Judges Jail Kids in Return for Bribes


Senior Master
Nov 18, 2005
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As of the 11th Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan of Pennsylvania were accused of accepting $2.6 million in bribes in return for sending kids to privately-run detention facilities. The for-profit prisons received extra money for each inmate. Now the two have pled guilty. It is estimated that the disgraced jurists gave unusually harsh sentence to thousands young people, generally without the benefit of counsel and sometimes after only a minute or two before the Court.

This sums up the evil inherent in for-profit prisons. When prisons make money based on head count they will do whatever it takes to get more business. Sometimes it's lobbying for tougher sentencing. This time it's paying judges to ensure they have a growing captive market. Add in the disgusting history of civil forfeiture, "three strikes" laws and the ever-increasing mandatory minimum sentences. We've turned punishment into Really Big Business. It's inevitable that these crimes will continue.

More on the business of detention.
An interesting but sadly inactive information project on private prisons.

"I've never encountered, and I don't think that we will in our lifetimes, a case where literally thousands of kids' lives were just tossed aside in order for a couple of judges to make some money," said Marsha Levick, an attorney with the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, which is representing hundreds of youths sentenced in Wilkes-Barre.

Prosecutors say Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and a sister company, Western PA Child Care LLC. The judges were charged on Jan. 26 and removed from the bench by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shortly afterward.


The Constitution guarantees the right to legal representation in US courts.
But many of the juveniles appeared before Ciavarella without an attorney because they were told by the probation service that their minor offences did not require one.

Marsha Levick, chief counsel for the Juvenile Law Centre, estimated that of approximately 5,000 juveniles who came before Ciavarella from 2003 and 2006, between 1,000 and 2,000 received excessively harsh detention sentences.

She said the centre will sue the judges, PA Childcare and Western PA Childcare for financial compensation for their victims.

"That judges would allow their greed to trump the rights of defendants is just obscene," Ms Levick said.

The judges attempted to hide their income from the scheme by creating false records and routing payments through intermediaries, prosecutors said.

I figure a 1-for-1 swap is about right. One day in the same facility for evey day of the unjust and un-Constitutional sentences. There's only 1200 months in a century. I'm willing to wait...
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Senior Master
Jan 13, 2007
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Upstate New York.
This also sums up the evil of public officials for sale.

There can be few things more despicable and more damaging than a corrupt judge. Throw the book at them, throw the whole library at them. No jail term could be too long.