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Criminal Justice For Juveniles

Criminal Justice For Juveniles

In this day and age it is sadly not shocking to hear of people in positions of authority acting in direct conflict to their sworn public duties.  Last month two judges in Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks from a private juvenile detention center.  But what makes this case so incredible is that these two judges were taking millions in return for sentencing children to the two detention centers doling out the cash. 

The more young people the judges sent to jail, the more money they saw.  Thousands of kids, many of whom were first time offenders, were sent up river between 2002 and 2008.  Eric Stefanski recently talked about his wrongful incarceration to ABC's 20/20.  Eric was just 12 years old with no prior offenses when Judge Mark Ciaravella sentenced him to two years in prison for taking his mother's car on a joyride.  Eric's mother had only filed the police report because she needed her insurance company to pay for the minor damage Eric caused to her car. 

Deputy director of the Juvenile Law Center, Marsha Levick, reported about some of the other children who were sent to jail in Ciaravella's courtroom.  She said, "A child who shoplifted a $4 bottle of nutmeg, a child who was charged with conspiracy to shoplift because he was present when his friend was shoplifting.  A child who put up a MySpace page, taunting her school administrator." 

Ciaravella's sentencing was not only harsh but hasty as well.  It is being reported that many of the children that went before him were only given 2 minutes to present their case.

Pennsylvania juvenile judge, Arthur Grim, reviewed Ciavarella's cases.  He told ABC, "I'm seeing cases which seem to take in the neighborhood of a minute and a half to three minutes...That simply is not the way to do business." 

The courts are now in the process of overturning hundreds of the juvenile convictions.  But this will not undo the damage done to many of the children who were wrongfully jailed during their most formative years.  Since pleading guilty, Judge Ciaravella may be looking at 7 years in a federal prison for the crimes he committed.

What do you think of the way Judge Ciaravella conducted himself in his courtroom?

Do you think 7 years in prison is a suitable punishment for his crimes?
 

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  • tigpooh1516 By tigpooh1516
    03.30.09  

    That is horrible! Those poor children were victims of this man. He took advantage of his position to better his wallet. Obviously the things that the children did were wrong, but that is an extremely harsh punishment for first-time offenders. He should get much more than 7 years in prison for these crimes....think of what he doen to those children's lives!

  • DKSantos5 By DKSantos5
    03.30.09  

    That is definately ann abuse of power. Our children today face enough challenges and many get in enough trouble on their own and do not need an Authority Figure abusing their power and taking it out on them. Seven years is sufficient but please make sure they are unable to get positions like this again.

  • emach12 By emach12
    03.30.09  

    The very sad thing is; this story is only a drop in the bucket. Our judicial system is so corrupt, and until there are more people whom are willing to take stand and report these abuses, this will remain a problem. Anyone who works in any aspect of the judicial system will tell you about the systematic abuse of our system. Unfortunatly, the coward quotes, 'we should not complain, it is the best system in the world..' Our judicial system is broken, and we have all had a part in breaking it.

  • am_i_lost By am_i_lost
    03.31.09  

    Terrible!! Why isn't everybody watched more carefully? How is it that this went on for so long unnoticed? How can we teach our children to do the right thing if the leaders in the country are so corrupt? I'm sure the "Good Judge" got a fair trial unlike anyone that stood before him. It's an out rage!! He should have gotten one of his own sentences handed down to him!!!!

  • largemarge1022 By largemarge1022
    04.01.09  

    today i read that judge chivarella is claiming judicial immunity for his despicable disregard of the rights of the children he sent away without legal advice. plus he is claiming his pension before sentencing. where is the justice in our court? how can this person get away with this. he has contributed to the destruction of young people's lives. i know people were questioning the court system in this area and appeals to a higher court went unanswered. people looked the other way. as a democratic country, we just cannot stand idle. we must stand up for our rights and protect our children and the people who cannot defend themselves.

  • reetl1 By reetl1
    04.01.09  

    I saw this show and I could not believe it. I can not imagine this happening to my child or anyone elses for that matter.

  • dolphin375 By dolphin375
    04.03.09  

    so, i'm wondering where the DA and the kids counsel where during all of this. This doesn't seem right. And no, 7 years is not enough for the damage this guy has done.

  • southernkoors By southernkoors
    04.04.09  

    I live in this area and believe there are still many others involved. I hope they investigate further. They should get life and face civil suits for the way they ruined these childrens lives

  • allovermobile By allovermobile
    04.05.09  

    While I agree that this is appalling, how do you think these people get that way? Somewhere along the line they decided this was acceptable. If the 12 year old stole his moms car there needs to be some punishment. If my son ever stole my car and damaged it he would be the one paying not the insurance company. Don't get me wrong I am not excusing any of the judges behavior and believe they should be punished to the utmost because they should be held to a much higher standard being in the position of power they are in. I am just sad to see where we are that so many people now a days do not take responsibility for their own actions and put the blame on others all the time.

  • agaphmou By agaphmou
    04.11.09  

    This goes to show that anyone can be corrupt.No occupation is free of scandal.

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