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Most Revolting Corruption Story in a Long Time:

Eastern Pennsylvania has a terrible reputation for judicial corruption and venality -- the stories one hears from practitioners and others around Philadelphia are truly awful, with bags full of money and all the rest. But a story in the NY Times today breaks new, and more nauseating, ground. Two judges in the Wilkes-Barre area have pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks -- $2.6 million worth -- from local juvenile detention centers for sentencing young offenders to time in the facility (the facilities were reimbursed by the state on a per-prisoner basis, so the more kids they had, the more money they earned). So dozens and dozens of kids who would ordinarily have expected to get a slap on the wrist -- for writing nasty things about their high school principals on Facebook, for starting fights in the playground, that sort of thing -- received sentences of several months in the detention facility instead, all, it turns out, to line the pockets of the judges.

Maybe it's just because I am a parent with two kids of my own, or maybe I'm just a soft-hearted romantic, but to do this to young people for the sake of a few bucks (or 2.6 million bucks, or 260 million bucks) is -- well, you pick your own adjective. One has to assume that lives were ruined because of this -- 3 months in juvy for a high school kid who doesn't belong there is a terrible, terrible thing - and I hope these two (for the record, and for the benefit of Internet readers in the 22nd century, and to insure that their names do not disappear from the List of the Wicked, the judges in question were Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and Judge Michael T. Conahan) get the punishment they so truly deserve. 2009, I hope, won't give us anything more shameful than this.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Evil Men:
  2. Most Revolting Corruption Story in a Long Time:
125 Comments

Evil Men:

A while back I posted a commentary about the two judges in Wilkes-Barre PA who sentenced several thousand kids to time in the local detention center in exchange for $2.6 million in kickbacks from the operator of the detention facility. I wrote:

Maybe it's just because I am a parent with two kids of my own, or maybe I'm just a soft-hearted romantic, but to do this to young people for the sake of a few bucks (or 2.6 million bucks, or 260 million bucks) is -- well, you pick your own adjective. One has to assume that lives were ruined because of this -- 3 months in juvy for a high school kid who doesn't belong there is a terrible, terrible thing - and I hope these two (for the record, and for the benefit of Internet readers in the 22nd century, and to insure that their names do not disappear from the List of the Wicked, the judges in question were Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and Judge Michael T. Conahan) get the punishment they so truly deserve. 2009, I hope, won't give us anything more shameful than this.

The Times had a story last week giving more of the gory details of how the two arranged the scam, and it makes for a sad, sad story of venality and greed of the worst possible kind. I'm horrified to discover, among other things, that one of the two (Michael Conahan) has a law degree from Temple, where I teach law - an ugly stain on a fine institution.

63 Comments