Originally published September 10 2015
Corrupt judge ruined thousands of kids' lives by selling them to prison-industrial complex
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) In recent months, President Barack Obama has made prison reform an issue, even issuing pardons to 46 non-violent drug offenders whom he said had been given unusually harsh sentences given the nature of their crimes.
However, neither Obama nor anyone else in national elected office has done much to mitigate the overall "prison industrial complex," a condition whereby state and federal prisons increasingly exist as for-profit enterprises constantly in need of "employees."
Nowhere was this more evident than in a case stemming from 2011 in which a state judge in Pennsylvania was himself convicted of feeding the prison industrial complex with minors.
As The Associated Press reported in August of that year, former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison in a "kids for cash" case that ruined the lives of scores of youngsters.
According to the report, Ciavarella, then 61, accepted some $1 million in bribes from a man who built two juvenile detention centers. In the wake of the scandal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed out about 4,000 of his convictions between 2003 and 2008, stating that Ciavarella violated the juveniles' constitutional rights, including the right to legal counsel and the right to enter an informed plea.
Lives irreparably damagedEarlier in the year, the disgraced judge was tried and convicted of racketeering charges; his attorneys had requested a "reasonable" sentence in court filings, saying that he was already being punished enough.
"The media attention to this matter has exceeded coverage given to many and almost all capital murders, and despite protestation, he will forever be unjustly branded as the 'Kids for Cash' judge," the submitted sentencing memo said.
Ciaverella's attorney, Al Fora, said at the time that his client's sentence was harsher than expected.
The Associated Press reported:
Ciaverella, speaking before the sentence was handed down, apologized to the community and to those juveniles that appeared before him in his court.
"I blame no one but myself for what happened," he said, and then denied he had ever incarcerated any juveniles in exchange for money.
He further criticized a U.S. assistant attorney, Gordon Zubrod, for referring to the case as "kids for cash," saying it ruined his reputation.
"He backdoored me, and I never saw it coming. Those three words made me the personification of evil," Ciavarella said. "They made me toxic and caused a public uproar the likes of which this community has never seen."
Federal prosecutors accused Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, of accepting more than $2 million in bribes from the builder of the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers and for extorting hundreds of thousands more from the co-owner of the facilities.
"Neo-slavery"Ciavarella was known for having a harsh, autocratic demeanor in his courtroom. His scandalous behavior filled the beds of juvenile detention centers with kids as young as ten years old. Many were first-time offenders convicted of petty theft and other low-level crimes.
The judge remained defiant after his arrest, insisting the payments were legal and denying he incarcerated youths for money, the AP reported.
As Natural News reported earlier this year, investigative reports have found that the prison-industrial complex remains alive and well.
Journalist Ben Swann interviewed fellow award-winning journalist Chris Hedges, who said that a sort of "neo-slavery" exists in most of today's prisons wherein inmates provide ultra-cheap labor for various industries that make huge profits from their incarceration.
"We have 25 percent of the world's prison population and 5 percent of the world's population," Hodges began, adding that "prisoners, under the [Constitution's] Thirteenth Amendment essentially work in a form of neo-slavery for about a $1.30 a day."
He added that "huge numbers of corporations" including Victoria's Secret and Hewlett Packard "use or exploit prison labor."
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