Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.
e-mail: batushkad@yahoo.com

Monday, January 26, 2009


These judges in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania violated the public trust and have harmed children. I had spoken in the past about these concerns, and it is very positive that action to bring these public officials to task. However- I have also noted that Luzerne County is not the only place where this sort of corruption appears to be occurring. We must continue to be diligent and expose these sort of situations and do what is right for our children! I will certainly be collaborating with a number of grassroots organizations and others on these issues throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide. I am pleased to say that in all of the situations I have been involved in that seemed grim and hopeless, with much determination and patience, justice was won. We must press on.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Update: Judges indicted in Luzerne corruption probe

The Luzerne County Courthouse.

Published: Monday, January 26, 2009
Updated: Monday, January 26, 2009 1:43 PM EST
Two Luzerne County judges were indicted this morning on charges relating to the operation of two juvenile detention centers.

President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, 58, and former President Judge Michael T. Conahan are accused of collecting more than $2 million from the construction, expansion and operation of juvenile detention facilities, and for placing juveniles in those facilities in Luzerne County and Western Pennsylvania.

The indictment charges both judges with engaging in a scheme to defraud the public of their honest services and with conspiring to defraud the IRS.

Ciavarella and Conahan have filed a plea agreement, signed by both judges. The judges stipulated they will resign their judgeship and be disbarred. They will serve 87 months in federal prison and make restitution as stipulated by the court.

Earlier today, Judge Chester B. Muroski announced Ciavarella resigned as Luzerne County president judge.

Muroski's secretary, Sean Duesler, handed out copies of a one-line note Ciavarella sent to Gov. Rendell dated Jan. 23. It said, "Please accept this letter as my official notice to you that I am resigning effective immediately from my position as President Judge of the Eleventh District." (Read Ciavarella's resignation letter / Watch video of Muroski's press conference)

Ciavarella sent copies of the letter to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts and to his eight colleagues on the Luzerne County bench.

Muroski, the eldest member of the Luzerne County judiciary, will oversee the administration of the courts until an en banc meeting can be scheduled and a vote of the judges taken. State law requires the meeting be held after 72 hours notice is given.

"I am confident that the current members of this court are prepared to address the following priorities in an expedition manner," Muroski said at an 11:30 a.m. news conference in his court room on the third floor of the Luzerne County Courthouse.

"First, to maintain the function of this court by conducting the business of our court on a timely basis.

"Second, to make every effort to restore public trust and confidence in the judiciary. And third, to make a concerted effort to resolve the county-court budget impasse and the related litigation."

U.S. Attorney Martin Carlson scheduled a 1:30 p.m. press conference at the federal courthouse to discuss an ongoing probe into the Luzerne County Courthouse.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I was very delighted yesterday to have a telephone conversation with Dr. Charles Huffine, M.D., a psychiatrist in Seattle, Washington who has been a dedicated advocate for children and has written extensively on reisdential treatment centers, particularly the abuses that occur in these facilities as well as their being costly and ineffective. I was also pleased to learn of his work with CAFETY (Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth) and the winderful work this organization is doing towards advocating for the true needs of our young people.
I believe that the more we work together, the greater difference we can make. I know many (including myself) feel disillusioned at times by the enormous problems within the system, but if we can work together, and each make our contribution as people of ethics and goodness, the difference will be seen in time, we must be patient.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


This important legislation has been passed in the House and will be introduced in the Senate in 2009. Please contact your Senators to support this legislation!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009




RD Laing had often discussed the conception of mystification, of how individuals can justify enormous evils by saying that are doing the action for someone's own good. It appears that the psychiatric establishment and the systems intimately connected to it (child protective services, justice system, educational system) are often involved in mystification. The Nazi era is one of the most tragic examples of mystification, and such examples today as the Abu Ghraib prison scandal are a more graphic example. In these situations, mystification involves dehumanization, of erasing the person's experience, and making them something other than a person. And so we see this occur in psychiatric hospitals, detention centers, residential treatment facilities, etc.


In one of my more heartbreaking situations, I had worked with a 14 year old young man in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania for some time. This young man had encountered domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse, and witnessed the drug use of his father and a suicide attempt of his mother. His situation was very complicated, yet through this I was able to develop a strong relationship with this often very distrustful young person. Through this alliance, he was able to share with me much of the darkness of his world, many things he found difficult to share with his family members, and until an incident last year, he had been progressing to the point where the psychologist and treatment team were recommending his discharge. However, after this incident, I noticed a gradual change and unfortunate decline, and he began association with a number of negative peers. I knew things were bound for trouble and warned him of this. I knew as well that his deep need for attention, affection, and validation were becoming confused in the midst of his awakening sexuality and in light of the past trauma and abuse he experienced. I noticed that as the new school year began, he began putting up distance with me, and it was shortly thereafter that 'all hell broke loose' with him becoming involved in the juvenile justice system. He was charged in regards to an incident where he had thoughts in regards to sexual abuse, but did not actually follow through with this action. The juvenile system as well as the Wyoming County Human Services Agency handled this young man's situation in a means that was far from compassionate, far from rehabilitative, and actually detrimental to his emotional well being. After investigation and obtaining information from colleagues, I determined that a number of youth with similar charges had received far less harsh treatment by the system. I also found that while the system wrangled over who paid for what, they allowed this child to be ripped from his family (causing trauma for his young siblings as well who remain confused as to this circumstance) and to languish with no connections to anyone and his prior therapeutic alliance completely cut off and no help provided. He was 'evaluated' but never was any information in regards to his past victimization or prior treatment considered. He has been recommended for a residential treatment facility in Erie, PA. Curious enough, this facility (which is 6 hours away) houses another youth from the same area. In light of the recent charges brought against Luzerne County Judges Conahan and Ciavarella in regards to taking kickbacks for sending youth to detention facilities, one could easily suspect a similar situation occurring here. According to F.E. Zimring (2004) of the University of Chicago, 90% of juvenile sex offenses are a one time event that do not recur. The NCSBY indicates that the vast majority of these youth can be helped in community based programs. However, this information was obviously ignored. According to a report from the Judge Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, residential facilities have often had low rates of success, are highly costly, and abuses have occurred (overuse of psychiatric drugs, injuries involving restraint, and seclusion).
See: http://www.bazelon.org/issues/children/factsheets/rtcs.htm
In addition, the residential treatment facility that was recommended was asked to provide a plan of correction in 2007 because of inappropriate incidents that occurred at the facility. This information is publicly available from the Department of Public Welfare. In addition, after dialoguing with a person previouslt affiliated with the managed care company which often provided funding fot this residential treatment facility in Erie, Pennsylvania, I was informed that there have been a number of incidents of abuses, particularly improper restraints, and children have been hurt by inappropriate staff. But this did not prevent the Wyoming County caseworker from trying to sell this facility as it were a 'godsend'.
In spite of this information as well, the system continues its agenda as it appears evident that there are vested interests.
I am sadly quite sure that this is not the first of many incidents of distressed and disadvantaged youth whose needs are not truly being met by a corrupt system claiming to help but only concerned for their own interests. It is a travesty, and it is necessary for those truly concerned for the well being of our youth to continue the struggle to insure that our children's voices are truly heard, and that we address the needs of troubled youth in a rehabilitative and compassionate manner.
I so greatly appreciate the efforts of those who have stood with me in this important struggle. We will NEVER give up, no matter what games are played, what corruption we must tackle. Our kids are too important.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Monday, January 12, 2009


When parents are not adequate often Child Protective Services steps in. But is the State to be deemed a better parent? Who do we report to when the State is abusive, possibly more so than the natural parents of the child? We see youth placed in detention facilities and residential facilities. In these settings, they are placed often under conditions that lead them to further emotional distress. It appears that this is the game. The decisions to place children is often not based on a genuine interest in the child's best interests, but what will be profitable and the easiest way out of having to actually rehabilitate a youth and meet their emotional needs. It is no wonder that the socio-economically disadvantaged youth are the ones that are so frequently seen in this system. Some of these children have been taught through their family dynamics to be aggressive and to seek to dominate others. How does placing a child into a detention center or residential facility which often is geared towards the concept of staff forcing conformity through rewards and punishments and often by deprivation teach a child who seeks to use power inappropriately that this is wrong? How does a militaristic system teach anything but that the child must submit to someone stronger than themselves? It only reinforces wrong ideas about power and domination. These facilities are bound to create new emotional problems for these children. But the system profits here as well, because then they are able to label and drug the children and make money in the process of billing for this injustice. These settings set youth up for failure, but that is part of the game as well. A youth is removed from the home, programmed, and when they conform to the expectations, released back to the setting that led to their madness and misbehavior to begin with. It becomes a vicious cycle. But there is money to be made. $70,000 a year for these type of placements, and if things go badly and they must return, well, here is more money to be made. If we spent $70,000 towards providing to the real needs of children and their families, we would be in a much better situation. We need to shift our focus to true rehabilitation and to addressing actual social problems, not locking our children away, drugging them into submission, and ignoring their needs. This may be a dream as long as money and greed remain the focus of those controlling this sick system.
In October 2008, I wrote to Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania sharing some of the concerns I have outlined above as well as a specific situation. It was not until the end of November that I received a response from the Office of Children and Families which expressed "niceties" of how concerned they are for the welfare of the children of the Commonwealth and how the issue related would be looked into. It appears that because this family had a history of challenges, was disadvantaged (thus lacking representation and a real voice in the system), that Child Protective Services and others were able to push forward an agenda. To date, absolutely no action has been taken. This came to me as no surprise as it has been apparent that there are too many vested interests for any reforms to occur in the near future. However, I believe it is necessary for citizens and organizations committed to social justice and children to continue to fight the good fight. I believe that detention and residential centers should become a rarity if non-existent as it has been seen that there do exist community based programming that is far more effective and far more humane. Sadly, I have witnessed how disadvantaged children and particularly minority children are the ones more frequently subjected to these abuses I have mentioned. It is a travesty. We must look at juvenile offenders not merely as 'monsters' or 'troublemakers" but we must look at the underlying roots of why they become anti-social. Anti-social behavior arises as a result of the social, political, and familial processs at work. If society was not as ill as it is, if there existed equality, human rights, etc., it would be obvious that we would see a vast decline in emotional problems, crime, anti-social behaviors, etc.
We must re-examine our priorities. But as long as greed is at work and the desire to take the so-called 'easy way out', these abuses of our children will continue.
It is almost as if the system creates perpetually distressed or anti-social individuals as to keep everyone in their place. Rehabilitation is sadly far from the focus. The State officials can write all the niceties they want about how concerned they are for the children, but the words are empty without real action. And are we to assume that any of these high paid bureaucrats actualy are losing any sleep over the conditions that youth are subjected to? Definitely not.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Sadly, in my work with children and adolescents I have come to the awareness of the fact that there are often many dysfunctional family dynamics and oppressive societal structures that impact these kids that I as one person cannot possibly change though If I could I would. This does not mean that I do not continue to challenge and resist those things that lead to distress and oppression. But, I must realize that many of these young people are placed in situations that are almost like a prison sentence. They cannot escape it, and many times these dynamics tear them apart and often lead them to self-destruction. But, if it can be instilled that this prison sentence could be over in time, that self-destruction is not necessary, but that the person can overcome and be free. I realize that though I cannot change many of these things (largely because those perpetuating it do not want to change), what I can do is to provide these young people a time of respite, a time where they can feel safe and free from the burdens, and know that they have someone who will listen and respect their experience. This in itself is a great gift, and very powerful. It means so much to me when I hear from former clients who tell me what the time I spent with them, often just listening, meant to them. I cannot say that every client had the most wonderful outcome, some overcame, and some persisted in difficulties. But even the ones whose choices were poor and persisted in difficulties, when I spoke to them or corresponded with them, they would remind me of how much it meant to them to have someone on their side, someone who would listen and seek to understand.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.