing.
The people we citizens vote into office must see to that they supervise the structure. They need to watch how money exchange hands very carefully. They must demand results and move out of their chair and visit children placed outside their home.
The hidden money transactions are not only a problem for Pennsylvania. As far away as Denmark and Sweden you can see stories in the media about children placed in public care which are abused and mistreated in group homes and in the foster care system - Cases where reports of alleged abuse have entered the system for over 20 years only to disappear.
The politicians should have asked to obvious question: Who caused these report to disappear? Who forgets to report when two minors at a group home have sexual encounters? In a country like Denmark it is reported that such encounters take place twice at month. Children aged down to 7 are abused by older children and the employees of the group homes are not educated to treat the victims who in extreme cases can cause them to grow up and become abusers themselves.
But the politicians have failed their jobs. They have not asked to have put every single contract between their administration and group homes and foster families on the table so they can discover suspicious patterns. We are talking huge amounts which are changing hands.
It is time for the citizens to step up and write the persons they have elected for office to ask them to dig into this area not leaving it up to a closed circuit of deals made in the dark.
Today it is judgment day in the Pennsylvania Kids-for-Cash scandal, but tomorrow it should be judgment day for all sick systems with the potential of corruption and possible damage of children’s lives.
Parents: Give him the max (The Times Leader, August 11, 2011)