The scene from the Challenger Learning Center’s screening of KIDS FOR CASH

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The 287-seat IMAX theater was remarkably full last night, considering that the Legislature is in town and the Mint Lounge was spitting distance away.

The half-dozen lawmakers in attendance, along with the rest of the audience, could have used a stiff drink for the screening of KIDS FOR CASH, a new documentary from award winning producer-director Robery May.

May was here for the screening, hosted by the James Madison Institute; the MacArthur Foundation; FSU’s Project on Accountable Justice; the Southern Poverty Law Center; and others united in the belief that jailing kids for offenses that used to be dealt with in the Principal’s office is a grotesque waste of taxpayer money and a moral evil of Biblical proportions. 

The sordid details of the scandal are available on Wikipedia.  Two Pennsylvania judges are serving time for their role in building a juvenile detention center and keeping it full of kids who didn’t need to be there.  Visit Florida may or may not like the scenes filmed in Jupiter, where one of the miscreants awaited sentencing in luxurious surroundings purchased with public funds he pocketed destroying families. 

The heroine of the film was also at the IMAX and joined May to answer audience questions following the screening. Marsha Levick and her team of Philadelphia legal aid lawyers reversed the convictions and expunged the records of 2,480 youths.  

For Levick, there’s a bigger picture. “People saw [what what the disgraced judges were doing] and said nothing.  People knew and didn’t act,” she said.

Kids for Cash is a chilling meditation upon the sin of silence. It will be in general release early next year.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.