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Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Juvenile Justice: What They Deserve

What they deserve

Outside the federal courthouse in Scranton, two veteran judges received the angry reception they justly deserved after pleading guilty to corruption charges.

The bystanders who screamed at former Luzerne County President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., 58, and his predecessor, Senior Judge Michael T. Conahan, 56, last week gave voice to the thoughts of many community and legal observers.

After all, these judges stand accused of sending children to jail in return for kickbacks that totaled $2.6 million over seven years from two for-profit detention centers. Prosecutors say the pair also helped the detention centers land contracts worth $58 million, buried a critical audit, and even shut down a competing center run by the county.

For hundreds of juveniles, justice was denied when - upon advice from the bench - they waived their right to an attorney. That made it easy for Ciavarella to pack the kids off to a detention center, even when juvenile probation officers recommended against it, the feds say.

The judges have been bounced from the bench and will be formally sentenced to jail soon. Next, they should be disbarred and stripped of their state pensions.

A class-action lawsuit filed Friday against the judges provides yet another forum to answer for their conduct. Yet there's still a long way to go in making amends to hundreds of children who were railroaded by Luzerne County's juvenile court.

In legal papers filed last week, the state Supreme Court made a good start by launching an in-depth probe of the injustices perpetrated by the two county judges. First and foremost, the high court's special master, Berks County Senior Judge Arthur E. Grim, will have to determine - and quickly - whether any juvenile remains unfairly jailed due to the judges' conniving.

The review by Grim comes at the urging of the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, an advocacy group that blew the whistle on kids' mistreatment. While the Supreme Court stumbled at first by taking a pass on the issue, it is reassuring that the court has assumed jurisdiction now over the Luzerne County juvenile-justice system. Better late than never, the court's unsigned order sends the right message by describing the corruption allegations as a "travesty of juvenile justice."


Anonymous said...

It's pretty sad when those who take an oath to uphold justice and are put a position where they hold the fate of so many people's lives in their hands care more more about the almighty dollar than they do seeing justice served.

On the local news (I'm a PA resident) it has been reported that these allegations would carry a prison sentence of 25 years. I personally believe that sentence should be doubled or tripled for these two crooks (and I personally believe these two are just the beginning) since they were in a position to enforce the laws of this state. Instead I'm hearing reports that may receive as little as 7 years.. what an injustice!! Since when is our system easy on crime?? Oh that's right... only when it's corrupt politicians or power players do we swing away from the lock 'em up throw away the key mentality!

Anonymous said...

They need to make an example here for sure...lord knows they have done it with kids enough

Anonymous said...

Yes, i agree with the above, however they should look real deep into the adult side of there system as well. Its happened right up here in Larimer Colorado with a pair of prosecutors turned judges in the Tim Masters case. Ive said before, kick them off the bench and disbar them and a little jail time wouldnt hurt either. I suspect that Colorado has a lot more problems right in Denver and probably elsewhere. Seems there is no transparency in Colorado government. They need to take a lesson from our President OBAMA, starting with our governor Ritter. He needs to read his mail and respond. I have been trying since he was elected to report probable wrong doing in DOC. Raping women inmates is probably wrong isnt it??
Ex Warden Joanie Shoemaker and your Attorney General John Suther know about it as well as the Colorado IG and the director of the DOC, Ari Zavaras. Wouldnt it be politicaly right to look into it and release the women who were raped and terrorized, then punish those DOC people who were responsible. Wouldnt that be real justice and making it transparent would stop all the hanky panky thats probably going on right now. djw

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with all the above. Our Whole Judicial System is a TRAVISTY! And Justice??? It's not about Justice, It's all about the MONEY!!! Keep it coming! Once you get tangled up "In the System", your "In the system"! Weather a person is "In" or "Out"... If a person has an inmate #, it's just a matter of time, he'll be back in on a simple violation, and by the time he goes to court again, he'll have 4 or five more...bogus charges on top of the original. They do that so they can "Plea Bargin", which is a guarantee that the original charge will stick. Bingo, they get their money from the fine, and the person goes back to jail. It's a vicious cycle!
Someone mentioned "Probably...Hanky Panky going on...right now"??? COME ON NOW! There is and has been for a long, long time!
Some of these "Powers behind the Badge" are really into the brutality, terror and torture, and they get away with it all, simply because they can!They have a badge, they do what ever they want. What is their mental state about? The Code of Silence? D.O.C. Why do they call it "Department of Corrections"? It should be called "Department of Corruption" or "Confusion"!! Our generation has to step up and put a stop to it all...NOW!!!

Anonymous said...