Former Judge Took $1 Million In Bribes From Builder Of Private, For-Profit Juvenile Detention Centers
Should anyone really be surprised when a private, for-profit correctional system results in abuses like this?
A long-serving judge in Pennsylvania has been ordered to spend 28 years in prison for his role in a bribery scandal that resulted in thousands of juvenile convictions — many of them for marijuana — being overturned by the state supreme court.
Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr., 61, was sentenced on Thursday for taking $1 million in bribes from the builder of two juvenile detention centers in a case that became known as “kids for cash,” reports the Associated Press
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned about 4,000 convictions issued by Judge Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, ruling that he violated the rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea.
Ciaverella’s trial earlier this year ended in a conviction on racketeering charges. His lawyers had asked for a “reasonable” sentence in court papers, claiming he had already been punished enough.
“The media attention to this matter has exceeded coverage given to many and almost all capital murders, and despite protestation, he will forever be unjustly branded as the ‘kids for cash’ judge,’ ” they whined.
Federal prosecutors said Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, took more than $2 million in bribes from the builder of the Pennsylvania Child Care and Western Pennsylvania Child Care detention centers and extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facilities’ co-owner.
“Ciaverella was known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom demeanor,” AP writes, but I can translate that a little more clearly for you. The man was a god-damned douche bag.
The judge filled the beds of private, for-profit correctional centers with children as young as 10, many of them first-time offenders convicted of petty theft, marijuana possession and other crimes.
The asshole judge remained defiant even after his arrest, insisting the payments were legal and denying he incarcerated children for money.
The jury returned a mixed verdict last February, convicting him on 12 counts, including racketeering and conspiracy, and acquitting him on 27 others, including extortion. The guilty verdicts resulted from a payment of $997,600 from the builder of the detention centers on Judge Ciavarella.
And now we have 4,000 youths scarred for life by this son of a bitch. You can never undo what getting sent away to places like this does to kids.
Former Judge Conahan pleaded guilty last year and is still awaiting sentencing.