NEW YORK CITY — Kids for Cash. Three words that forever changed the juvenile justice system in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
A documentary about the scandal made its world debut last night in New York City.
A sold out crowd took in the movie at New York’s Documentary Film Festival.
They watched the story of disgraced judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan.
Both are now jailed.
Ciavarella received 28 years in federal prison for wire fraud, tax evasion, and honest services fraud.
A judge gave Conahan 17 and a half years in prison for his corrupt dealings.
The film featured lengthy interviews with both judges and was directed by a man from Luzerne County.
Robert May has a long list of movie credits but “Kids for Cash” is the first film he worked on, that told a story from Luzerne County, where he lives.
A sold out crowd took in the world premiere of may’s documentary on Sunday at a film festival in New York.
May recounted for Newswatch 16 the four years of work that went into making “Kids for Cash” including more than 600 hours of interviews.
The victims of “Kids for Cash” and their families struck a powerful chord with the director.
“I can tell you that spending the last four years with these families changed my life,” said May.
Robert May promised he would tell both sides of the story and one of the highlights of the film are the interviews with the judges themselves, Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella.
Conahan was less emotional. The film-maker interviewed him at the now infamous condo in Florida that was linked to the multimillion dollar scandal.
Ciavarella remained defiant, insisting that he never jailed children for profit and that he felt betrayed by Conahan’s guilty plea.
Ciavarella also broke down in tears when talking about his grandchildren.
The film’s first audience seemed to love it.
“I think what really struck me was these kids and their families are so articulate, but they never had a voice,” said May.
There are no film clips available yet for “Kids for Cash”.
The movie is set to be released nationwide in February.