The title isn’t an exaggeration, a judge in Pennsylvania has been sentenced to 28 years in federal prison for selling children to juvenile detention centers. Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. accepted $1 million in bribes from Robert Mericle, the man who built the two juvenile detention centers that Ciavarella was sentencing kids to.
The bribery isn’t the only evidence showing Ciavarella was corrupt, many of the kids he sentences were prosecuted for very trivial crimes:
Ciavarella, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom demeanour, filled the beds of the private lockups with children as young as 10, many of them first-time offenders convicted of petty theft and other minor crimes.
Putting a 10 year-old kid in juvenile detention for petty theft makes nothing but sense right? If we don’t put him away now he’ll just become a hardened murdering drug dealer! It’s not like a parent can bring their 10 year-old to tears by berating them for committing an act of petty theft or anything.
Seriously, how the fuck did that judge get away with this for so long? Didn’t somebody find it a little suspicious that children were going away to juvenile detention for first time offenses of minor crimes? Didn’t that raise any red flags?
This case also demonstrates a couple of flaws with of our “justice” system. First of all judges have too much power as they can literally hold you in prison for life (contempt of court), sentence minors to juvenile detention without any oversight, and can flat out rule whether a law is legal or not (supreme courts).
The second flaw that is pointed out by this case is how our “justice” system doesn’t deliver justice but simply punishments. In the case of theft justice would be the return of the stolen property, payment by the thief to the victim for the cost of recovering the stolen property, and the value of the stolen item as the thief really deprived the victim of their rightful property and thus should lose the right to an equal value of property as punishment. Instead our system tosses the thief in prison at taxpayer expense and rarely returns the stolen property, or at least the value of the stolen property, to the victim. This is a side effect of our country moving away from treating crimes as offenses against individuals to offenses against society.
In the end those who were wrongfully sentenced by Ciavarella are the real losers. Depending on their sentences they’ve potentially lost years of their lives. Those kids will never get those years back. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the wrongfully sentenced kids turned to lives of crime simply because they developed a view that they’re going to be punished whether they remain lawful or do criminal activities. When somebody feels as though they’re going to be punished whether or not they do something wrong that person will often just do the wrong thing.