August 11, 2011
A former juvenile court judge in Luzerne County, Pa., who accepted nearly $1 million to send juveniles to for-profit detention centers has been sentenced to 28 years in prison. The court also ordered the former judge, Mark Ciavarella Jr., to pay $1.17 million in restitution.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
In what became known as the “kids for cash” scandal, Ciavarella and another former judge, Michael Conahan, received payments from the owner and builder of two privately-run juvenile detention facilities to close down the county’s own juvenile detention center and direct juvenile offenders to the private facilities, the Christian Science Monitor reports.
An investigation found that thousands of juveniles were shipped to the private centers on minor or questionable charges, the Associated Press reports. Half of the children who appeared before Ciavarella were not represented by a lawyer and were never advised of their right to counsel. Of those unrepresented children, up to 60 percent were ordered by Ciavarella to serve time at a detention facility. The more children they housed, the more profit the centers made.
In 2009, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court directed that all adjudications involving the roughly 4,000 children who appeared before Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008 be vacated and their records expunged.