Kuwait has a form of slavery, but then so does the US. A 2013 New York Times book review gives details:
In “Kids for Cash,” the investigative reporter William Ecenbarger tells the story behind a corruption scandal so brazen and cruel it defies imagination. Between 2003 and 2008, two Pennsylvania judges accepted millions of dollars in kickbacks from a private juvenile detention facility in exchange for sending children — girls and boys, some as young as 11 — to jail.
It is a harrowing tale, lucidly told by a journalist with a good eye for detail. The children’s stories continue to unsettle long after the book ends: the 13-year-old incarcerated forthrowing a piece of steak at his mother’s boyfriend; the 15-year-old for throwing a sandal at her mother; the 11-year-old for calling the police after his mother locked him out of the house; the 14-year-old for writing a satirical Myspace profile. Another 14-year-old, an A student, was sentenced for writing “Vote for Michael Jackson” on a few stop signs; she had a seizure while in detention, banging her head so hard she cracked her dental braces.
Mark Ciavarella is the judge who sent away all those children — and several thousand others — in cahoots with Judge Michael Conahan.
Two judges took money to trash the lives of children. Two judges made themselves rich by taking bribes to send children to prison for minor misbeahvior, or nothing at all.
After the briefest of hearings — the average length was four minutes — kids were dispatched to detention centers in which the judges had a financial interest. If parents were unable to pay the costs of detention, their children were sometimes held longer. One teenager’s Social Security survivor’s check, from his father’s death, was garnished to pay the costs.
What happened in Luzerne County, formerly known for coal and now for organized crime and public corruption (in certain districts, teachers have to pay for teaching jobs), was not a case of rogue judges acting alone. In a “festival of injustice,” prosecutors, public defenders, teachers and court employees saw it all and did nothing. At Ciavarella’s direction, juvenile probation officers talked kids out of exercising their right to counsel.
The judges stink, but so does the “criminal justice system” that makes such abuse available.
There is some vindication: Ciavarella and Conahan are serving lengthy prison terms, and the children’s records have been expunged. But there is no happy ending. Many children were traumatized by being shackled and summarily shipped off to jail only to be shunned by friends when they were released. Seven years after his incarceration, the young man accused of steak-throwing (he denied the charge) still has “a lost look about him,” Ecenbarger writes, “as though he has been permanently startled.”
Kuwait, the US – there’s not all that much to choose between us.