Tag Archives: corruption

Candy from a Baby

National School Lunch Program, Author USDA (PD - Federal agency)

National School Lunch Program, Author USDA (PD – Federal agency)

‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me’ ” (Matt. 25: 45).

The fraud making headlines these days can run into the billions.  Ten million dollars may not seem an extraordinary amount, by those standards.  Still, it is substantial enough…especially when you realize that the stolen money was meant to feed hungry children.

A dozen people have been arrested in Arkansas for a scheme that drained funds from a federal program to fight hunger.  The program provides dinners, during the school year, and meals at community centers, during the summer months, to underprivileged children who would not otherwise have enough to eat.

The evidence suggests that employees of the Arkansas Dept. of Health Services responsible for administering the program approved wildly inflated claims, some by non-existent entities, in exchange for bribes.

The defendants have been charged with bribery, wire fraud, and money laundering.  Nine have pleaded guilty.  Statutory penalties will apply.  How much restitution may actually be possible has not yet been determined.

Arkansas has one of the highest rates of child hunger in the United States.  More than 275,000 children in the state qualify for free or reduced lunch.  The ten million dollars could have purchased 2.7-3.2 million meals.

An awful lot of milk and cookies never reached the table.  But stealing that food from the children who needed it was as easy as taking candy from a baby.

[1]  The Washington Post, “ ‘Mortified’:  Inside a $10M scheme to steal federal funds intended to feed hungry children” by Amy Want, 9/8/16,  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/09/08/inside-a-10m-scheme-to-steal-federal-funds-intended-to-feed-hungry-children/.

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Community, Justice, Law, Neglect, Poverty, Religion

Juvenile Justice

According to Mark Twain, “There are three kinds of lies:  lies, damned lies, and statistics.” To most of us, statistics are drier than dust. But numbers can be revealing.

• Earlier this year, the Coalition for the Homeless reported a record-high number of 53,000 homeless regularly spending the night in New York City shelters [1]. Nearly half are children. In March, conditions at two city shelters were found to be so horrific that 400 of these homeless children had to be removed for health and safety reasons.

• Using the “zero tolerance” policy toward school violence as a basis, then popular Pennsylvania judge, Mark Ciavarella, sentenced over 2000 high school students – some without benefit of counsel – to incarceration for offenses as insignificant as swearing at another student’s mother, and creating a false MySpace page. Once in the criminal system, some remained imprisoned for years. At least one committed suicide [2] [2A]. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Justice, Law, Politics, Poverty