February 12, 2009

PA: juvenile injustice, judicial avarice

The juvenile reformers and public defenders have been talking about this, and now it's made the New York Times:

Judges Plead Guilty in Payoffs for Jailing Youths

(O)n Thursday... (J)udge, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and a colleague, Michael T. Conahan, appeared in federal court in Scranton, Pa., to plead guilty to wire fraud and income tax fraud for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers... While prosecutors say that Judge Conahan, 56, secured contracts for the two centers to house juvenile offenders, Judge Ciavarella, 58, was the one who carried out the sentencing to keep the centers filled.

“In my entire career, I’ve never heard of anything remotely approaching this,” said Senior Judge Arthur E. Grim, who was appointed by the State Supreme Court this week to determine what should be done with the estimated 5,000 juveniles who have been sentenced by Judge Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2003.

Many of them were first-time offenders and some remain in detention. The case has shocked Luzerne County... And it raised concerns about whether juveniles should be required to have counsel either before or during their appearances in court and whether juvenile courts should be open to the public or child advocates...

1 Comment:

ferry county lawyer said...

Nothing has shocked me about our criminal justice system in my 14 years of practice as much as the actions of this judge. This guy deserved a much harsher sentence, and kudos to those who are bringing this crime to the public's attention.