Judge Sentenced to 28 Years in Prison for “Selling” Kids to Private Prisons

Sunday, August 14, 2011
Mark Ciavarella Jr. (AP Photo)

Update: Many people reading this article have asked what happened to the other people involved in this case. Judge Michael T. Conahan is currently serving a 17½- year sentence at the Federal Correctional Complex, Coleman in Sumter County Florida. Robert J. Powell, co-owner of the two juvenile detention centers, pleaded guilty to paying kickbacks to Ciavarella and Conahan and served 18 months in prison before being released on April 16, 2013. Robert K. Mericle, the wealthy builder and co-owner of two private detention centers, has not yet been sentenced, but in November 2012, he agreed to a cash settlement that would distribute $12.2 million to 1,066 of the juveniles who were incarcerated and 548 of their parents.

Accused of perpetrating a “profound evil,” former Pennsylvania judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for illegally accepting money from a juvenile-prison developer while he spent years incarcerating thousands of young people.
Prosecutors said Ciavarella sent juveniles to jail as part of a “kids for cash” scheme involving Robert Mericle, builder of the PA and Western PA Child Care juvenile detention centers. The ex-judge was convicted in February of 12 counts that included racketeering, money laundering, mail fraud and tax evasion.
In addition to his prison sentence, Ciavarella was ordered to pay nearly $1.2 million in restitution.
At his sentencing, Ciavarella acknowledged his illegal acceptance of money from Mericle. But he denied ever jailing a juvenile in exchange for money.
Once the case against Ciavarella surfaced, special investigative panels began reviewing cases he handled from 2003 to 2008. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that he denied about 5,000 juveniles, some as young as ten, their constitutional rights, leading to the vacating of their convictions.
Among the young people exploited by Ciavarella were 15-year-old Hillary Transue, who was sentenced to three months at a juvenile detention center for mocking an assistant principal on a MySpace page; and 13-year-old Shane Bly, who was sent to a boot camp for two weekends after being accused of trespassing in a vacant building.
Another judge, Michael T. Conahan, used his position to shut down the county-run juvenile detention center and redirect juvenile detainees to the private prisons. He pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
28 YEARS (by Terrie Morgan-Besecker, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader)
Ex-Judge Ciavarella Angry, Defiant at Sentencing (by Dave Janoski, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice)
See all 98 comments


a 7 years ago
LOL 12.2 million to be paid out to 1614 people lol that equates to 7500 dollars not including the 40 percent attorneys will take from this lol. OMG people are so stupid all the time. This payout is for peasants.
kingback 8 years ago
Correction to this story, not kids. .....BLACK KIDS! These JUDGES come a DIME a Dozen. Do your own research. Or just Google
barbara 8 years ago
Sara 8 years ago
Frank the Tank 9 years ago
Everyone needs to stop referring Michael T. Conahan with a Judge surname. He is a convicted criminal and the press needs to remove that title from every publication including this one. The people won, may those affected by this Christian-based monster have their vengeance sated.
Roy Leventhal 9 years ago
Just read: Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, Anchor Books 2008, ISBN: 978-0-385-72270-4. Same system of corruption and hate.
phelix 10 years ago
This is nothing new. All the judges are doing this in the state of Idaho with the private CCA prison. So are the members of the parole board not letting people out either. You should look into that story!
tm 10 years ago
They play god and we believe they are god and god sentence you, but is it your god? there are so many gods being used out there. basically forget the constitution, constitution will enslave us all because through the years this con-stitution was modified and is not what we all think it is. he who forgets the law of their god will be forgotten also and so will their children be forgotten. how hard is this. the way is to go back to the law of our real god. http://www.freedom-school.com/ this country has no courts, no judge, no government. it is all fiction, dimensional by mere contracts of all kinds. no actions supervised and we are all for sale, children or adult, all ages; when it comes to these courts of felony fraud.
carmen wilson 10 years ago
I was incarcerated at the age of 15 for playing hookey from school.I only took 3 lunch periods. I was sent to Morganza State School for girls from there I was sent to a womens prison in Muncy, Pa.I didn't see my family or friends for five years. I was sent away by a man called Judge Schramm. He senteveryone away who came before him. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pa. Maybe he took money to put kids like me away.
SHELTIEMOM 10 years ago
I agree with peral. more states should be investigated as there are criminals every where to make a buck. they should especially investigate Arizona because things just go to quick. In my case the judge didn't want to hear what I had to say or what my attorney had to say. He was completely bias, completely and when I look back at the Judges cases they all if not if most of all the cases it was the same Judge and same Proscuter attorney. what does that tell you all?

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