Believe it or not, two judges in the Pennsylvania justice system have been taking kickbacks… profiting… from putting kids in jail.
According to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now:
As many as 5,000 children in Pennsylvania have been found guilty, and up to 2,000 of them jailed, by two corrupt judges who received kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities that benefited. The two judges pleaded guilty in a stunning case of greed and corruption that is still unfolding. Judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan received $2.6 million in kickbacks while imprisoning children who often had no access to a lawyer. The case offers an extraordinary glimpse into the shameful private prison industry that is flourishing in the United States.
Those are two names to remember… Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr. and Judge Michael T. Conahan. When the justice system can be bought and sold by the judiciary, it is time for America to wake up.
We know that Lady Justice is far from blind. She has focused on color and social status for years and years. However, when two judges from Pennsylvania slip beyond the boundaries of adults and begin jailing children for profit, it is time for someone… or the government… to step in.
Apparently, the prosecutors and probation officers held no sway with either judge.
As Bob Schwartz of the Juvenile Law Center told me: “Hillary had, unknown to her, signed a paper, her mother had signed a paper, giving up her right to a lawyer. That made the 90-second hearing that she had in front of Judge Ciavarella pretty much of a kangaroo court.” The JLC found that in half of the juvenile cases in Luzerne County, defendants had waived their right to an attorney. Judge Ciavarella repeatedly ignored recommendations for leniency from both prosecutors and probation officers. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard the JLC’s case, then the FBI began an investigation, which resulted in the two judges entering guilty-plea agreements last week for tax evasion and wire fraud.
At best, each judge is expected to serve no more than seven years in one of those plush white color prisoners. Seven years is not enough. These judges have changed the lives of these children forever. There is no undoing what has been done. However, as a member of the judiciary, these two judges should be held to a higher standard. Tax evasion and wire fraud are not the real crimes in these cases. The dimished values of young lives is priceless. Perhaps, Congress should consider a law that protects our children from those who are there to help them and imposes greater sentencing guidelines for those who take advantage of our nation’s future.