Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced to serve 28 years in federal prison two years ago. Last week, a federal appeals court said it would not reconsider a decision upholding the ruling.
Ciaverella, 61, was convicted of racketeering charges for receiving $1 million in bribes from a constructor of juvenile detention facilities. The judge had violated individual rights for at least 4,000 cases between 2003 and 2008, denying defendants the right to counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea.
Another judge, Michael Conahan was also accused of accepting $1 million in bribes from the same builder of the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers.
However, it was Ciavarella who made a name for himself as the draconian, cold arm of the law. Ciavarella filled the beds of juvenile detention centers with first-time offenders, convicts of minor-crimes and children as young as 10 years old.
Fortunately, that same arm of the law has turned on the man now known as the "kids-for-cash" judge. His lawyers’ defense consisted of an appeal of what they saw as overly cruel punishment.
"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," reads their memo.
The judge still maintains his innocence and that the transfers were not illegal. Perhaps he will spend his 28 years appreciating the fine construction of the federal prison, much like the juvenile centers to which he sent thousands of children.