Kids targeted via school free lunch program alleges Kids for Cash aunt

Community members gathered Saturday, September 27, in Wilkes-Barre’s Kirby Park for support and outreach to anyone afflicted by the injustice of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties’ judicial systems. The Strengthening Families, Restoring Liberty and Justice Rally was held during a beautiful afternoon and was organized by Bruce Levine and Lou Jasikoff, two of many in attendance crusading to cap corruption in the local courtrooms.

Many attendees came out to share their encouragement, also exposing their personal stories, ranging from domestic relations cases gone wrong, to the Kids for Cash and — more recently — Custody for Cash scandals, right down to police intimidation, judicial embezzlement, and out-of-court harassment. Though their tragic stories differed, their voices struck a single message: Justice now!

And their outcry has not fallen on deaf ears.


Bruce Levine and Judy Lorah Fisher

Wilkes-Barre local and Libertarian candidate for the Pennsylvania House’s 121st District seat, Betsy Summers, shared her empathy and resolve. “To think that this is happening and is ongoing. Just ask the people here. Their stories are heart-wrenching. Even judges have become part of the system,” she said.

Democratic candidate Andy Ostrowski, challenging incumbent Lou Barletta in the Eleventh Congressional District race, also stopped by to show his support for ending the imbalance of power which has taken root within the courts. He commented, “The courts define the boundaries of the Constitution and the power and authority of actors under color of law, and in this modern world they’re being more and more favorable to the police and law enforcement, expanding their powers and limiting the rights of the individuals. That’s the core of the problem and we’ve got people suffering all over.”

(L to R): Andy Ostrowski, Lou Jasikoff, and Larry Hohol

(L to R): Andy Ostrowski, Lou Jasikoff, and Larry Hohol

Judy Lorah Fisher understands that suffering all too well. Her niece, Amanda, was 13 years old when she was sentenced as the Kids for Cash scandal was running its course. Judy recounted the terror, fear, and hopelessness involved with the traumatic experience. “She was a good student and got good grades. She loved to dance, and she was an athlete.” Amanda played volleyball, and during one practice another student was struck by the ball Amanda had hit over the net. The girl responded by shoving Amanda repeatedly until Amanda finally shoved back.

I’m going to tell you how they did it: they picked all of the low-income students who were on the school’s free student lunch program. They knew they couldn’t afford attorneys before they ever even went into court.

Amanda was sent to the school office, where matters took an unexpected turn. “We expected both of the girls to get suspended, but instead we got a letter in the mail saying [Amanda] had to appear in Juvenile Court. It went right past the magistrate, and straight to the Juvenile Court. Amanda had never even been in trouble before this,” Fisher said. It was during the 2006–2007 school year that Amanda was shackled like a criminal, dragged out of court, and began her four years’ incarceration in a juvenile detention center — all on the basis of assault charges stemming from the volleyball incident.

The abuse Amanda faced behind bars was scarring both physically and psychologically. “Amanda was a bright, outward person, but she was so abused in there. She still has scars around her ankles from the shackles,” Fisher said. While Amanda suffered, Fisher refused to  rest until her niece’s story was heard. But as she performed her own research she learned a tragic truth about how deep the rabbit hole of corruption really extended. “Over 3,000 kids were incarcerated during Kids for Cash, and I’m going to tell you how they did it: they picked all of the low-income students who were on the school’s free student lunch program. They knew they couldn’t afford attorneys before they ever even went into court.”

Although Ciavarella is serving a 28-year sentence, the damage was done, and for people like Amanda, who now struggles with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the relief of that sentence was too little, too late. Fisher’s work thus remains unfinished. “The same environment exists in those courts today as it did then. Nothing has changed. It’s just business as usual.”

  • Brian Tylutke
  • Brian Tylutke is a 25-year-old Pennsylvania native. An Independent and free-thinker, he enjoys reading and studying about science and philosophy and is an avid philologist or "lover of words."

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  1. this is so sad,  greedy basturds the court system  making money  by clandestine  methods  victimizing children who are already poor    need to JAIL ’em

  2. I appreciate the effort you guys put into this but you really need someone rational and lucid to look over this stuff before you post.

  3. PA judges are bought and sold like stolen merchandise at an outdoor flea market. Kids for Cash should be taught in every classroom in PA.

  4. Keep in mind that PA government is a cesspool. Thanks to folks like the
    Zappala Crime Family/Terrorist Group. Although I can’t take credit for
    finding this information on my own, it still needs to be shown to the
    Rotten apples don’t fall too far from a rotten tree. The
    father of former PA Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen Zappala Sr.,
    grandfather of Allegheny DA Stephen Zappala Jr. and the owner of Kids
    for Cash juvenile detention centers Gregory Zappala was nothing but a
    Zappala’s can’t win a case, unless it’s fixed, including the Senator Jane Orie and Justice Orie kangaroo trials.
    Read for yourself and make your own decision.

    I can say with some confidence that: Luzerne County’s courts are still a bit tainted. There are quite a few folks employed in the courthouse that sat silently by as those kids were shipped off to private detention ceters. However, most were in fear of losing thier jobs; it’s still no excuse for letting it happen. The Public Pretender’s office is a cauldron of injustice, as they cut deals with the prosecutors without your consent, and the judges go along with this crap. That’s a serious accusation right? Too bad it’s the TRUTH as well. ;-D…

  6. Isn’t
    it amazing how little our lives mean? To legislatures and courtrooms
    across this nation? How they profit from our misery?
    “They [all officers of the court] knew they [targeted citizenry] couldn’t afford attorneys before they ever even went into court. The same environment exists in those courts today as it did then. Nothing has
    changed. It’s just business as usual.”
    Yes it does!
    I believe I was identified in the same manner, through public school via hardship programs. I wasn’t eligible for their programs, but like others, the school kept me continually applying knowing I did not
    The school had an opinion of me and the school had a way to make it
    happen, how to get me to where I could not afford legal representation,
    how to make this round peg fit into their square hole no matter what.
    The judge and magistrate couple who ruled over my cases went the added measure of giving all assets to a criminal during my divorce (courtesy of backroom wife swapping deals), making me homeless just before spinal surgery (an injury law enforcement brethren refused to identify as
    domestic violence). I was homeless, penniless, facing spinal surgery, while my daughters were placed with those who had successfully negotiated. And the judge/wife duo has continued to assist in
    incriminate me with false charges for years. Doubtful readers can cling to their false notions if that makes them feel better, but my case is WELL DOCUMENTED, along with countless high profile cases nationwide.
    This is happening all over folks. How many parents aren’t aware of who
    their kids (the ex, a teacher, a neighbor, an agency), why their kids
    are wanted, what particular agency will profit, or what group of
    criminals will profit, and how the deals are being negotiated?

  7. Nothing has changed!  Happening everywhere.  WAKE UP!

  8. My question is what kind of discipline was meted out to the principals and teachers of these public schools, the police, and others who had their hands involved in this scandal?  How many simply walked away, have since retired with full retirement benefits, been promoted, and gotten raises?  Why haven’ they been brought to justice for their part in the crimes.  Sure you might have gotten the big dogs, but we need to cleanup the rest of the excrement involved in this.  Why do we always leave the job unfinished?

    Witch hunt?  Nope!  It’s called justice.  The law breakers are always there up front supporting those doing wrong, but are quick to run and hide like rats in a sinking ship.  We need to ferret these criminals out, with no exceptions, and make a crystal clear example of what happens to people who openly break our laws.  Else, why do we have laws?

  9. Tom Freston  So…You are part of the new thought police?  Are we to be harassed now for expressing our own thoughts?  Ever heard of free speech?  Or are you one of those fascist Nazi progreSSives that we know as the PC police?

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