Prison-Industrial Complex Watch: PA Judge Sentenced 28 Years For Racketeering


File this one in the prison-industrial complex archives.

Pennsylvania Judge (or should I say former Judge) Mark A. Ciavarella received $2.6 million from “PA Child Care,” which is a private juvenile detention center. Don’t you just love their friendly name? What did Ciavarella do to “earn” this money?

Wikipedia — Ciavarella pleaded guilty on February 13, 2009, pursuant to a plea agreement, to federal charges of honest services fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion in connection with receiving $2.6 million in kickbacks from Robert Powell and Robert Mericle, the co-owner and builder respectively, of two private, for-profit juvenile facilities. In exchange for these kickbacks, Ciavarella sentenced children to extended stays in juvenile detention for offenses as minimal as mocking a principal on Myspace, trespassing in a vacant building, and shoplifting DVDs from Wal-mart.

Ciavarella was convicted of racketeering in 2011. His appeal failed last month (July 2013). He is now serving his sentence at a federal prison in Pekin, IL. Oh, and hundreds of juvenile convictions issued by Ciaverella were tossed because he violated the constitutional rights of youth offenders.

This serves as the latest example of why privatization of public services is nearly always a bad idea. And this is especially true when it comes to our prisons. Nobody should be making a profit (legal or illegal) on incarceration.

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