Thursday, 12 February 2009

Are the children Un-Guilty?

The story of Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, the two judges in Luzerne County (eastern PA; Wilkes Barre is the county seat) who have pleaded guilty to accepting $2.6 million in kickbacks for sending juvenile offenders to privately-operated detention facilities, is everywhere, with headlines like US judges admit to jailing children for money (Reuters) and 2 judges plead guilty in sending kids to lockup (AP) and Two judges imprisoned teens for cash (Examiner). One of the two detention facilities, Western PA Child Care LLC, is located in Butler County and owned by a Pittsburgh businessman.
Slate takes a slightly different look at the story, with an article that discusses what might happen to the children whom the allegedly corrupt judges have sentenced over the years. The answer, of course, is "it depends". The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has already appointed Berks County judge Arthur E. Grim to review every case that the two judges heard during the period in which they allegedly took money—about 5,000 hearings from 2003 to 2006. If that Grim determines that a sentence was unfair, he can order a new hearing, petition to clear the youngster's record, or declare the entire verdict void ab initio.

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