Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced today to 28 years in prison for accepting one million dollars in bribes to place children in two juvenile detention facilities built by the man who paid the Judge. Many of the children sentenced to the facilities were first time offenders and some were as young as ten years old when they were removed from their families. Arguably, they could have been better served by probation, saving public money to detain children who had demonstrated that probation would not be a sufficient deterrent. The 61 year old jurist was known as harsh and autocratic in his courtroom and sentenced at least 4,000 children to the facilities between 2003 and 2008, as that is the number of children who had their convictions overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the aftermath of the scandal. Perhaps most disturbing about this story is that for all the years that this reportedly occurred absolutely nothing was done about it. The Judge operated with impunity. When lawyers did report him for his conduct nothing was done to stop him. The Pennsylvania Courts are currently conducting a review of this situation and looking at ways to police themselves to ensure that a similar situation cannot reoccur in the future. Stay tuned….
The Pennsylvania Criminal Lawyers at Fairlie & Lippy are experienced in handling juvenile crime cases. If you or someone you know has committed a crime as a juvenile, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free initial consultation.