Pennsylvania Judge Sentenced To 28 Years For Selling 4,000 Kids As Young As 10 Years Old To Prison System For $1.2 million

September 3, 2013

Pennsylvania judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. has been sentenced to almost three decades in jail after conspiring with private prisons to trade kids for cash.

Mark Ciavarella Jr.

Mark Ciavarella Jr.

by Emily Smith
May 22, 2013

In the private prison industry, longer sentences earn more money from the state.

Since 2003, Ciavarella received millions of dollars in bribes for condemning minors to maximum prison sentences. In one case, Ciavarella sentenced a 10-year-old to two years in a detention facility for accidentally bottoming out his mother’s car.

According to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, over 5,000 young men and women were unjustly sentenced to prison and denied their constitutional rights. Many of them have now been released and cleared of their charges.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has overturned some 4,000 convictions issued by him between 2003 and 2008, claiming he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles – including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea. Some of the juveniles he sentenced were as young as 10-years old.

Ciavarella was convicted of 12 counts, including racketeering, money laundering, mail fraud and tax evasion. He was also ordered to repay $1.2 million in restitution.

His “kids for cash” program has revealed that corruption is indeed within the prison system, mostly driven by the growth in private prisons seeking profits by any means necessary.

Ciavarella, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom manner, was convicted of racketeering, money laundering, mail fraud, and tax evasion. He was ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution.

“Unfortunately, two judges in Luzerne County have caused unimaginable taint to the laudable efforts of many dedicated individuals,” Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille said, “conduct for which those two judges presently are paying dearly,”

Ciaveralla’s attorneys requested a reasonable sentencing, arguing that the media attention brought to the case was punishment enough: “He will forever be unjustly branded as the `Kids for Cash’ judge.”

Pennsylvania judge Michael Conahan was accused as a co-conspirator, but pleaded guilty on the charge. Since 2003, he collected more than $2 million from PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers.

29 Responses to Pennsylvania Judge Sentenced To 28 Years For Selling 4,000 Kids As Young As 10 Years Old To Prison System For $1.2 million

  1. Chris Harris on September 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    There was an episode of Law and Order SVU with the same story line. Its crazy how what we see on TV as fiction is really turning out as nonfiction in our society. There is a saying that states “if you think you have seen it all then live another day”. Everyday I see something crazier than the day before.

  2. Darealiss1 on September 3, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    But people still don’t believe this is happening!

  3. farouq ali on September 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    A system that exposes judges to such enticements surely ensnared more than this one judge in corrupt practices! The poor and minority population has suffered enough from this pogrom. Throw the bum in prison and lose the key!
    What’s more, resolve the inducements for judges to sell justice to the highest bidder.

  4. Jacqueline Duncan on September 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I’m glad justice took off her blindfold, looked at the children’s cases and how badly this judge’s behavior and attitude on the bench was found corrupt and sentence him. So glad they made him pay but it isn’t enough. Think about the labels he placed on the kids and their families, social services doing case work, the money those families Put out going to see their children and the psychology damage done to their children’s minds. That 1.5 million isn’t enough and they need to revoke those prisons license and arrested the administrators that were involved and make them pay that money back to the states and the children families

  5. Jacqueline Duncan on September 3, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Whoever did the investigation on them need to come to Detroit Michigan and do an investigation on Synder, Orr, Duggan, Bing and the rest of the political people involved in the bankruptcy of Detroit

  6. Peter D. Slaughter on September 3, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Overall not surprised and this has been going for quite some time.
    It seems when you try to tell some black people that updated slavery,genocide and eugenics is in full effect for right now in the 21st century they seem to not want to hear or even believe it.
    In this case this is a prime example.
    Only thing this guy was needed to be wearing instead of judge robe was kkk sheet and kkk cone on his head while giving all these kids this fake prison time.
    Now it will be black people who live in the communities with these kids who will have to deal with them and the long term effects of being lock up unjustly because of racism and updated oppression.

  7. Otim on September 3, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    For the love of money the root of all evil. This ‘administrative hearing officer’s conduct is just one of the many examples of how commercial everything related to “justice” has become. It is all about commerce and the bond market at the expense of the ignorant mass.He is the “sacrificial lamb” for the rest of them. Go to Dunn & Bradstreet enter the court name, judges name, name of the state, jails,etc., and see they are all corporations! Who are the ‘private individuals that own them? Follow the money!

  8. Kimberly T. Hollinger on September 4, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Infuriating! Three decades does not seem like long enough. His sentence should have been the equivalent of years he wrongfully sentenced those children to. They say prison changes folks. Their lives will surely be impacted for at least that long. How could anyone be so disgustingly greedy to trade the lives of our future for a dollar bill? Oh, that’s right…he probably empowered himself with privileges similar to slave masters of the past. Shame on him. May the people of PA wake up to the injustices surrounding us! Protect our children from the powers that need not be.

  9. Kimberly T. Hollinger on September 4, 2013 at 12:54 am

    p.s. I know defense attorneys are supposed to defend their clients despite their guilt/ repulsiveness. But, to pity the judge who was paid to interrupt the lives of 4,000 young people is offensive. He should, in fact, be known as the ‘kids for Cash’ judge. He was. Thankfully, he nor his co-conspirator will no longer “judge” who should be incarcerated or not. What about the owners/ stakeholders of those privately-owned prisons. Will they lose licenses/ authority to own/ imprison anyone anywhere, ever? Or, will they just continue to reap benefits?

  10. Kimberly T. Hollinger on September 4, 2013 at 1:02 am

    As the mother of 2 males, one teenager, this article is quite disturbing. Our young people are constantly bombarded with messages of youth as troubling, bothersome members of society. What must they think of our adult public figures who too often let them down/ trade their well-being for financial/ personal gain?

  11. Dr. Gale Frazier on September 4, 2013 at 2:18 am

    Words can never express the depths of depravity and wickedness as exhibited by this judge. It is only by the grace of God that he actally was caught, prosecuted, and convicted. But, the real queston is; what about the countless others who are still railroading our children into the prison industrial complex to feed their greed and lust? It is totally unconscionable and reprehensible for one in a position of authority to use his position to unjustly imprison our young simply because one has the power to do so. This has become commonplace in America and it is time for all of the “good people” to contend with the escalation of evil and violence perpetrated against our children. We must not remain silent; but rather, we must cry aloud and spare not. OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT EXPENDABLE– and we must do whatever it takes to make sure that others know this!

  12. Lavunda Anderson on September 4, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    The saddest part is we parents, a large percent of us truly trust our U.S. System…even w/out the funds for private attorney’s we trust the judge to make best decision based on each child knowing there should be punishment for crimes but not knowing the corruption involved….very sad for all us…

  13. Suzanne Nichols on September 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    “Unjustly branded as the Kids for Cash judge”???? How’s that. He made millions in bribes and sentenced children to harsh prison sentences in return. I disagree that he’s been unjustly branded and that he’s had enough punishment. I do think he’s going to find justice where he’s headed. Real karmic stuff.

  14. Mrs.Reinella S.Kirilova on September 4, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    For OVER Forty five years Now I too Have spoken Out about these types of Injustice being done to Our Nations most preasious resource; The Children At The Mercy Of A CROOKED Court system & SO Called “Child” Protection Welfare for Profit scams! Iam ONE OF THESE CHILDREN, So Where all My Ten kids the state of Ky. Toke from me,{ some only hours after birth! }Even A Dog Gets Six weeks to nurse her young! I was never a killer, Rapest, or Drug Dealer, In fact never been in no trouble since I have reached adulthood, WHY? Was I done this way? And All the crooks who did this to me have done it to my children. Who are all grown now, but live to tell the tail of rape & abuse at the hands of State of Ky. Soc. Sercives! When Will this Injustice Ever End? I had written my whole life story in a blog on myspace to bring awareness to this tradgy, Its taken over seven years, but finelly folks are lisioning! Sincerly Amomoften1

  15. Janice on September 4, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    He should be put in prison with the most hardened criminals. Media is no where near enough penalty Prisons and anything else that has to do with public should never be privatized. Money brings corruption. These judges must be real proud of themselves. Judging others when they are the worst criminals.

  16. Neil on September 4, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Where is the story about the Executives of PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers?

  17. Tamara Kay on September 4, 2013 at 11:14 pm
  18. Scott Watkins on September 4, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Ciaveralla’s attorneys requested a reasonable sentencing, arguing that the media attention brought to the case was punishment enough: “He will forever be unjustly branded as the `Kids for Cash’ judge.”

    No. He deserves nothing positive.

  19. Lucy Martinez on September 5, 2013 at 4:49 am

    It saddens me ,because lots of people know that this is going on,the same people that ,are in these places tell what is happening .They are like animals. but no one cares ,most can’t do anything no one will listen. I’m so glad that the Great One is shedding light on this inhuman way that our government has allowed these monsters to have this cruel thing happen. In these make shift jails ,there is murder happening and no one cares .

  20. Lucy Martinez on September 5, 2013 at 4:53 am

    And as far as this so called Judge may he will more then likely be put in one of the best prisons they have.Live like a King.I do not wish for him what others are going through just would like to see this Ugly system stopped.

  21. Dalia Hettfield on September 5, 2013 at 6:10 am

    No only insanity but nasty and very Unethical..what else can you expect for this repugnant people??
    Poor Kids… :'(

  22. Eleanor Penn-Whitehead on September 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    This Judge should have been sentenced to life without parole. His criminal action against the public that he was sworn to protect was grossly violated, he has complete disrespect his colleagues and his behavior and actions amount to white slavery.

  23. Charles Magus on September 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Hang him high and save the Tax payer money to keep him in Prison

  24. Charla on September 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    This is HORRENDOUS. But what do we expect with a privatized prison system being fed by a militarized police and autocratic in-justice system. FASCISM: merger of corporation and State.

  25. Daniel on September 5, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    So> where is the charges on the company? To be able to conspire, you need two parties.

  26. C on September 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    I wonder if he will bunk up with any of those now grown up children who fell into the “revolving door” syndrome because if his ill deeds.

  27. SandyH on September 6, 2013 at 6:20 am

    NEWS FLASH! he *IS* the kids for cash judge! I wonder if inmates get as riled about THIS abuse of kids like they do pedophiles?

  28. Howard Gardella on September 6, 2013 at 6:25 am

    This man has done a great evil, I hope his jail sentence, is for the rest of his life, as well as all parties involved!

  29. Sue on September 8, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    So most of the children have been freed and cleared of their charges. Great. Now who is going to pay for the the professional counseling these children, and their families will need? They money for that had better be coming out of his pocket, and not John or Jane Q taxpayer.

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