Kids-for-cash judges hit with $206 million penalty — Analysis

Pennsylvania Ex-jurists, who were paid bribes to transport children to profit prisons, have been ordered by the court to compensate their victims

For taking kickbacks from the builder of profit jails in order to transport hundreds of children, two former US judges were ordered to pay $206 Million civil damages.

According to Wednesday’s ruling by the US District Court of Scranton in Pennsylvania, Mark Ciavarella (ex-jurist) and Michael Conahan must pay over $106 million in compensatory and $100 million punitive damages for nearly 300 victims. While Conahan, who was freed to home-confinement in the wake of last year’s Covid-19 pandemic, was previously convicted for their conspiracy.

The so-called “kids-for-cash”Ciavarella and Conahan allegedly shut down a county-operated juvenile jail and received $2.8million in bribes form the developer of two private, for-profit Jails, PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care. In civil litigation, witnesses testified that the judges sent 8-year-olds to jail for minor infractions such as smoking and jaywalking.

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The Associated Press reports that Ciavarella frequently ordered children to immediately be shackled, taken away without their being able to defend themselves or to say farewell to their families. Two of the adult plaintiffs testified that their wrongful imprisonment had long-lasting effects on them, one even saying, “I feel I was just sold out for no reason, like everybody just stood in line to be sold.”

The long-running lawsuit was brought against several childhood victims. Some have since committed suicide, or taken drugs overdoses. The state overturned nearly 4,000 juvenile convictions after learning about the scheme.

Conner stated that Conner believed the judges were in breach of the public trust. “Their cruel and despicable actions victimized a vulnerable population of young people, many of whom were suffering from emotional issues and mental health concerns.”

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