Revelations in the current federal racketeering trial regarding the actions of the two “Kids for Cash” judges—former Luzerne County PA Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan—are showing that these two scumbags were the originators of a plan to fill up two private juvenile prisons with thousands of kids who did not need to be incarcerated, and extorted up to $3 million in kickbacks from the owner and the builder of the two youth facilities.
Prosecutors say the judges shut down the dilapidated county-run juvenile detention center in 2002, made various rulings that paved the way for construction of two new private youth facilities, and then worked to ensure admissions remained high so that the owners of the facilities could pay them the kickbacks they demanded. Ciavarella, who presided over juvenile court, stocked the private jail with young offenders whose crimes were often minor. Many of the kids had never been in trouble before, and some were locked up even after probation officers recommended against it.
One 10-year-old child was sent to lock-up for 2½ weeks for accidentally setting trash on fire while playing with a lighter.
A 13-year-old boy was detained for almost two months for throwing a piece of steak at his mother’s boyfriend at a meal.
Another 13-year-old boy went to jail for three months for pushing his mother during an argument about homework.
A 15-year-old girl was sent to a detention center for making a MySpace page where she talked about her school principal.
The Pennsylvania state Supreme Court has thrown out thousands of juvenile convictions issued by Ciavarella, saying he disregarded the constitutional rights of the defendants. Ciavarella has denied any link between the payments he received and the youths he sent to the facility, but testimony in his trial is showing otherwise.
Last week attorney Robert Powell, who co-owned the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care centers with Robert Mericle, the contractor who built the facilities, provided damaging testimony over four days of testimony.
Last year former judge Michael Conahan pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy and awaits sentencing. Ciavarella is on trial for a 39-count indictment that charges him with racketeering, honest services fraud, money laundering, bribery, extortion, wire fraud and tax evasion.
What would be appropriate punishment for these evil men who put their personal enrichment above the welfare of children? I’d love to see them both end up in a hell-hole prison where they will suffer the same abuses some of the kids they wrongfully sentenced undoubtedly suffered.
In their cases, being raped and beaten by guards and inmates would be poetic justice.
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