Luzerne County’s “Justice” Runs Amok: A Follow-Up

In February, the ex-judge, from Luzerne County, Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr., 61, was found guilty on twelve counts of racketeering, conspiracy, fraud and filing false tax returns in connection with his part in the “Cash for Kids” scheme that shocked Pennsylvania’s legal community.   On August 11th he was sentenced to 28 years in Federal Prison for his part in that scandal.

Ciavarella, served as the head of the juvenile court system in Luzerne County and according to prosecutors, he along with fellow Luzerne County ex-judge, Michael T. Conahan, 59, abused their judicial power and unjustly sent hundreds of young people to for-profit juvenile detention centers built by developer Robert Powell and builder Robert Mericle.  Prosecutors claim that the two judges enriched themselves by as much as 2.8 million dollar in this ploy.

Many child advocates were concerned that the two judges would receive better treatment in the federal prison they are assigned to than the children whom they sentenced.  At his sentencing, prosecutors told the sentencing judge that Ciavarella had sold kids wholesale and deserved to be sentenced “for the rest of his natural life.”  Should Ciavarell serve his entire sentence, he will be 82 years old when he is released.  Justice?
— J. Ken Butera

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