We know we are probably late to the game in watching this documentary, Kids for Cash, which was released in 2014. However, it is currently available to watch on Netflix and we highly recommend it to anyone who has a remote interest in the law, the legal system, or the juvenile system.
Law students and lawyers will find it very interesting — especially in light of the right to counsel issues and ethical issues that are raised by the conduct of the judges involved in the scandal.
The documentary, Kids for Cash, is about a judge who had a monetary investment in a prison where he promised to send children in exchange for a profit. He encouraged participants to waive their right to counsel and he sentenced children to ridiculously long time periods (4 or 5 years and in some cases more!) so that they would “learn their lesson.”
A child named Charlie spent five years in the juvenile system because his parents bought him a scooter (that happened to be stolen property). One student was arrested for “terroristic threats” for making a fake Myspace page for her vice principal. Another student committed suicide after spending much of his life in juvenile detention.
Kids for cash describes the movie as follows: “Kids For Cash is a riveting look behind the notorious judicial scandal that rocked the nation. Beyond the millions paid and high stakes corruption, Kids For Cash exposes a shocking American secret. In the wake of the shootings at Columbine, a small town celebrates a charismatic judge who is hell-bent on keeping kids in line…until one parent dares to question the motives behind his brand of justice. This real-life thriller reveals the untold stories of the masterminds at the center of the scandal and the chilling aftermath of lives destroyed in the process – a stunning emotional roller coaster.”
The documentary shows both sides of the story—you see interviews with both judges who were charged, and you see interviews with several of the children and their families. Viewing multiple angles of the story — from the children, the children’s family, the judges, and the media — keeps this story interesting the entire way through.
If you have some extra time on your hands over the weekend, it is definitely worth a watch. To learn more about the documentary, Kids for Cash, click here.
[To read my last movie recommendation for Somm, click this link. I especially recommend Somm to bar exam takers!]