Judge who accepted private-prison bribes to send black kids to jail sentenced to 28 years

In 2009, I wrote about Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, one of two Pennsylvania judges who was paid bribes by a private prison contractor to send black children to prison and keep the for-profit prisons full. Ciavarella, who once sent an African-American child to jail for three months for posting negative comments about her assistant principal on MySpace, has been sentenced to 28 years in prison. He was convicted of racketeering, and has been stripped of his state pension.

But after a federal investigation, it was discovered that Ciavarella and his colleague, Judge Michael Conahan, received more than $2.6 million from privately run youth centers owned by PA Child Care. In 2011, Ciavarella was convicted of racketeering and sentenced to 28 years in prison. He was also forced to pay $1 million in restitution.

Once Ciavarella was convicted, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed out 4,000 convictions issued by the judge.

Ciavarella appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to have his 28-year sentence overturned. On July 25, the court denied his request.

Judge to serve 28 years after making $2 million for sending black children to jail [Amir Shaw/Rolling Out]

(Thanks, John Jack!)

Notable Replies

  1. Now, now. The school to prison pipeline is greatly discriminatory, and it brought many more black children in front of the judge than white children, but the judge was an equal opportunity slave trader and sold white children to the private prison system too.

  2. This makes me wonder... He received several million USD in bribes - and yet this still had to be a profitable operation for the slavers.

    The amount of money in this system must be astonishing.

  3. Well, that's weird: someone in a position of power held accountable. You don't see much of that these days.

  4. Hey, it's a win-win for the private prison system, right? Either they get poor black kids or they get judges; they get paid either way.

  5. What about all the people around him who stood and did nothing? He was not some all-powerful villain surrounded by minions whose lives were at his mercy. Everyone in that court, including the police officers who arrested, held, transported the children, knew what was going on. This whole affair is despicably racist, inhumane and un-fixable by punishment. It is also an example of corruption: a commitment to money at all costs (to others). Which is a disease raging across the board.

    Punishing one person empowers the compliance of everyone around him. And, punishing implies that people will only do right out of fear.

    What scares me was that there was not one person in the court around him to say NO and disobey his orders, on day one. This is the only reason he did get away with ever doing this, even with one child, even once.

    Even one life ruined in this horrible way is too much.

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