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Frank Smith, Private Corrections Institute

    Frank Smith

    Frank Smith, founder of the Private Corrections Institute

    Cañon City (Colorado) - The old man pulled up at the Riviera Motel from Kansas after 500 miles on the highway. On the phone he told us not to worry about him. He'd drive through the night, he'd be on time and it wouldn't take long. I'll only stop to fill up with gas and to piss, he'd said. That's Frank Smith, an age-old activist against private prisons. Mike Snobrich was right to insist we meet him. We sat down at the Riviera's waxed tablecloth, the one you see right at the start of the film, and Smith laid out his arguments. Private prisons are an extension of the capitalist dream, just like the war machine. Since 1996, every time a private prison moves in somewhere, Frank heads over there. His tally: 31 private prisons have never been built. His car - an old Contour Sport with 174,536 miles on the clock - is sporty only in name. When he drew up on the parking lot, he immediately got out a screwdriver. His front left window was bust again.


    Today I was asked on this site about the Pennsylvania judges who were taking bribes in exchange for sending harmless kids to juvenile for-profit prisons for long terms.

    This is a story that began years ago when a Philadelphia citizen watchdog agency tried to call attention to a situation where masses of children who probably should have had any more serious consequences than to staff after school and clean blackboard and erasers were being given long terms.

    There was a story about it in the paper just yesterday. A federal judge had rejected a plea bargain in the cases of the two corrupt judges. It involved them spending years in prison themselves, but he felt the arrangement was not harsh enough. One judge must have renegotiated his plea, the other is waiting trial. I expect he might get life in prison in the likely event he loses, but his horror, shame and fear will not match that of 1% of the children he wrongfully sentenced. He was also involved in steering a case to himself in the case of a newspaper which simply told the truth, and against which he levied a judgment for over a million dollars.


    Pa. 'kids for cash' panel calls for more oversight

    StoryBy MICHAEL RUBINKAM | Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2010 9:45 am | No Comments Posted

    A state panel investigating the "kids for cash" scandal in northeastern Pennsylvania called Thursday for improved oversight of judges among dozens of other recommendations meant to strengthen the state's juvenile justice system.

    The Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice was created last August by the Legislature and Gov. Ed Rendell to look into the causes of the judicial scandal at the Luzerne County Courthouse and to suggest ways to prevent a recurrence there or elsewhere.

    Former judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella are charged in federal court with racketeering for allegedly taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to place youth offenders in for-profit detention centers. Conahan has agreed to plead guilty for his role in the $2.8 million scheme. Ciavarella awaits trial.

    The state Supreme Court tossed thousands of juvenile convictions after federal prosecutors charged the judges last year.

    In its report, the interbranch commission said that corruption in the Luzerne County courthouse "has been deeply ingrained for many years" and that "many individuals may be seen to have shared the responsibility" for failures in the juvenile justice system there, including prosecutors, public defenders and probation officials.

    The commission's work also revealed failures in state oversight of the court system.

    Its recommendations cover a range of issues, from improving the state Judicial Conduct Board _ the agency that investigates and prosecutes misconduct by Pennsylvania judges _ to ensuring that juveniles have access to legal representation, to reducing or eliminating the use of shackling in juvenile courtrooms.

    The commission voted Thursday to approve the report and recommendations and send them to Rendell, Chief Justice Ronald Castille and legislative leaders.

    Online: http://tinyurl.com/2bnusxa
    Dear Frank. Nice to "see" you around. Thank you very very much for your post. See you soon...
    Incredible. How does one rise through the judicial system in this country with that amount of lack of character. I feel for those kids. It's a good thing the judges got caught, but it also makes me wonder what else i out there, and it's certainly more than a "signal" that privatised prisons are a really bad idea.

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