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)
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Comments

Roy Leventhal 2 months 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 9 months 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 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year 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?
Freddie Holeyfield 1 year ago
This is why sometimes capitalism doesn't work because of peo. like the judge and the system for which he worked. The juvenile detention system that participated in the scheme should be closed. Some privatized companies esp. prisons do not have the best interest of the population in mind, because their main purpose for being in business is for profit.
BC 1 year ago
This article is missing the "Why" - is it to fill prison cells? To get money from grants based on prisoner counts? I can make guesses but the article never comes out and says why.
Arachnae 1 year ago
@Raven, any time spent in a correctional facility by a young person can either make or break who they will become the rest of their life. The worst place for education.
DoTheMaths 1 year ago
12.2 million / 1,600 victims = $7,600 each. USA! USA! USA! Justice for ALL!
Pearl 1 year ago
This is just horrible.I really think they need to investigate more states that could possibly doing the same thing.Especially Canton,Ohio.The judges feel like they have all power in their hands and I've seen how they sentence certain people differently with excessive long years that does'nt fit the crime in no way!

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