Skip to comments.Pa. judges accused of jailing kids for cash
Posted on 02/11/2009 2:54:05 PM PST by mgstarr
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. For years, the juvenile court system in Wilkes-Barre operated like a conveyor belt: Youngsters were brought before judges without a lawyer, given hearings that lasted only a minute or two, and then sent off to juvenile prison for months for minor offenses.
The explanation, prosecutors say, was corruption on the bench.
In one of the most shocking cases of courtroom graft on record, two Pennsylvania judges have been charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.
"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.
No company officials have been charged, but the investigation is still going on.
The high court, meanwhile, is looking into whether hundreds or even thousands of sentences should be overturned and the juveniles' records expunged.
Among the offenders were teenagers who were locked up for months for stealing loose change from cars, writing a prank note and possessing drug paraphernalia. Many had never been in trouble before. Some were imprisoned even after probation officers recommended against it.
Many appeared without lawyers, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1967 ruling that children have a constitutional right to counsel.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
So much utter corruption at all levels in this country.
These “judges” should be beaten to death.
Our Nation is toast, unless “We the People” take back our governmental institutions from the best criminals that money can buy.
The inmates run the asylum.
These kids will sue and the tax payers will foot the bill.
A judge is just a lawyer that is angling for a quicker way to make an illegal buck or to self-enact his own political ideology. Either way, the legal system is largely corrupt.
“Name that Party”
I had to search 10 articles to find their obvious poltical party.
We are well on track to 3rd world status with this type of corruption.
It needs to be made an example of when found. Sadly, that is not the case.
Corrupt judges, eh.
I’ll bet a corrupt judge is *very* popular in prison.
Forget “your honor” — get used to answering to “prison b!tch”.
These “judges” should go penniless to the Big House. General population.
Yes these judges should be executed....taking bribes from private run prisons...getting government money to break the law....
...and police officers don’t have ticket quotas...and traffic court magistrates don’t take the budget into consideration...
Judge Smails: I've sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn't want to do it. I felt I owed it to them.
Well 25 years is more than 7 and 25 years sounds like too light a sentence.
Were these kids Amish?
Were these kids Amish?
This county is so corrupt, the Federal DOJ has a website for this: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/pam/Victim_Witness/Luzerne_county_corruption.html
The judicial system in the country is broken from the Federal to local county levels
Locally, it is designed to put people into a system to extract money and fess to keep the parole officers and public defenders office from being a financial drain on the counties.
Petty and very minor crimes are given parole, community service hours and monthly fees to pay
Anybody who thinks a pubic defender wants you to be free of the judicial system by actually trying your cases is delusional. It's plea down your case, adjudication (which is you are responsible to pay for, later) parole with the accompanying fess and hoops you jump though.
I truly fear for this country because we have lost all sense of judicial restraint for the common man, except for terrorist and politicians who seem to get a pass even for the most obvious crimes
Apparently the whole justice system is corrupt, take the case of H. Beatty Chadwick, now incarcerated in his 14th year behind bars on a CIVIL contempt charge. The masters in Black Robes think they are gods.
They should make one for the whole state of PA. Clink goes the prison door.
>Our Nation is toast, unless We the People take back our governmental institutions from the best criminals that money can buy.
Agreed, and the way things are looking it ain’t going to be a tea party that gets the Federales attention... more like an ammo party.
I’m a judge and I’m sickened by this. Please don’t paint us all with the same brush. I actually care about the youth who come before me.
>Yes these judges should be executed....taking bribes from private run prisons...getting government money to break the law....
Ah, yes. But we all know that even our votes don’t matter, as is the case with all those “recounts”...
Ciavarella is the top pic and Conahan the bottom pic.
Keep an eye on this story. I predict that there will be MUCH more corruption outed in Luzerne County. And after that, there’s plenty to go after in the county directly north of there, Lackawanna County (hometown county of Joe Biden).
What, there’s some nasty old lady in the neighborhood who pays the judges to send kids to jail?
I guess the only real silver lining in this tragedy is a whole generation of youth are now conservative after knowing first hand the corruption of a democrat held state
To be honest, I don’t trust elected officials in general regardless of party, though I distrust (D)’s more.
Your Honor, care to comment on post #19
My apologies. My opinion is tainted by personal experience and what is happening, by and large, to our laws, their original meaning and intent, and the balance of publicity that is prevalent. Of course, not all of the legal profession is corrupt, but you must admit that your colleagues are not doing a ‘bang-up’ job of weeding out the bad apples.
Care to comment on how a guy involved in a divorce proceeding can end up spending 14+ years in jail on a civil contempt charge??? (See the case of H. Beatty Chadwick) No habeus corpus, every appeal denied by higher courts??? Smacks of monarchs and despots to me.
It is in every county in PA and it’s not just kids that get railroaded either.
“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking laws.”
— Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”
One teen girl was imprisoned for making a myspace page that lampooned her school's principal so I don't think they were all hardened thugs. Of course, some of them were undoubtedly hardened after they got out.
I guess there’s no First Amendment anymore.
In NY state, it’s called a surcharge.
They soak you for money and let you go so the process can repeat.
But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.
THE LAW By Fredric Bastiat (1801 to 1850)
Ciavarella overdosed on orange-man tanning lotion.
“Im a judge and Im sickened by this. Please dont paint us all with the same brush. I actually care about the youth who come before me.”
My experience, when my son ran afoul once, was pretty positive. I think one of the things I would like to see changed is to remove every temptation from the justice system by taking the collection of fines and fees away and turning it into the general fund. Ohio had to do that in several cases in which small towns existed only due to the police force and judge. (The town only had twelve residents not part of the government).
This wasn’t about fines and fees, it was about huge kickbacks for incarceration in privately run youth facilities.
“Ill bet a corrupt judge is *very* popular in prison.”
Not only will he NOT go to prison he will probably get his full pension w/benefits. After all this is PA we are talking about.
Did you run across any information about what youth homes they were put in (other than Juvenille prisons)? What to see if there are any links with those.
Wow. Thanks, I just looked that up.
“Please dont paint us all with the same brush. I actually care about the youth who come before me.”
Sorry. So did those two judges to the tune of what they could make off each child they sentenced.
Various judges I’ve stood before (I’m not a criminal - just property stuff, victim stuff, petty juvenile stuff (traffic tickets)) have all struck me as refreshingly decent.
How could these judges have been so cruel?
The Feds are handling this. He will go to prison and then some.
The Feds are corrupt, vindictive and agenda driven.
But they also get it right sometimes.
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