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By NWV Senior Political News Writer, Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
September 4, 2015

Part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's multi-trillion dollar, decades-old Great Society endeavor -- that promised to rid America of poverty -- was a vocational training program geared towards so-called "at-risk" young people. The theory was simple: offering poor youths free job training would help to end the cycle of poverty among the underprivileged especially African Americans. However, according to a report on Tuesday by a public-interest watchdog, the mismanagement and misfeasance within the program led to it becoming an environment filled with violence which in turn was covered up by the officials in charge and those who were profiting from the $1.6 billion giveaway.

According to Judicial Watch, an organization that investigates and exposes government corruption, the problem of violent crime was exposed due to the shocking behavior of three youths participating in the program, known as Job Corps. They were reported to have brutally murdered another participant in a Miami, Florida job training center.

The Miami Herald reported that the Job Corps students admitted that they lured a 17-year-old into the woods, where he was viciously hacked to death with a machete and shoved into a shallow grave. After the group of students buried the body and cleaned up the bloody scene, accused ringleader Kaheem Arbelo stayed in the woods to have sex with his girlfriend before returning to the Job Corps campus, the report said.

In another incident at a Jobs Corps center in St.Louis, Missouri, KMOV TV news described a murder in a dorm room: "The victim, who was later identified as 21-year-old Matthew Anderson, was found dead in his dorm room with a gunshot wound in his chest. Police say the suspect, Matthew Carlock, 20, entered the room and shot Anderson. Carlock then fled the scene, but later surrendered to University City police and is currently in St. Louis Police custody. He has been charged with first degree murder."

These two August crime stories are part and parcel of what Judicial Watch official believe is a larger problem within the Job Corps, which serves students ages 16-24 from low-income families at more than 100 campuses throughout the U.S.. The Department of Labor (DOL) -- ironically headed by a former assistant attorney general under Eric Holder, Thomas Perez -- which administers Job Corps, has also been a hotbed of fraud and corruption. The DOL officials insist it has a strict, no-tolerance policy prohibiting violence of any kind or illegal drugs.

But according to Judicial Watch, "The reality is, however, that crime is rampant at local centers around the country and seldom do cases get reported or are they adequately investigated. Often officials sweep incidents under the [carpet] or downplay the [activity] to prevent the offenders from getting booted out of the taxpayer-funded program."

"One would think having Thomas Perez, who was the number three man at the Justice Department, in charge would lead to a 'cleanup' of violent crime or government corruption, but you have to remember that Perez is famous for dropping all charges against the New Black Panther Party after their 2008 election day intimidation of voters," said Charles Bennett, a former state police inspector.

In February 2015, an Inspector General's report slammed the DOL for its lax enforcement of Job Corps' disciplinary policies: "From January 1, 2012, through December 31, 2013, the OIG received numerous complaints alleging serious student misconduct (e.g., assault, illegal drugs, and fighting) at 12 centers often went uninvestigated, disciplinary actions were not taken, and some centers were unsafe.... In many cases serious infractions were not reported or were improperly downgraded to lesser infractions, the agency watchdog found. They include assault, illegal drugs and fighting among the students."

The Inspector General's report also noted: "We selected all 35,021 serious misconduct incidents reported in CIS during CYs 2012 and 2013. Since students can incur multiple infractions for a single incident, we reviewed the highest level infractions associated with these incidents – 8,985 Level I zero tolerance and 26,036 Level II infractions – to determine whether they were addressed in accordance with Job Corps’ disciplinary policies. The CIS records showed 26 percent (8,928) of the 35,021 required investigations and Fact Finding Boards were either not conducted or not documented; and when they were conducted, 15 percent (5,304) were not done within required [sic] timeframes.”

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While crimes committed by students undergoing Job Corps training is a problem, there has been more going on in the program than covering up serious crimes over the years. There were and continue to be allegations of fraud including cases of waste of taxpayer money such as the abuse of prepaid debit cards. Also there were cases of unscrupulous contract practices. Judicial Watch cited one case in which close to a quarter of a million dollars in suspicious personal purchases were made by both staff and students on government debit cards. A separate Inspector General's investigation determined that Job Corps paid out hundreds of millions of dollars for questionable contracts and failed to keep proper documentation.

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But according to Judicial Watch, "The reality is, however, that crime is rampant at local centers around the country and seldom do cases get reported or are they adequately investigated...