Trial Begins for PA Juvie Judge in Kickback Scheme

Remember the Pennsylvania juvenile court judges who were charged with taking $2.6 million in kickbacks from private juvenile jails to sentence kids to serve time, even for trivial offenses? Two judges pleaded guilty to the "Cash for Kids" scheme, with plea agreements calling for 87 months. The federal judge rejected the plea agreements and new Indictments with a slew of more charges were filed.

One of the two judges pleaded guilty again, but the other, Mark Ciavarella, went on trial yesterday, in federal court. Opening arguments and testimony began today. [More...]

Pennsylvania later vacated hundreds of the convictions. By the time all was said and done, more than 6,000 convictions had been vacated:

The state has since expunged more than 6,000 records of youths Mr. Ciavarella sentenced, some for crimes as small as stealing a jar of nutmeg.

Ciavarella faces up to life in prison if convicted.

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    This whole case is (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Chuck0 on Wed Feb 09, 2011 at 12:07:51 PM EST
    good reason for the elimination of private prisons. Incarceration should not be a "free market" concept for profiteers. There's enough bad sentencing going around without adding a profit margin for locking more people.

    Moral equivalent of kidnapping? (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Babel 17 on Wed Feb 09, 2011 at 02:45:11 PM EST
    I have to wonder if any of the kids suffered injuries while imprisoned.

    But regardless, they were clearly at risk of that and I do equate the action of the judges as being akin to kidnapping. Money was received by the perpetrators because they scooped kids up.

    Given that we are talking about government officials who swore an oath of office I think that being sentenced as would a serial kidnapper is appropriate.

    Granted, with kidnapping there's the element of implied harm or murder if demands aren't met so I admit to some hyperbole.

    Dead on Equivalent... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 09, 2011 at 02:49:38 PM EST
    to kidnapping...every wrongful arrest and/or imprisonment is.  Only the kidnapper uses authority and force instead of simple force.

    LIfe in prison: not long enough. (1.00 / 1) (#1)
    by oculus on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 09:49:18 PM EST

    Let's wait for the evidence (none / 0) (#2)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 10:03:48 PM EST
    and the verdict.  Ok?

    Sure. Just reacting to the sentencing (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 10:04:54 PM EST

    I realize your comment was actually (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Peter G on Wed Feb 09, 2011 at 01:04:12 PM EST
    a metaphor for how awful the accusations are, if true.  My friends at the Juvenile Law Center of Philadelphia deserve enormous credit for bringing this scandal to light, and anyone wishes to express their feelings of horror at the situation in a tangible form might consider making a contribution to the JLC.  As a literal matter, however, the penalty of life imprisonment without parole (as a federal sentence would be) is rarely if ever justifiable on moral or criminological grounds, particularly focusing on proportionality, and certainly not in a case of this kind, no matter how depraved the conduct underlying these charges.

    Hard to argue with ya... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 09, 2011 at 09:07:34 AM EST
    on this one...as heinous as it gets, the whole sordid affair.