Kids For Cash: Inside One of the Nation’s Most Shocking Juvenile Justice Scandals | Democracy Now!
Please be disturbed by this. Today a special on "kids for cash," the shocking story of how thousands
of children in Pennsylvania were jailed by two corrupt judges who
received $2.6 million in kickbacks from the builders and owners of
private prison facilities. We hear from two of the youth: Charlie
Balasavage was sent to juvenile detention after his parents unknowingly
bought him a stolen scooter; Hillary Transue was detained for creating a
MySpace page mocking her assistant high school principal. They were
both 14 years old and were sentenced by the same judge, Judge Mark
Ciavarella, who is now in jail himself — serving a 28-year sentence.
Balasavage and Transue are featured in the new documentary, "Kids for
Cash," by filmmaker Robert May, who also joins us. In addition, we speak
to two mothers: Sandy Fonzo, whose son Ed Kenzakoski committed suicide
after being imprisoned for years by Judge Ciavarella, and Hillary’s
mother, Laurene Transue. Putting their stories into context of the
larger scandal is attorney Robert Schwartz, executive director of the
Juvenile Law Center. The story is still developing: In October, the
private juvenile-detention companies in the scandal settled a civil
lawsuit for $2.5 million.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Kids For Cash: Inside One of the Nation’s Most Shocking Juvenile Justice Scandals | Democracy Now!
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
After the Murder of Tom Clements, Can Colorado's Prison System Rehabilitate Itself? by Alan Prendergast
One had to do with the excessive use of solitary confinement in order to isolate and punish the state's most troublesome prisoners. The other was the staggeringly high failure rate of parole.
Clements was a numbers guy. A native of the Show Me State, he valued empirical data more than gut instincts or sacred cows. A former parole officer who'd worked his way up to the top ranks of the Missouri state prison system, he was part of a growing reform movement in corrections: the promulgation of "evidence-based practices" by administrators whose idea of managing offenders is turning them into productive citizens again rather than simply moving them around. What mattered were hard numbers and programs with a track record of successful outcomes, and the data on the Colorado DOC wasn't good.
Forty-seven percent. As Clements saw it, that figure had a lot to do with some other dismal figures: the state's stubbornly high recidivism rate, hovering around 50 percent, and the steady return of thousands of parole violators to prison within months of their release.
The subject of Colorado's ad-seg problem figured prominently in the discussions of the executive-director job that Clements had with Governor John Hickenlooper. Without mentioning any names, Hickenlooper made passing reference to one prisoner, the son of a friend, who'd spent the bulk of his sentence in lockdown because of disciplinary problems. Clements took the position that the routine release of damaged, violent felons directly from isolation wasn't simply a parole problem, but a threat to public safety.
Reducing the use of solitary confinement became one of the new chief's top priorities. He pushed for more frequent and thorough reviews of who was in ad-seg and why, as well as initiatives to get prisoners out of isolation and into classes, drug treatment and mental-health programs before release. During his first two years on the job, the state's ad-seg population dropped by nearly 50 percent. Clements was encouraged by the progress, but hardly satisfied.
"It's only a matter of time," he told one top deputy, "until something goes bad."
His prediction proved to be all too accurate. But not even the new chief expected it to go quite as bad as it did, literally on his own doorstep. On the evening of March 19, 2013, Clements answered the doorbell at his Monument home and was confronted by a parole absconder named Evan Ebel — the same "son of a friend" Hickenlooper had mentioned during Clements's 2011 job interview. Released from ad-seg just seven weeks earlier, Ebel had already killed Nathan Leon, a pizza delivery driver, just to get his uniform. Ebel fatally shot Clements with a nine-millimeter handgun and fled, only to be killed himself two days later in a shootout with Texas authorities.
Almost eighteen months later, many questions about the death of Tom Clements remain unanswered. Authorities have described it as a gang-ordered assassination. Citing unnamed sources, the Denver Post has even suggested that it was a murder for hire, commissioned by a Saudi national who'd been denied a transfer out of a Colorado prison just days earlier. But aside from Stevie Vigil, the young woman who supplied Ebel with his gun, no charges have been filed against anyone in the case — and longtime friends of Ebel, citing letters and a recorded message he left behind, have insisted that the murder was an act of personal vengeance against a system that he despised.
Trying to make sense of a senseless killing has put considerable strain not only on investigators, but on DOC officials, as well, who have struggled to define what sort of "lesson," if any, can be gleaned from the tragedy. On one hand, Rick Raemisch, the current director, has expressed his determination to honor Clements's legacy, leading to a dramatic reduction in the number of mentally ill prisoners in ad-seg. But the shock and outrage of the slaying has also led to a major shakeup in the department's leadership team and retrenchment in many critical areas, including parole. Clements had set out to change not only the direction of DOC policy, but also the agency's internal culture, and many of his initiatives are now on hold or have been quietly scrapped. While the system failures exposed by Ebel's rampage have generated a flurry of new legislation and heightened security measures, some observers wonder if Clements's death has also jeopardized reforms that he regarded as long overdue.
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Sunday, August 17, 2014
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Tuesday, August 05, 2014
Hi there!!! CCJRC was awarded a grant to attend and participate in a class for Digital Storytelling for Nonprofits. We created a movie and now we are in the running for a fabulous prize…These are digital stories that nonprofit organizations created as part of their participation in Open Media Foundation's Digital Storytelling for Nonprofits class.
Winning videos will be announced on Friday August 8th at 7pm, during the live show 'SparqU Presents: The Perfect Pitch for Nonprofits'". If you have already voted for this, thank you!!
Can you go to the link below and vote for “Floorboards” ? Floorboards was written about the story of a son’s experience of his mother’s incarceration and their eventual reunion. This is a preview of the live performance that you will be able to see at the CCJRC "Voices for Justice" 6th Annual Fundraiser
Thank you so much!!! (After you get to the Open Media website you have to click on the red stars under the title until they turn yellow and the vote count actually changes).
Don't forget to get your tickets to the
CCJRC’s 2014 6th Annual Fundraiser
VOICES FOR JUSTICE
Thursday, September 18, 2014
5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m
COCKTAILS AND CUISINE
BOXES AND BASKETS SILENT AUCTION
MILE HIGH STATION
2027 West Lower Colfax
CATERED BY FOOTERS
Early bird tickets: $85
PLEASE JOIN US FOR ANOTHER WONDERFUL EVENING!
This year, we are honoring Claire Levy for her invaluable contribution to criminal justice reform. As House Representative, she carried a significant number of bills vital to reducing recidivism, implementing smarter sentencing and drug policy, expanding funding for treatment, increasing alternatives to incarceration, and providing resources to people with criminal convictions. Her work on the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) was exemplary as is her current work as Executive Director of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.
CCJRC has been successfully advocating for sensible criminal justice reform in Colorado for more than a decade. We were founded in 1999 when Senator Dorothy Rupert, in alliance with Representative Penfield Tate, introduced legislation calling for a three-year halt on prison expansion and the creation of a task force on sentencing reform. Today, CCJRC includes more than 100 community organizations and faith communities and nearly 6,500 individual members statewide. We have worked diligently over the years to develop criminal justice policies and grassroots campaigns that effectively promote public safety and rehabilitation while reducing the prison population.
The Rupert Tate Game Changer Award honors its two co-founders and their prescience in challenging the criminal justice status quo in Colorado. It is a great honor to extend this award to
Second Chance CenterBill Vandenberg
$750 - Advocate Sponsors
$500 – Freedom Fighter Sponsors
$250 – Justice SponsorsElizabeth Anderman Tony and Leigh Bubb
T. Marshal Seufert Brian Connors Councilman Albus Brooks Endpoint Direct
Advocates for Change St. Francis Center Longmont Community Justice Partnership
Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition Colorado Behavioral Health Council
Voices for Justice Sponsor - $10,000
Game Changer Sponsor - $5,000
Supporting Sponsor - $2,500
Contributing Sponsor $1,000
Advocate Sponsor - $750
Freedom Fighter Sponsor - $500
Rupert-Tate Sponsor - $375
Justice Sponsor - $250
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Friday, July 18, 2014
he U.S. Sentencing Commission voted Friday to slash sentences for 46,000 inmates serving time for drug offenses, the latest move in a concerted effort by state and federal officials to ease decades-old policies that have clogged jails and prisons.
If the move is not blocked by Congress, more than two-thirds of federal prisoners incarcerated for drug crimes will be eligible for sentence reductions averaging more than two years.
Atty. Gen Eric H. Holder Jr. originally asked the commission, a group of judges and other lawyers who establish sentencing policies, to take a much narrower approach that would affect just 20,000 inmates.
But Holder said Friday he supports the new policy. “This is a milestone in the effort to make more efficient use of our law enforcement resources and to ease the burden on our overcrowded prison system, ” he said in a statement.
Judge Patti B. Saris, chair of the commission, said, “This amendment received unanimous support from commissioners because it is a measured approach. It reduces prison costs and populations, and responds to statutory and guidelines changes since the drug guidelines were initially developed, while safeguarding public safety.”
No prisoner would be released until a judge reviews their case to determine whether a reduced sentence poses a risk to public safety.
The House and Senate would have to vote by Nov. 1 to block the plan. But there has been bipartisan support in both houses for a broad change in prison policies.
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Thursday, July 10, 2014
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