Prosecutors in Allentown are accepting pleas in one of the most disturbing cases of alleged judicial corruption in years. Two Pennsylvania judges was accepted generous plea bargains after taking more than $2 million in kickbacks to send youth offenders to privately run detention centers. The allegations suggest these judges intentionally sent kids to jail to gain personally. The charges named Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan and 14 other defendant.
The indictment alleged that Ciavarella and Conahan took in $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and another company.
Given the allegations, the judges got a sweet deal of no more than seven years in prison. Thousands of offenders may have been affected by the corruption, including many whose lives were ruined unnecessarily. I find a maximum of seven years to be an insult to both these families and the court system as a whole.
One such kid, Bernadine Wallace was 14 years old when she was pressure to plead guilty to terroristic threats in the course of an argument on MySpace. It was a ridiculous case but Ciavarella sent her to a youth wilderness camp.
Another teen was incarcerated for attacking an assistant principal on her MySpace page.
Obviously, these sentences were not just the result of corrupt judges but prosecutors who pushed for incarceration in these cases. This may help explain the insulting plea given these judges.
There have been a series of recent cases of what appears light treatment of judges who cross the criminal line, here and here. The plea is particularly light given the public outrage expressed by Ciavarella.
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