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'Kids for Cash' Judge Jailed Kids for Kickbacks

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 23, 2011 9:10 AM

Locking kids up in juvenile detention facilities for a chance to get rich is clearly an illegal act. To do so when you're a juvenile court judge elevates that crime to an egregious abuse of power. So when reports came out that Mark Ciavarella, a Pennsylvania judge, was doing just that, there was no doubt that he would face jail time.

The criminal proceedings against Mark Ciavarella revealed shocking details about his involvement in the "kids for cash" scheme. Prosecutors alleged that he and his cohort had meticulously plotted to shut down the county-run center only to then arrange for the construction of a new detention facility. He then sent juveniles to that new facility, which, according to CBS, was owned by Robert Miricle, a builder, and Robert Powell, a local attorney. Mark Ciavarella was taking payments from the two during that time.

Besides the obvious, engaging in the "kids for cash" scheme was a gross violation of Mark Ciavarella's judicial duties. Sentences must relate to the crime committed, and not be disproportionate to the offense. A judge has a duty to adhere to these principles so as to not violate a person's 8th or 4th Amendment rights. Instead of upholding the Constitution, CBS reports that Ciavarella additionally denied juveniles legal counsel and the right to enter a plea.

After hearing the evidence, a jury convicted Mark Ciavarella in the "kids for cash" fiasco last week. He was found guilty of racketeering, money laundering and conspiracy. The jury failed to convict him on 27 of the 39 counts, but he is still likely to serve more than 12 years in prison, reports the Associated Press. Ciavarella's defense attorney declared victory and vows to appeal.

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