Wrecking Lives for Profit

Former Judge Mark Ciavarella
Mark Ciavarella Jr.
Former Judge Michael Conahan
Michael Conahan

When I first heard of this story a couple of years ago, I thought it just couldn’t be true: two county judges in Pennsylvania sentencing over 4,000 juveniles to a detention center for petty offenses so the judges could get kick-backs from the for-profit juvenile detention centers?! While some of the “offenses” were laughably petty, perhaps some were not.

Well, the two judges have been tried, convicted, and sentenced for their role in “kids for cash.” As a result of this unspeakable corruption, over 4,000 juvenile sentences were over-turned, as they well should have been. But at what cost?!

Many of these children didn’t begin to deserve incarceration and have probably been scarred for life. And for those who did deserve such sentences, they have their convictions overturned as well and are now free to commit crimes again.

Former Judge Michael Conahan was sentenced to 17.5 years in some posh federal prison camp in Florida. He had cooperated with authorities.  Former Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

This is another classic example of why I believe whole-heartedly that state services, like prisons, police and fire departments, and schools should never be run by for-profit organizations! The free market corporate capitalists failed us once again! To believe that for-profit enterprises can run state services more effectively while also turning a profit is just utter and complete nonsense!