I’ve been really into conspiracy theories lately. I’ve been listening to conspiracy theory podcasts which led to a rabbit-hole of various reddits and subreddits. I also just read the book Libra by Don Delillo, a speculative fiction novel about Lee Harvey Oswald and the Kennedy Assassination. I have a conspiracy theory of my own and, while it isn’t Kennedy level, I think it’s interesting in its own right.
To those readers that are not from my area, let me give you a bit of backstory. In the late 2000s, a scandal that would be nationally known as Kids 4 Cash was uncovered. The scandal involved two judges, Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, arrested and later convicted of accepting kickbacks to send juveniles(thousands, reportedly) to private juvenile corrections facilities. The news lead to an FBI Probe tasked specifically to uncover corruption in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, in which numerous political figures of the area were charged with other white-collar crimes. The story was turned into a book and a documentary (which I believe is still on Netflix, Kids 4 Cash). Corruption in Luzerne County wasn’t a shock to anyone, especially a young doe-eyed Jan, but I don’t think many knew how deep the corruption went, and to say that the area isn’t corrupt anymore would just be naïve.
Let’s go back around 2004 or 2005. I was in middle school and we would have occasional assemblies that boiled down to “try not to commit crime, okay?” These assemblies were orchestrated by the higher ups in the school, and they were more of lectures than anything informative. Anyway, at the end of this one assembly, one of the higher ups (I am intentionally being vague because this is one theory based on one account that happened when I was twelve years old, and I don’t remember how libel works) said to the crowd “Don’t make me have to send you to Ciavarella. He’s a good friend of mine.”
My question and theory is, how deep did the scandal go? Were any principals and superintendents in on it? What better place to get a group of children under watch? A place where, if someone is beating you to death and you put an arm up to defend yourself, it is just as much your fault as it is your assailant’s. A place where accidentally leaving a butter knife in your backpack is considered bringing a weapon to school. As far as I know or read, no one besides the judges and businessmen who started the detention centers were convicted in the actual Kids for Cash scandal. Many others were caught in further probes but those were mostly involved in bribes or other laundering schemes. I think that, if you want to get children misbehaving, one of the best places you can start is a school.