Kids-for-cash judges ordered to pay more than $200M

Two former Pennsylvania judges who orchestrated a scheme to send children to prison in exchange for bribes for profit have been ordered to pay more than $200 million to hundreds of people they killed in one of the worst court scandals in US history.

Victims fell $106 million in compensatory and $100 million in punitive damages to nearly 300 people in a long-running civil suit against judges writing that plaintiffs are “the tragic human victims of a
scandal” of epic proportions.

In the wake of the Kids-for-cash scandal, Mark Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, shut down a county-run juvenile correctional facility and accepted $2.8 million in illicit payments from the builder and co-owner of two for-profit dungeons.

Ciavarella, who presided over the juvenile court, enforced a zero-tolerance policy that ensured large numbers of children were sent to PA Childcare and its sister facility, Western PA Child Care.

Ciavarella ordered the incarceration of children as young as 8 years old, many of whom were classified as felons as first-time offenders for petty theft, reckless crossing, truancy, smoking on school grounds, and other minor offenses. a defense or even farewell to their families.

“Ciavarella and Conahan have reneged on their oath and violated the public trust,” Conner wrote Tuesday in his reasoning for the verdict. “His cruel and despicable actions have victimized a vulnerable population of young people, many of whom suffer from emotional and mental health issues.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out about 4,000 juvenile sentences involving more than 2,300 children after the scheme was discovered. the enormity of the crimes of the disgraced judges. “It’s a huge win,” Marsha Levick, co-founder and senior counsel of the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center and attorney for the plaintiffs, told on Wednesday.

“To have a federal court order that recognizes the seriousness of what the judges did to these children.” in the midst of some of the most critical years of their childhood and development, whether the money is paid or not is of enormous importance. Ciavarella is serving a 28-year sentence.

Conahan, who was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison, was released at home in 2020 with a six-year sentence remaining because of the coronavirus pandemic. in Luzerne County, Juvenile Court between 2003 and 2008 — 79 of whom was under the age of 13 when Ciavarella sent them to juvenile detention — and 32 parents. arrogant and rude behavior in the courtroom,” Conner wrote.

An unidentified child victim testified that Ciavarella “ruined my life” and “only prevented me from getting into my future,” according to Conner’s verdict. Another plaintiff said: “I feel like I was just sold for no reason.

As if everyone was queuing up to be sold. Another victim described shaking uncontrollably during a routine traffic stop as a result of the traumatic effects of her childhood incarceration and having to produce her mental health records in court to “explain why my behavior was so erratic.” were part of the litigation when it began in 2009 and have since died of an overdose or suicide, Conner said adjusted that amount to the circumstances of each case.

Substantial punitive damages are warranted because the disgraced judges inflicted “untold physical and emotional trauma” on children and youth, Conner wrote. The claim for damages only applies to plaintiffs who have chosen to participate in the proceedings.

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