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tv   Democracy Now  WHUT  October 23, 2013 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT

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civilians. escalating violence in iraq has killed more than 520 people this month and more than 5200 since january. in australia, thousands of people have been ordered to leave their homes outside sydney admits the areas worst bushfires in decades. more than 200 homes have been destroyed in new south wales since last week and today's conditions are expected to reach their worst to date. speaking to cnn this week, the un's top climate official said he ways causing bushfires are linked to global warming. metrologicalrld organization is not think directory to this fire and climate change yet, but what is absolutely clear is the science is telling us there are increasing he waves in asia, europe, and australia that these will continue, they will continue in intensity and frequency. >> and response, australia's do prime minister, tony abbott,
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dismissed the comment saying -- mexico says it has won a pledge from president obama to investigate the nsa's apparent spying on its government. leaks from edward snowden reported by der spiegel suggest the nsa hacked the e-mail account of then-president felipe calderón in 2010 and of current mexican president enrique peña nieto before he was elected. on tuesday, mexican secretary of foreign affairs said obama has promised an investigation and has assured enrique peña nieto he didn't authorize the spine. the white house has acknowledged two key components of the new health care insurance exchanges will take longer to repair than previously disclosed. on tuesday, senior officials said the administration is not sure when low-income americans will be able to enroll in medicaid online. the white house also
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acknowledged that online enrollment for spanish speakers is still an active. amidst growing criticism of glitches in the help exchange rollout, the white house said tuesday it would bring in a former acting director of the office of management and budget to oversee the process. appeals court has ruled the government must obtain award based on probable cause in order to track vehicles with gps. it is the first time in appeals court has weighed in on the issue since the supreme court ruled that police monitoring through attaching a gps to a suspect's vehicle arcs a constitutionally protected search. in a statement, the aclu said the decision -- a new survey of executive pay shows that for the first time ever, the nation's 10 highest eight ceo's earned over $100
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million each last year. the highest-paid was based -- facebook's mark zuckerberg. is warninganel regulators and agricultural producers have failed to slow the use of antibiotics in livestock. a landmark study in 2008 called on producers to stop adding antibiotics to livestock feed in order to boost animal growth. but a 14 member panel convened by the johns hopkins center for a livable future says "appalling lack of progress" has been made in the five year since that report. scientists have warned the allowance of antibiotics in animals is up weakening their effectiveness in humans. an estimated 80% of antibiotics used in the u.s. are consumed by farm animals. an arab-american community activist has been arrested in chicago on charges of immigration fraud. rasmieh odeh is accused of concealing her detention in an
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israeli prison 40 years ago on bombing charges. she works as an associate director of the arab american action network, a chicago area group that works on behalf of new immigrants and campaigns against antiaircraft -- anti- aired discrimination. in a statement, the activist group committee to stop fbi repression said her rest appears to be linked to the case of 23 antiwar activists subpoenaed by the fbi in 2010. a crowd of several hundred people rallied in maryville, missouri tuesday in support of teenage rape victim daisy coleman. she says she was given alcohol and raped during a gathering of high school athletes last year while another team filmed the incident on his phone. despite reported evidence and interviews of supporting the case, prosecutors dropped charges against daisies accused rapist, matthew barnett. a new prosecutor was appointed to review the case on monday following a public outcry. on tuesday, coleman supporters held daisies as they gather near
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the town square. the hacker group anonymous helped organize the rally after initially calling attention to coleman's case. in ohio, a man who challenged the state and on gay marriage while dealing with a life- threatening illness has died. john arthur, who had lou gehrig's disease, and his husband tied the knot in maryland clear this year in order to ensure they were legally wed before the end of arthur's life. a federal judge leader ruled arthur's death certificate must his has been as the surviving spouse, ensuring they can be area next to each other on arthur's family plot. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. president obama is scheduled to meet with his pakistani counterpart later today amidst
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rising tension around the restaurant strikes in pakistan. the meeting between obama and pakistani prime minister nawaz sharif comes as amnesty international has released a major new report on how u.s. drone strikes kill civilians in pakistan am aware it says some drone killings may amount to war crimes. the group reviewed 45 drone strikes that occurred in north waziristan since january 20 12. it found at least 19 civilians were killed in just two of those strikes, despite claims by the obama administration it is accurately targeting militants. report, human rights watch criticized u.s. john strikes in yemen that killed civilians. on tuesday, white house spokesperson jay carney defended the legality of the u.s. drone program. >> to the extent these reports claim u.s. has acted contrary to international law, we would strongly disagree. the administration has repeatedly emphasized the extraordinary care we take to
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make sure counterterrorism actions are in accordance with all laws. >> on the eve of his president with -- meet with president obama, prime minister sharif said the drone strikes violate international law and pakistan's territorial integrity. >> in the matter of the drone strikes, which have deeply disturbed and agitated our people, in my first statement to the parliament i had reiterated our strong commitment to ensuring in and to the drone attacks. more recently our political parties in the national conference had declared the use of drones is not only the continued violation of our territorial integrity, but also detrimental to our resolve and efforts at laminating terrorism from our country. [indiscernible] i would stress the need for an end to drone attacks. >> that was prime minister nawaz
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sharif speaking in washington. while he is criticized drone strikes, the former president admitted earlier this year his government secretly signed off on u.s. drone strikes. in its report, amnesty documented the case of his 68- year-old grandmother, mamana bibi, who is killed in a strike that appeared to be aimed directly at her. she was picking okra while surrounded by her grandchildren when she was blasted to pieces. her son and granddaughter described the attack. >> the children were also with her. she was hit in the first attack in her body parts were lying scattered. a sound and then there was an explosion. we were scared and i ran home. it was dark in front of our house. they brought me to the dr. in the village who gave me first aid. i was not scared before, but now when the drone is flying, i'm scared of it. >> a clip from amnesty international's report on drone strikes in pakistan.
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to find out more we go to washington, d.c. to talk with mustafa qadri, the author of the amnesty international report, "will i be next? u.s. drone strikes in pakistan." he is pakistan researcher at amnesty international. welcome to democracy now! you talk about these drone strikes in pakistan as possible war crimes, that the u.s. is engaged in them. lay out your case. entiree not saying the program constitutes war crimes. what we're saying is particularly rescuer attacks may constitute war crimes. we are talking, for example, some laborers in a very impoverished village your the afghanistan border that targeted . those who come to rescue or look for survivors are themselves targeted. in great detail i witnesses, victims who survived, tell us about the terror and panic as drones hovered overhead. there are other cases in the report where we talk about people being targeted coming to
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rescue people also killed. those cases a constitute war crimes. that is a very big claim. with the secrecy surrounding the program, the remoteness of this area, we can only get the truth once the u.s. comes clean and explains what are the justifications for these killings. i should be clear, we are not just talking about these cases of war crimes, but as you mentioned before, mamana bibi, a grandmother, killed in front of her grandchildren. the u.s. has to explain these killings. we think they are also unlawful. how do they explain making u.s. safer by killing these innocent people? >> can you explain more about what happened to this grandmother? >> basically, it is in the middle of the afternoon on a clear day in the sky, about 2:45. she is in the family field in north waziristan, a village or one of the main cities. she is picking okra. the next day, the holiest day in
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the year for muslims, her kids are doing their work in the field as well. they noticed drones overhead. they were sort of used to that because drones are ubiquitous in the skies over there. literally, quite suddenly, she is attacked. targeted to be deliberately. we can tell, obviously, without more information. andssile hits her directly she dies instantly. some of her kids are injured in the initial strike from shrapnel . their house is damaged from the reverberation of the strike. as some of them ventured to see what has happened to the grandmother, a few minutes later another strike happens about nine feet away from where the grandmother is killed. that injures more of her grandchildren. after that, there is incredible panic as we saw in the video clip. up until today, the family -- even up to today, the family has not received acknowledgment she
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was killed by a drone. we researched this case thoroughly. we even analyzed missile fragments from experts who said it appears to be a hellfire missile. you can see in the report we really have a very simple question to the u.s., how do you justify killing her grandmother? how does that make anyone safer? you talka qadri, could about what people in waziristan told you? the report suggest people shared equal fear of the taliban and of the u.s.? >> this is an important point to make. we're not saying drones should stop. we're not saying drones as a weapon or unlawful. what we're saying is the program the u.s. has -- the u.s. has not provided satisfactory legal basis. we're also saying people living there face threats from the telegram, al qaeda, the pakistani military often threatens and intimates people.
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people there are living a harrowing life. it is very underdeveloped. education is low. women's rights -- women have a very difficult environment to live. girls education is very low. the drones are adding insult to the already many injuries that people face living there. what we're saying is this has to be a key part of that step toward bringing law and order and protecting the rights of people living there. >> in the case of mamana bibi, the grandmother, they may not have the u.s. acknowledged to the family, but what about amnesty international when you gathered all of this evidence? >> that is a good point. the only kind of acknowledgment we received was a letter from the cia saying to speak to the white house and look at the
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policy guidelines released en president obama made his speech in may this year but counterterrorism and the drone policy. in short, we have not received any information really from the u.s. authorities about this case. >> i want to play another clip from the end of -- amnesty report. this man describes july 6, 2012 in a village in north waziristan went 18 male laborers, including at least one boy, were killed in a series of drone strikes. his identity has been concealed for his safety. would it not hurt you if they kill your brother for no reason? the drone struck in our area. killed.hem were when the villagers arrived to rescue them, missiles were fired again. they were also killed. what else could it have been? some of the corpses have been
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badly burned and were beyond recognition. we could only identify them because we knew who had come there to work and we knew their names. and the names of their tribes. they were laborers extracting chrome and in mountains. >> that was another clip from the amnesty report. could you talk about the significance of the so-called double strikes or second strikes? >> so there is a very significant legal justification for this clip it on the human side we're talking about targeting people who have come to assist victims of the strike. no matter who those people might be, the human instinct to try to -- everyone has that. it is universal. the idea those coming to assist injured people, it is quite shocking. we documented cases where militants have been killed. libyocument a case where al- was killed.
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in that episode, rescuers, people but nothing, as far as we can tell, to do with al qaeda or the taliban were the very least did not pose an imminent threat to the u.s. or its allies, were killed in a rescue attack. when you look at people living there that are already facing so many threats, curfew, living a very difficult life, the idea that in the skies, the skies are no longer safe. and when the strikes happened, it could be very close to you. it could be your neighbors or loved ones involved. obviously, you want to help them. now people are scared to do that. it is quite shocking. we see that as unlawful. we can't to see the justification for that. we really call on the u.s., as we saw with jay carney claiming this is a legal program, fine, show us the legal justification for it and ensure those justifications and the fact given to a genuinely dependent impartial investigator. that is what we say to the us
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government, come clean, shows what is your evidence for justifying rescue attacks and other unlawful killings as document it in the report. >> let's go back to jay carney, the white house spokesperson, who is asked a question about the amnesty report and reiterated the precision of u.s. drone strikes. targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent lives. u.s. counterterrorism operations are precise, unlawful, and effective. and the u.s. does not take lethal strikes unless we have the ability to capture individual terrorists. our preference is always to detain, interrogate, and prosecute. we take extraordinary care to make sure our counterterrorism trends are in accordance with all applicable domestic and international law, and that they are consistent with u.s. values and u.s. policy.
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of particular note, before we take any counterterrorism strike outside areas of active hostilities, there must be near certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured, and that is the highest standard we can set. >> that was the white house spokesperson jay carney. mustafa qadri, your response? >> if that is the case, how do they justify killing a grandmother? precise,weapons are so if their standard and policies freezing them are very rigorous and have the high standards as you mentioned, explain that to the family of mamana bibi. how and why was she killed? was this a mistake? were she to liberally targeted? this clearly shows it is not correct. actual legal policy justification given to us thus far have not been sufficient. let's be clear about this. the information we have is received is from leaks to the media enter anonymous official
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sources. it has not been directly from government. at the moment, they're basically telling us, trust us. are reliable, professional people. the reality is, because these killings are happening in lawless areas, remote areas, the u.s. knows it can get away with murder because it is very hard for people to verify the claim. how long would this administration merely say, look, we do things -- we need to see the facts. need toery minimum we have an explanation of how you can justify killing a grandmother. >> mustafa qadri, you have also said that only some of the strikes could constitute war crimes. how is it that u.s. drone unders could be brought international law? in other words, how could drone strikes in a sovereign country be made legal? ways there are two rough
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this could happen. the law is quite technical. basically, it could be because of a spillover of the conflict in afghanistan so that, for example, if you have a military command of the afghan taliban and in hot pursuit and slips into the border into north waziristan, in the right conditions, that might be lawful. alternatively, against the local insurgency, the u.s. has killed members of that insurgency. that might be lawful. again, there are strict requirements that have to be satisfied. one of the requirements is not enough that a person in the militant is said to be ok to be killed. they have to be taking an active part in hostilities to be lawfully targeted and other requirements as well. the point is, we're not talking about the whole program is
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unlawful. there is the capacity -- administration officials have assured us there's a whole range of infrastructure experts, people involved in this program. the u.s. obligation is to make sure the program abides by international law. i think the other thing that is really key, can jay carney hit on this as well, the idea of incapacitating people wherever possible. the u.s. has to work with its agostini counterparts -- with its pakistani counterparts in trying to bring these perpetrators to justice before a court in a fair trial. we documented the pakistani authorities have a poor record of bringing these perpetrators to justice in a fair trial. the legal set up in these tribal areas is incredibly poor. pakistan still applies law from the british year that allows it tribes itively punish considers pro-taliban. that has to change.
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these are problems, but there are solutions. we say to the u.s., it needs to make sure it's drones are lawful rather than retrospectively after doing a strike saying, first, we will check to see if any civilians are killed and secondarily, when information comes up assuring us, don't worry, it's all legal in every thing is fine, you can all go home now. thealala yousafzai, pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by taliban gunmen, recently criticized u.s. drone strikes during a meeting with president obama. invited malala yousafzai to the white house early this month to talk -- honor her work on behalf of girls education. the white house statement did not mention another topic raised at the meeting. in her own statement, she wrote --
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your response to that? >> i would like to iterate what she has said, that it is really disappointing that president obama did not mention what she said because that is an important point. i can tell you from the pakistan side that another key part of try to promote education is trying to basically event the taliban from targeting malala yousafzai. one of the problems of the drone debate up till now has been it is been so polarized because the issues are so complicated, there is a tenet to reduce things down either drone are good are bad. at the localok context. the secrecy and the potential unlawfulness of u.s. program, firstly instances pakistanis. -- incidents needsat pakistan really
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to do is move on. he needs to address the fact that even within pakistan there's a huge problem with intolerance and huge problem of a lack of quality education. education, it to is not universally bad, but it is very bad where malala yousafzai is from. these issues need to be addressed. it does spark anti-sentiment, but it creates all sorts of ideas about secret plots and this and that. what has to happen is more discussion about what is the problem in that region and the relationship between the u.s. and pakistan. when the us government basically is secretive and do with the taliban is secretive, al qaeda is secretive, when it's drones are used in a way that causes
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fear in the hearts of people the way al qaeda and taliban causes fear for that shows you what a serious problem we're dealing with. >> thank you for much for being with us, mustafa qadri, author of the amnesty international report. we will have a link to that report called, "will i be next? u.s. drone strikes in pakistan." is the pakistan researcher at amnesty international. on friday, we will be joined by ben emmerson, the un's special repertoire on counterterrorism and human rights. the u.s. has also put out a report on drones as has human rights watch. we will be back in a moment. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. to major neww investigation into how a private prison company that rents juvenile detention centers is rapidly expanding despite a record of abuse and neglect over the past 25 years. be 2 of this series will published today by the huffington post, and the company in question is youth services international. this is a reporter chris kirkham begins a series --
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kirkham goes on to write -- >> those are the opening lines of a new investigation by reporter chris kirkham. despite that history, the huffington post reports that
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slattery's company, youth services international, has expanded its contracts to operate juvenile prisons in several states. more than 40,000 boys and girls in 16 states have gone through his facilities in the past two decades. this comes as nearly 40% of all detained juveniles are now committed to private facilities, and in florida, it is 100%. for more we're joined by chris kirkham, business reporter at the huffington post, where he is just published his new two-part investigative series, "prisoners of profit: private prison empire rises despite startling record of juvenile abuse." to democracy now! talk about what you found. >> i think the point you made about florida having this 100% privatized system is the first thing that got me interested to the idea of this state essentially handing over this pretty crucial function, i think, of the goal of rehabilitating youth and preventing them from becoming criminals, to private companies.
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i was kind of curious who the major players were out there and started looking around. i realized this company services international has existed under various names in the last 25 years. basically, the pattern of behavior has been pretty consistent. sort of a lot of contract validationsa lot of of abuse. typically whenever there have been problems through the years, the company will sort of -- in some cases it is pulled out of contracts as the state was starting to amass evidence there was some really serious problems or the contracts will it end in the state will say, "we're not going to renew this anymore. it has been interesting that there has not been a lot of -- there's been a lot of cases where the state has terminated their contract and that kind of goes on record. and when you're applying for new contracts, then that comes up in sort of your history.
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it is interesting to see how a company like this for despite the problems i brought up and you just noted now, a lot of ese things don't often come up in the contract review process or when there are plenty get new contracts. this was what really interested me about the story. >> can you talk about jim slattery's role? how did he start? >> he has a pretty interesting history. initially he was in the hotel business in new york city. he worked in the sheraton hotel corporation and ran hotels around new york city. , he got involved with a few other business partners and they owned and managed a few hotels around the city. the 1980sme it was in in new york city, crime was extremely high, property values were going down. a lot of property owners realize they could get more money from
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housing essentially homeless people, welfare -- they could get welfare money from the government. >> they call them welfare hotels. >> exactly. it destroyed a lot of neighborhoods. they sort of flooded these buildings with people who probably should have been in treatment, but instead they were warehousing these people in these facilities. it was the first wave in building a business off of government money. the city started shutting these down because they realize there were tons of code violations. in one of these hotels, some children died in a fire after they were sort of left alone. pretty bad conditions in these hotels. next, they have these properties and at this time it was kind of reagan was pushing the long terms of privatization of
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government services. federal prisons became the next concept for privatization. a lot of these hotels, there was the possibility of using them for halfway houses. federal prisoners getting out, transitional housing for them. that was kind of how we first got into the federal contracting game. from there, what has been interesting is i sort of discovered once you get into this business, it is really hard to get out. there is not a lot of barriers seemingly, but a lot of companies don't want to get into this business so it is kind of the same few actors that handle a lot of these private prison contracts. in this case, there were able to get the federal halfway house contract. there were a lot of problems with those early on. really poor conditions that were found in these buildings. i think one of the inspection reports i saw claimed there was only enough food for baby half
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of the inmates. -- for maybe half of the inmates. whoever got there first got the food and who ever missed out or left to their own devices. that time, they are starting to look at privatizing their facilities. they started getting contract after contract. the rest is history. since then, he sort of moved into the juvenile business. he started doing a lot of adult prisons around the country and then in 2005, he sold off a lot of his assets to another big private prison company called the geo group, which is still in existence today. whack and hide. >> yes. then he bought back the youth division for his own company. now he has been mostly in the juvenile private direction. >> one of the arguments in favor of privatization, which also
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mention in your report, is that private prisons were detention facilities are able to provide better services at lower cost. what is it that you found and how to these conditions, for example what you just said, that there was food often for only half the inmates, so how do you -- how do these private silkies impair with public facilities of a comparable kind? >> that is a difficult question. the claim by the industry as they can offer these services at a much lower cost. really, there has been no studies that have not been financed by the industry that have proven that. it is a difficult claim. what is the exact same service being provided by public corruption's department and the private operator? did they have the same needs in terms of inmates and services for health or therapy?
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thosedifficult to make comparisons. in these cases, i think when oversight is not as strong as it can be, companies are only going to be incentivized to do what the government that is paying them makes them do. in these cases, is the oversight is lacking, if there is not constant monitoring, i think there is an incentive to cut cost and services. >> tell us what you found in florida. 100% of the juvenile facilities are for-profit. >> 100% our property has. he was a mixed of nonprofit and for-profit. >> what did you find these facilities? what was happening to the kids? >> basically, there was consistent accounts of physical abuse from guards. basically, you had a lot of guards who are getting paid very
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little. >> what is the age range of the children in these facilities? >> it is like 13 to 18. we're talking about teenagers, boys and girls in these facilities. they are not mixed. there are different facilities for each. the guards often resorted to violence as sort of the first means of just dealing with the situation. these are obviously troubled kids. that is the reason they are in the facilities the first place. but a lot of times you discovered the courts are often the same, knew the kids from the neighborhood, perhaps had gotten in trouble with the kids before and already have relationships with the kids. the guards were not the highest caliber of staff. a lot of times you had sort of gang affiliation, rivalry between guards and youth within the facilities, which caused a lot of problems. facility inin a
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broward county, florida, just north of miami, there was a boy who claimed that he'd been forced to perform oral sex on one of the guards. he told the authorities this three times and only the third time, 10 months later, did they finally reported to police. the other thing was a lot of the incidents that were documented, there was evidence and a lot of former employees told me that was only a fraction of what was actually happening. >> and the peace that came out today and the huffington post, you go back to an example in 2004 and youth services international was confronted with a potentially expensive situation. there were three months into a $10 million contract to run a juvenile prison in the state of florida and already the facility have become a scene undocumented violence and neglect. what happened next? >> in this case, this is a story that will publish today, there
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was a contract monitor from the state. generally the way these private businesses work is, you run the facility but someone is coming in to inspect every once in a while. this was the inspector. basically, documenting a lot of problems in a complete breakdown in organization, a lot of staff or getting fired for essentially breaking arms of the use, slamming them to the floor, there were escapes. the monitor was really coming down hard on the company in this case. , saying we need to do a lot more reviews, we need -- basically threatening them to reduce the number of kids that could come from facilities, intentionally reducing the amount of money in our contract. at one point the monitor jerryly sent an e-mail, blaine, send an e-mail to his bosses saying, i recommend this
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facility be closed. at that same time, the company went back to the state and basically what around the this guys outid, of control, houston unannounced inspections, he's out of control. we have some serious issues with this guy. two months later, the state fired that monitor. this guy getting fired and blowing the whistle, the state came back a few months later in its annual audit of the facility that essentially confirmed all of the findings this monitor had. mean, theon, i facility had a number of problems in future audits but they managed to continue to retain this contract until just last year when the state -- they didn't actually cancel it, they just said we are reducing the size of our facilities and so
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we're not going to renew this one, but they did give them three new contracts this year. >> i want to turn to a statement of youth services international. this is the senior vice president jesse williams who said -- chris, your response to that? he is sayingse, the truth and that they are inspected. i think the question and all of these cases is, what is the point of the inspection, what kind of questions are being asked in the inspection? what i noticed as i dug into the states review process for these private juvenile prisons was
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that, really, there's a lot more focus on technical contract compliance as opposed to really getting inside the facility and talking to the staff and the kids and saying, how are you doing? are you being treated well? are you eating? this really wasn't a focused. it was more of the right paperwork and the right doors, do the nurses have the proper credentials, is the medication properly secured. it was more technical stuff and actually really trying to understand what was going on. >> about a decade ago, a florida judge criticized correctional services corp., the former company of james slattery, during a hearing about widespread complaints of violence at one of its facilities their miami. juvenile judge ron alvarez was so horrified at the pahokee youth develop the center that he compared it to "a third world country that is controlled by
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some type of evil power." the more recent interview, same judge expressed amazement that slattery still runs facilities. he said -- in this last response, can you talk about what is happening? is there any kind of investigation beside yours? is his company continuing to get contracts? >> it is. they just won three new contracts. i think what that judge is expressing there is the feeling of a lot of advocates and people who have been following juvenile justice for a long time. i think there is this inertia that when the state -- about 20 years ago the state decided it was getting out of the business of handling these juvenile what stillt i think needs to happen and what really hasn't happened yet and what
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this history shows is that, really, there is a need to really hold your private providers of the youth services accountable. -- of these services accountable. i think when you outsource something like this and essentially throw away the key, i think that is what frustrates a lot of people. >> chris kirkham, thank you for being with us, has just published is due to-part investigative series, "prisoners of profit: private prison empire rises despite startling record of juvenile abuse." we will have a link to both stories on when we come back, kids for cash. we will look i can pennsylvania at the remarkable scandal that has unfolded over the last few years of judges being bribed to put down since of kids and local for-profit prisons. and what happened now. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. the latestnow to news on the so-called kids for cash scandal in pennsylvania, in which judges took money in exchange for sending thousands of juvenile offenders to for- profit youth jails. in 2011, former luzern county judge mark ciavarella was convicted of accepting drives -- bribes for putting juveniles into detention centers operated by the companies pa childcare and a sister company, western pennsylvania child care. he and another judge, michael conahan, are said to have received 2.6 million dollars for the effort. some of the young people sentenced under their watch or jailed over the objections of their probation officers. in 2009, democracy now! with one of the youth people -- young people whose bent honesty year and one of the juvenile detention centers after being
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sentenced by judge mark ciavarella. >> i was about 14 years old. i had got into an argument with one of my friends. that happened was just a basic fight. she slapped me in the face. i did the same thing back. canas nomar, no witnesses adjust her word against my word. my only charges were simple assault and harassment and i did not even know charges were pressed against me until i had to go down to the intake information and fill out a bunch of paperwork. >> i asked jamie quinn in 2009 about the action luzern county mark ciavarella took in her case after taking bribes to do so. this was her response. makes me really question other authority figures and people that were supposed to look up to and trust. i mean, mark ciavarella has been a judge for a long time, from what i know, and a well respected one, is what i
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thought, and obviously not. it makes me question and not trust other people. if someone like judge mark ciavarella can do this, it makes me believe anyone can betray. >> now the private juvenile detention company at the heart of the kids for cash scandal in pennsylvania has settled a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million. the state also passed much- needed reforms aimed at improving its juvenile justice system and ensuring such abuses are not repeated. for more we go to philadelphia to marsha levick, chief counsel of the juvenile law center which helped expose the corrupt judges and represented the families class-action suit. welcome back to democracy now! just lay out this latest settlement which follows an earlier one a few years ago, and just the horror of this. these two judges who were found guilty of bribing are in prison now? >> they are in prison. the latest settlement is fairly straightforward.
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$2.5 million which will provide for the compensation to the juveniles. i really think this is an opportunity, obviously, to close another chapter on what happened in luzern county. i would add, really listening to the story leading up to this about the private for-profit centers elsewhere, it is really important thing for us as a country, i think your listeners, to know that while we can talk about what happens in private centers, some of which are not- for-profit, the same kinds of abuses can occur in state facilities as well. >> what do you see as the wider implications of the settlement that was reached? >> i think the wider implications are for us to continue to shine a spotlight on how we as a country treat children who are convicted of crimes. we treat them harshly. i think this notion of whether or not private centers are providing the same services as public centers, we need to ask
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ourselves, what kind of services do we want to be providing for children? in pennsylvania, i think by exposing what happened with the judges scandal, we also had an opportunity to achieve great reforms. we have changed statutory policies in pennsylvania with respect to children's right to ability toth their obtain appointed counsel on their own resuming they in fact don't have financial resources to do that. we have eliminated for the most part shackling in pennsylvania courtrooms. we have provided and required that judges give a statement of reasons. so when judges in pennsylvania commit children to public or private run centers, they need to have an explanation for why they're doing that. i think the kinds of stories that we are hearing about what might be happening in florida or california, for example, we don't have the same kinds of protections, we don't have the same kind of transparency in place. >> in 2011, sandy fonzo
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confronted former judge mark ciavarella outside the courtroom after his sentencing. funds upon son was sentenced by mark ciavarella to use gel and then a four month boot camp. edward committed suicide in june 2010. confronting shapiro, sandy fonzo lame the judge for her son's death. >> my son is not here. he is dead because of him. you ruined my life. i would like him to go to hell and rot there forever! he told everyone in court they need to be held accountable for their actions. do you remember me? two member my son? he has no heart. use comeback. but that was sandy fonzo whose son committed suicide after being put away by judge mark ciavarella. she was yelling at him after he was convicted. you feel that do
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justice has been done in this case? ini think we are still process. there are couple of defendants we're still litigating against. i think we have achieved remarkable progress. i think the settlement, i think the convictions of the two judges and their current incarceration are all putting pieces of the puzzle together, but i think -- again, i think the story leading up to our conversation this morning illustrates, there's much work to be done across the country. this is a national story. it is still a national problem. i think these conversations, hopefully, are a wake-up call about the kinds of reforms we need to continue to be thinking about for our kids. >> what happened to those prisons for four kids in pennsylvania, the ones that were involved with bribing the judges who are now in jail? >> they continue to operate. not abouttion was conditions within these facilities.
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they continue to bribe -- to provide services. this was really about primarily the action of the judges, their behavior in the courtroom, and how they were so willing to remove children from their homes with really very little due process and very little regard for the rights or interests. >> marsha levick, thank you for being with us cofounder for chief counsel of the juvenile law center taste in philadelphia. the juvenile law center helped expose the corrupt judges and is now involved in the families class-action suit. that does it for our show. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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terry been i will be starting a association where one in 11 children go under -- go without food. this week, the tavis family foundation is launching ending nationala four-year initiative to examine barriers and examine solutions to alleviate poverty here in america. we will start that with andrew mccarthy, president and ceo of the casey foundation, dedicated to building better features for disadvantaged children. this will turn into a carcinoid
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greg kaufman. we are glad you have joined us. those conversations are coming up right now. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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the war on poverty, and only has it not been one, but we are losing battle after .attle game part ofick mccarthy is the charitable organization that has a leadership role in finding solutions that seems to be an intractable issue in this country. >> so happy to be with you. tavis: why -- tabby is it that we can seem to get traction on a real conversation about alleviating poverty in
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america? when we think about our own growing up, we have talked about opportunity in this country. if you have worked hard and stayed hard and do it you are told, you can get ahead. i think that is still a core value that we have as americans. it is very hard for americans to hear that there are many fellow citizens and their children who are in poverty. it is hard to hear that, even as we struggle with the question of how do we keep folks on the path toward opportunity. tois difficult for people engage in that position. but we have to. you are -- tavis you are right, but there are so many americans in the million who are living the story. the numbers tell the story. vested oro your less
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left or right, somebody struggling with this. how can you not get a conversation about it when this is not a poor story. i you, airing out in you and tax you are thanks i issues that part of the that there are major economic changes in the last 30 years. we have certainly entered a world of global competition. we have high productivity which brings the rices of their consumer is down. at the same time, there are fewer jobs available than there used to be back when manufacturing