A film crew for controversial documentarian Michael Moore was in Wilkes-Barre, PA last week, conducting interviews for what is presumed to be his upcoming, untitled documentary. The crew were interviewing people who were involved in the recent Luzerne County Courthouse scandal involving county judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. accepting $2.6 million from two privately owned juvenile detention centers in exchange for helping secure county contracts worth $30 million.
Moore was not present during the shooting.
Up until now, all we knew about Moore’s film was that it was to be “a look at the global financial crisis and the U.S. economy during the transition between the incoming Obama Administration and the outgoing Bush Administration,” as its IMDb logline puts it.
It is understandable that the scandal, which made national news when it broke earlier this year, is something that Moore would be interested. Private prisons have certainly been a growing business over the last ten years, thanks in part to the ongoing Republican drive to pare down the size of government, outsourcing certain services to the private sector.
Ciaveralla and another Luzerne County judge, Michael Conahan, are currently awaiting trial after admitting that they convicted hundreds of juvenile defendants and sentancing them to privately run detention facilities in exchange for kickbacks. The two are currently facing up to seven years in prison, while a class action law suit is being organized on behalf of the children falsely convicted.
Privately run prisons have come under fire in recent years over their treatment of prisoners. One such company, the Geo Group, has come under fire for inmate deaths at several of its facilities.
Thanks to FBOL contributor John Gibbon for the tip on this story. Additional source material from the Hazleton (Pa) Standard Speaker.