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Kids For Cash: A Victim Recovers

Posted on: 2:48 pm, February 7, 2014, by

WILKES-BARRE — A new documentary about the so called Kids For Cash Scandal opened Friday at theaters in Moosic and Wilkes-Barre.

It premiered Thursday in Luzerne County where the scandal broke five years ago.

The movie features some of the kids sent away by former judge Mark Ciavarella.

One of those kids is Hillary Transue, now a young woman.

It’s been several years since Transue spent three weeks in a juvenile detention camp, but the memories are still fresh.

“Even for three weeks, I’ll never forget those three weeks for the rest of my life,” Transue said.

Transue was sent to the camp by Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella.   She had made a Myspace page making fun of her assistant principal at Crestwood High School, a crime she didn’t think of as much of a crime.

“We had to all sit around and write a short essay on why we deserved to be in jail, and so I wrote an essay on why I felt I didn’t deserve to be in jail.”

Transue says when she wrote that essay she was reprimanded

She was just 14 years old at the time. But Transue didn’t have a lawyer in court and she quickly realized many of the kids at juvenile camp hadn’t had attorneys either.

That’s when Transue and her mother took the issue to the Juvenile Law Center.

Eventually the records of Transue and thousands of other juveniles were cleared.

Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan are now serving lengthy sentences in federal prison.

“There’s been some vindication, and at times, I feel closure, but I think then a press release comes out or a movie premieres and I have to relive it again,” Transue said.

After leaving the camp,  Transue says she went through a rough period but now feels she’s overcome what happened and is working on master’s degree in creative writing at Wilkes University.

She says the attention she’s gotten from the Kids For Cash documentary has been bittersweet.

Now she says she just wants to focus on being normal.

“I was only there for three weeks. Kids were put into the system for years and years, and they may never get over it. I’ll never forget it but I’ve moved on.”

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