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U.S. Judges Admit to Jailing Children for Money

Prison

Philadelphia, Pa. – Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan of the Court of Common Pleas in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, plead guilty in open court that they sentenced children to juvenile detention because they were paid off to do it by the PA Childcare and a sister company, Western PA Childcare corporation that ran the private facilities.

Ciavarella wrote in a letter to the court,

“Your statement that I have disgraced my judgeship is true. My actions have destroyed everything I worked to accomplish and I have only myself to blame.”

The two judges face up to seven years in prison under a plea agreement made with the state.

The companies in question paid the two judges more than $2.6 million dollars to send children to detention. The companies receive a stipend from the government for each inmate they house. So as more children were sentenced to the detention center, PA Childcare and Western PA Childcare received more money from the government, prosecutors said.

According to the Juvenile Law Center, a Philadelphia nonprofit group, teenagers were sentenced to detention for simple misdemeanors.

The Constitution guarantees the right to legal representation in U.S. courts. But many of the juveniles appeared before Ciavarella without an attorney because they were told by the probation service that their minor offenses didn’t require one.

Marsha Levick, chief counsel for the Juvenile Law Center, estimated that of approximately 5,000 juveniles who came before Ciavarella from 2003 and 2006, between 1,000 and 2,000 received sentences that far outweighed their crimes. She said the center will be suing the judges and the companies to compensate the victims.

Levick said.

“That judges would allow their greed to trump the rights of defendants is just obscene,”

This nightmare scenario has long been the cry of those trying to end the practice of privatizing prisons in the United States.

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Comments

135 Responses to “U.S. Judges Admit to Jailing Children for Money”

  1. Nannette Durieux

    Probably there's a discount or a bonus for US citizens killed too.

  2. Anonymous

    He got a light sentence because he ruined hundreds of lives for millions of dollars.

    If he had stolen $200 from an unattended cash register, he would've gotten twenty years.

    The system rewards crimes that involve large sums of money.

  3. Gigi Teague

    Just goes to show ya that gov't (our) subsidies and stipends lead to greed and corruption. End 'em!

  4. Jacquelyn Wyer Neubauer

    7 years? They should have to spend at least as much time as all the children they sentenced combined. This is disgusting.

  5. Jacquelyn Wyer Neubauer

    No, it goes to show that privatizing prisons and other functions of the government lead to greed and corruption. They wouldn't have been getting kickbacks if these were state institutions.

  6. Julie Wehmeyer Longstreet

    Please folks, this is inflammatory. I am not saying this was not a horrible thing, but this article is clearly erroneous in many of it's facts. These men did not get seven years — they got 28 and 17 1/2 years. And they were convicted several years ago. This kind of reporting makes "liberals" look as crazy as teabaggers. If this article focused more on the fact that after three years, privatization is still in full swing, that would be one thing — but it's not. It's erroneous and inflammatory. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_for_cash_scandal

  7. Woody NinetyNiner Konopak

    The judgfes are the scum of the earth; indeed, they are the scum off the scum of the earth. Both deserve to DIE in jail, and I would applaud the news.
    But what of the companies involved: PA Childcare and a sister company, Western PA Childcare?
    Are either/both still in operation?
    Why AREN'T the CEO and the BoD of both companies in prison, too?

  8. Woody NinetyNiner Konopak

    The judgfes are the scum of the earth; indeed, they are the scum off the scum of the earth. Both deserve to DIE in jail, and I would applaud the news.
    But what of the companies involved: PA Childcare and a sister company, Western PA Childcare?
    Are either/both still in operation?
    Why AREN'T the CEO and the BoD of both companies in prison, too?

  9. Gary Branson

    This is why giving private companies the ability to make a profit from people going to jail is a bad idea. They will figure out a way to, um, maximize their bottom line.

  10. Adam Rodriguez

    Hey, at least they caught the bastards this time. More importantly, though, we need to put an end to the practice of privatizing prisons and start returning some of the currently private facilities to public hands. There exists a blatant conflict of interest between the citizenry, who expect prison sentences to be handed out only where deemed necessary and of the minimum length needed to ensure protection of the citizenry and punishment/rehabilitation of the criminal, and private facilities who make money off of every new inmate they receive.

    This basically creates a perverse incentive on the part of private security and prison firms to push for artificially strict sentencing standards beyond what is necessary and proper, and to increase both the number and severity of crimes that can land one behind bars as a means of inflating their bottom lines. That is just as scary as outright buying off judges, and yet it remains perfectly legal. As ugly as this is, one could argue that in some ways things like this needed to happen before people at large were willing to examine the ramifications of prison privatization.

  11. Darla Cook

    Wasn't that long ago a article was posted about more states moving to "private" jails but the sentence that disturbed me was that the states had to agree to keeping the facilities "mostly full". That is just wrong! We shouldn't allow the privatization of some areas, and jails are one of them. These judges, and those companies should have to pay those children and their families. Those same people should be jailed. That is what we as a society should be demanding!

  12. Ashley Masters

    Jacquelyn Wyer Neubauer——- Even state ran institutions/programs can receive kickbacks believe me DSS and family court judges , private guardian ad litems are all getting paid off our youth!!

  13. Jacquelyn Wyer Neubauer

    Ashley Masters – I'm not sure exactly what point you are trying to make. Are you saying that state-run detention facilities pay kickbacks to judges or that corporations pay state-run detention facilities to house detainees? Neither of those scenarios makes any sense. State-run facilities aren't going to have any incentive to fill up their cells, and companies wouldn't be providing kickbacks to anyone unless it helped them turn a profit.

  14. Raymond P Beale

    The blame for this far exceeds the two scumbag judges who soldout justice in America. I blame the corporations, lobbyists and ALEC for buying out the lawmakers to privatize the prison systems, schools, military, post office, etc. and creating the enviornment to make this kind of further corruption possible.

  15. Ashley Masters

    Jacquelyn Wyer Neubauer I know two kids that was placed in foster care. the paternal grandmother made a false report. The mother had a public defender and went to court, the lie was thrown out but they still put her on a registry for child neglect due to a child seat belt ticket she got while riding on a church van !! (last summer) The whole reason was dss wanted to be compensated for the time the kids was in their care. The Judge knew this and found a reason to put her on the registry. The fact is parents get pulled over all the time and get child seat belt tickets but the police do not report it to DSS or put them on a child neglect registry. Sorry for the misunderstanding I guess my point was that rather it is jail, dss, judges private or government our kids are in danger!! Her paid court appointed guardian was giving a 11,000 dollar cap per Judges order. Who really gets all that money. I'm sure the guardian took that judge to a nice dinner. While the mother and her kids suffer financially and emotionally!!

  16. Caleb McKean

    I thought that was the basis of our system. Making a profitable industry at the pain and misfortune of our fellow man.

  17. Charlotte Miller

    This is what a fear if we continue to let companies run this country. We wont have any rights left and the rich will make money off our misery. If u vote republican and want "less government" u should know that is what

  18. Dorrell Bennett

    This has been happening all over the country and it goes to show, when you privatize penal institutions, you will see greed and corruption show it's evil face everytime.

  19. Joque Cartier

    Just as a point of perspective, back 100 years ago, people like this would have been dragged to the streets and beheaded……just saying.

  20. Joque Cartier

    Just as a point of perspective, back 100 years ago, people like this would have been dragged to the streets and beheaded……just saying.

  21. Julie Towery

    The sad thing is that they will probably be kept in administrative segregation, protecting their sorry asses from the general population, many of whom frown on this kind of behavior.

  22. John N Swegan

    Now, if the parents of the juvies have any sense, they will find the right lawyer and sue the crap out of these two companies (as well as the judges) for circumventing their rights.

  23. Ashley Masters

    Jacquelyn Wyer Neubauer So what I said made plenty of sense! State ran institutions/ programs do receive kickbacks. I was referring to your comment ( "they wouldn't have been getting kickbacks if they were state institutions") that comment is very untrue!! Maybe you should investigate your own state a little bit more before making that comment.

  24. Jake Purches

    You couldn't make it up. What is the matter with these bastards?

  25. Jacquelyn Wyer Neubauer

    Ashley Masters – No, those judges WOULDN'T have been getting kickbacks from a state-run detention facility, because government facilities are trying to cut their budgets, not pack in more people to feed and drain resources. It's corporate detention facilities who offer judges kickbacks, because they receive payment per prisoner from the government. We are talking about JUDGES receiving kickbacks, not the institutions themselves. What you're referring to is non-sequitur to the article and your sentence structure is kind of difficult to understand, so I decided to let you off the hook and ignore it. But if you want to insist that I'm the one who doesn't know what I'm talking about, then – well, here's your response.

  26. Becca Carlucci

    The corruption begins with these 2 judges but that's not were it ends..it still going on.. with local governments.

  27. Sa Rah Garrido

    And DHS child protective services does the same thing!

  28. John N Swegan

    Here's something even scarier: Look at what the privatized prisons are doing: http://newsone.com/1562805/prison-labor-statistics-wiki/

    I suspect that the reason they're pushing for the Juvie crowd is to build up their slave-force for future use/abuse. Juvie prisons are the training grounds for future career criminals. By the time the kid is an adult, they wind up in the adult prison population, and end up in the slave labor pool.

  29. John N Swegan

    secondary comment here: Notice that the judges have been tried and found guilty. They will now spend the next 7 years incarcerated, although if it's to be a "Club Fed" minimum security prison or a maximum security prison where they will become targets for the hardened criminals there due to their former occupations.

    With that said, why has no one at PA Childcare and Western PA Childcare been charged and incarcerated for bribing officials. After all, "Corporations are people, too!" If corporations are people, too, then the executive officers, including their CFO, should be before the courts, waiting to be sentenced. The judges could not have been able to accept over $2 million dollars in bribes if those at the very highest levels, including the CFO, didn't know where that money was going.

  30. Carl J Hewitt

    I've been saying this shit for years — states like California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas have taken prison privatization to new depths of depravity. There needs to be some legislation curtailing this immoral practice. Since when should someone be allowed to profit from misery (poverty, incarceration)?

  31. Carl J Hewitt

    Jacquelyn Wyer Neubauer State-run anything receives federal dollars. In order to keep getting those federal dollars, the state has to show definite areas of need. And this includes the state's prison system. What Ashley said actually makes plenty of sense when you think about it.

  32. Jon Krueger

    Say what you will about Michael Moore, but he covered this years ago in his documentary "Capitalism: A Love Story."

  33. Ashley Masters

    Jacquelyn Wyer Neubauer Okay you little online gangsta, I have let you belittle me twice!! I have spent time a state run prison. I know what goes on in the prison system. Like I said in my original sentence EVERYBODY receives kickbacks and if they don't receive kickbacks….. they receive votes!! State ran or private, Its a corrupt world baby doll. That was my point!! Never did I put you down for your Mayberry thoughts. You are very pretty, I tried to get an address on that Mary Puppins. Lets just drop it cause I am not the one!!

  34. Carl J Hewitt

    I knew about this several decades ago — it's had to have been going on since at least the 80s in certain states.

  35. Jon Krueger

    I didn't read the article, so please excuse my ignorance/assumption, but my guess is these assholes will not see a shred of justice.

  36. Carl J Hewitt

    I hope they do, though. But this thing is probably so widespread, two convictions won't even make a ripple.

  37. Jacquelyn Wyer Neubauer

    Ashley Masters – Yeah, sorry. I did get snarkier than usual in my last post. (Though you did imply I didn't know what I was talking about, which got me pretty irritated.)

    Nevertheless, I maintain that there's a difference between what you're talking about and what I'm talking about. Even what Carl Hewitt refers to – the idea that a State may inflate its spending to avoid losing money in the next year's budget – is not as damaging as a for-profit company offering kickbacks to individuals. While corruption does exist and should be eradicated from government agencies, the situation described in this article is a direct result of a profit-seeking entity being hired by the State. In the situation Carl describes, maybe someone would get an annual raise by currying favor with their supervisor and keeping the prisons full. That would be wrong and should be stopped, but it's not as bad as cashing in EVERY SINGLE time you put someone away – in a kickback arrangement, the culprit knows exactly how much he is earning with each conviction and probably receives much more frequent gratification.

    The bottom line is that I'm not in favor of the government awarding contracts to private industries to do their job for them. It reduces transparency and creates a middleman who skims money off the top and rips everyone off. Whatever greed and corruption there is in state-run facilities, it's inevitably going to be multiplied when you add profit as a motivating force.

  38. Suzanne Heitzman

    This was one of the saddest chapters in our history.

  39. Tom J. Nelson

    So this is why for profit prisons are a terrible fucking idea, there is always some monster willing to buy people and more than a few willing to sell them.

  40. Tom J. Nelson

    So this is why for profit prisons are a terrible fucking idea, there is always some monster willing to buy people and more than a few willing to sell them.

  41. Tom J. Nelson

    So this is why for profit prisons are a terrible fucking idea, there is always some monster willing to buy people and more than a few willing to sell them.

  42. Andrew Ray Pease

    Oh, I know. Let's privatize the juvenile justice system. What could go wrong. Do you think people would bribe judge or something.

  43. Philip Brzezinski

    Sandy Auriene Sullivan They're the 1%!! It's surprising this case even got to trial!!! This is America, the more money you got, the more you can get away with!!

  44. Stephani Wiecz

    This will continue to happen IF ANY of you VOTE REPUBLICAN and allow them to continue with their plans to ‘PROFITIZE’ government run agencies. These include schools, post offices and of course prisons. They have secondary education on their hit lists as well, that plan is to make them inaccessible to you, so that if you want to go to any college or university you will need to go to a profit university that will get you a loan for their overpriced tuition that will pay for your undervalued education. You graduate owing far too much money to the ‘profitized’ school that is in fact owned by a bank, quite likely the one that gave you the loan. There is ‘no telling’ what they will have these student loans tied to, your house, cars, your organs who knows. However, rest assured they would be predatory.
    The ‘companies’ contracting the ‘profitized’ prisons are demanding contracts with our governments that demand a 90% occupancy rate. That means our cities, counties and states will have to always be looking for new ‘customers’ or prisoners. Less education and a BAD ECONOMY, means more criminals because they cannot support themselves, thus more crime and more arrests. This is simply not the kind of business that anyone demands a minimum occupancy rate or any such thing. That is like demanding that a rehab center have a 90 percent occupancy rate, does that mean come one will be out there creating drug addicts to keep the rehab facilities full? Hmmmm, maybe they are already doing that, maybe the future addicts they have their eyes on are your children or loved ones.

  45. Stephani Wiecz

    Judges are appointed by their peers, republicans appoint those crooked judges that are part of the republicant PROFITIZATION swindle going on. The appointment of said judges is quite likely the most important reason for voting democtatic. If you do not, you increase your chances (or a loved one) of being in one of these PROFITIZED PRISONS.

  46. Stephani Wiecz

    John N Swegan, EXACTLY! but it is also EASIER to swindle us, the citizens into the 'PROFITIZATION' of the kiddie jails than the adult prisons. Call it the GATEWAY swindles, that is what it is all about. Better NOT vote anyway, BUT DEMOCRATIC. All republicants and libertards are crimminals looking for a swindle angle. They do not tell you that their 'SMALLER GOVERNMENT' means MORE government money AND it goes into the pockets of people and places like Haliburtan & Blackwater.

  47. Stephani Wiecz

    ALREADY DONE & figured out. The 'PROFITIZED PRISON' companies DEMAND it in their contracts with the state & govt agencies. Look the articles up on the net or find me on FB, I have the links to the articles where they require 90% occupancy.

  48. Stephani Wiecz

    CCA currently has 48 states considering this BS. 'Correctional Corporation of America

  49. Stephani Wiecz

    You can be sure they WILL NOT ask for spending cuts in this area but increases.

  50. John N Swegan

    Stephani Wiecz I live in Indiana, home of Mr. Privatization himself, Mitch Daniels. His effort to privatize the welfare department was such a fiasco even he couldn't deny it: the company was fired for incompetence and Indiana returned the Welfare department back to state employees. Next, he sold off the Toll road ("Leased" it if one wants to be technical) to a European firm… for 75 years. All these things did what he wanted: broke two state employee unions. Once they'd been broken up, the "Right To Work" bill was pushed for, and signed by him.

    Crooked Republican politicians? I can "see them from my front porch".

  51. Sandy Jones

    This is a horror that is being repeated all across our Nation! This is what privatized prisons cause so take a good look America. Unless you're in the top 1% this is your children's future! We need to stop this NOW!

  52. Jonathan Salfeld

    Also, public prison officials lobby for the same things as their private competitors; longer sentences, additional crimes, and fewer civil liberties. When you frame the issue as public v. private, you are only buying into law enforcement's campaign against privatization. Meanwhile, its the justice system as a whole which has become too pro-prosecution. Judges are almost all former ADAs (about 90%) and cowardly politicians rush to pass more and more draconian criminal laws and justice reforms to appease a disturbingly mobbish public that is always whipped up into a fearful frenzy by the crime spectacles offered up by television media. The press, which depends on law enforcement for "access" to new real-life dramas for an incresingly voyeuristic audience, is generally unwavering in its support of the police state. This occurs everywhere regardless of whether the local prisons are public or private.

  53. Matthew Goeringer

    Ms. Wiecz, the judges were both 'elected', and subsequently retained by election several times. I don't suppose the fact the fact that both were Democrats plays into your "crooked Republican conspiracy"

  54. Kathy Lique

    My grandfather was a judge in that courthouse. It's deeply disturbing both to hear about the bribery but also about private prisons both for young people and for adults. The WRONG way to go!

  55. Jay Davis

    The last time I Googled, at least one was still in business, and still housing juveniles. The worst part is the damage to the kids won't be compensated. Some might get a few bucks, but the damage isn't monetary.

  56. Tami McLean

    We have reached the bottom of the barrel and are still digging down. I want to vomit.

  57. Christina Marshall Sinclair

    A total travesty of the human condition! :(

  58. Aleida Solis

    Why only 7 years , why not the amount of years they sentenced children put together!

  59. Susan MacDonnell

    wow, your conclusion makes frightening and incredibly disturbing sense… this is how the prisons will be kept at 90% occupancy… wherever all of us live, this is a time to get involved in actions to dismantle the privatized prison system and to dismantle the New Jim Crow system which is its racialized counterpart

  60. Victor Wiley

    want to bet 90% of this across America is REPUBLICAN run or backed?

  61. Michael Howard

    republicrat. Demican. They are the same. wake up. Stop being brainwashed.

  62. Kim Baldridge

    This is one of the most unspeakable, detestable and downright evil things I have ever heard a judge would even entertain. Judges make enough money, have enough status and responsibility that you shouldn't even think of worrying about the black heartedness it would take to do something like this at a time when your already worried to death about your child anyway. All I can say is WHAT COMES AROUND, GOES AROUND! I would say my prayers day and night if I was this bunch.

  63. Teresa Howick

    Shame on every single American, who by endorcement or silence or apathy, has allowed privatization of prisons, where huge profits are to be made there is always, always corruption, wake up to yourselves.

  64. Dam Spahn

    And the corporate criminals who conspired to kidnap and enslave children, what will they receive, a fine? A reduction in their bonus? I only hope our mushy media decides that kidnapping and enslaving children is more newsworthy than Republican outrage over gay marriage and abortion. Otherwise, the masterminds of this child abuse ring will keep on doing what they do.

  65. Robert Schiele

    It doesn't get much more despicable than this, and those two former judges should have received far, far more punishment for what they've done.

  66. Michael Scott Schindler

    No they aren't. Wake up and cite your charges or we shall ignore your ignorant rants. The system is the same, the people are and issues they fight for are not.

  67. Gregory Fleming

    The parties differ slightly in philosophy but are otherwise more similar than they should be. Neither side has a monopoly on corruption.

  68. Lynn M. Duchez Bycko

    Jonathan… both judges may have been democrats, however it has been and continues to be the Republican/Libertarian agenda to privatize schools, prisons, and other institutions historically run by state governments. 'Cause there's $$$ to be made. Besides, many Penna democrats really should be Republicans ("Republicrats" as my aunt would say) according to their political alignments and platforms. I know… I'm an Ohio and Penna person.

  69. Lynn M. Duchez Bycko

    Jonathan… both judges may have been democrats, however it has been and continues to be the Republican/Libertarian agenda to privatize schools, prisons, and other institutions historically run by state governments. 'Cause there's $$$ to be made. Besides, many Penna democrats really should be Republicans ("Republicrats" as my aunt would say) according to their political alignments and platforms. I know… I'm an Ohio and Penna person.

  70. Lynn M. Duchez Bycko

    Jonathan… both judges may have been democrats, however it has been and continues to be the Republican/Libertarian agenda to privatize schools, prisons, and other institutions historically run by state governments. 'Cause there's $$$ to be made. Besides, many Penna democrats really should be Republicans ("Republicrats" as my aunt would say) according to their political alignments and platforms. I know… I'm an Ohio and Penna person.

  71. Lynn M. Duchez Bycko

    Jonathan… both judges may have been democrats, however it has been and continues to be the Republican/Libertarian agenda to privatize schools, prisons, and other institutions historically run by state governments. 'Cause there's $$$ to be made. Besides, many Penna democrats really should be Republicans ("Republicrats" as my aunt would say) according to their political alignments and platforms. I know… I'm an Ohio and Penna person.

  72. Lynn M. Duchez Bycko

    Jonathan… both judges may have been democrats, however it has been and continues to be the Republican/Libertarian agenda to privatize schools, prisons, and other institutions historically run by state governments. 'Cause there's $$$ to be made. Besides, many Penna democrats really should be Republicans ("Republicrats" as my aunt would say) according to their political alignments and platforms. I know… I'm an Ohio and Penna person.

  73. Lynn M. Duchez Bycko

    Jonathan… both judges may have been democrats, however it has been and continues to be the Republican/Libertarian agenda to privatize schools, prisons, and other institutions historically run by state governments. 'Cause there's $$$ to be made. Besides, many Penna democrats really should be Republicans ("Republicrats" as my aunt would say) according to their political alignments and platforms. I know… I'm an Ohio and Penna person.

  74. Philip Raines

    Do the judges pay the cops a bounty for bringing them in too?