Luzerne County Travesty
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on June 16th, 2009
What a racket.
Private companies come in to operate two juvenile detention facilities in Luzerne County and Butler County. Then two Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas judges allegedly accept kickbacks from the juvenile detention facilities to send juveniles for lengthy, profitable stays, regardless of the facts of the legal cases against the kids.
It’s like a bad made-for-TV movie script.
But the worst part of it is, that’s exactly what federal prosecutors say actually happened. The Pennsylvania Federal District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has since ordered that a special master be appointed to get to the bottom of the sordid mess and make recommendations to resolve the injustices that have occurred.
The two judges, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan pleaded guilty in February to charges of corruption and tax fraud, according to a story in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The two are going to spend the next seven years in jail, but now the legal wheels are rolling to figure out the status of the kids who got enmeshed in the judges’ scheme.
This is so outrageous, so incomprehensible, that it boggles the mind.
The juveniles involved were taken in to a system that was tilted against them from the start, no matter what the “facts” were in each of their cases.
There must be a higher accounting, a higher responsibility for judges in our court system.
So now, what’s needed?
These children, and their families, who have been illegally detained by these corrupt, evil judges, must be compensated for their grave losses. They lost their freedom. They were taken away and locked up under bogus punishments. Their rights were violated by the very judges who were supposed to protect them.
Money damages resulting from successful lawsuits can’t give them back that lost time in juvenile detention, but it is the only way these children and their families can be compensated for some of the pain and suffering they have endured. This must never happen again, and justice must be served for every child who was unfairly and illegally victimized by these former judges. Someone must be held accountable. It is our responsibility to these kids.