Pa. Supreme Court Throws Out Thousands of Juvenile Delinquency Cases

"The information alleges that the judges ordered juveniles into these detention facilities, the facilities in which they had a financial interest, and on occasion that those orders were done, despite the recommendation of juvenile probation officers that the child not be detained, not be imprisoned," Carlson said.

Ciavarella denies having sentenced kids for cash, and told ABC News last spring, "I'm not pleading guilty to anything relative to cash for kids, embezzlement, extortion, quid pro quo. Absolutely not."

Losing Faith in the Justice System

Dave Janoski, projects editor of the Citizens Voice newspaper of Wilkes-Barre, said, "You could see that, at the very moment, when they could make the most money, that's when the number of kids spiked."

Many Wilkes-Barre residents exploded with anger when they heard that men they elected, and trusted to judge their children, had profited from their incarceration.

"There's been a lot of outrage," said Terrie Morgan-Besecker, staff writer for the Times Leader newspaper in Wilkes-Barre.

"I think a lot of them have lost faith in the system of justice ... that they went in there blindly thinking that they were going to talk to the judge, he was going to listen to them and hand down an appropriate punishment ... and they're just yanked away from their parents and put in shackles," she said. "It just left them absolutely stunned and not believing that this could happen."

Many people wanted to know who was looking out for the kids as they worked their way through the judicial system.

"I think that we had a conspiracy of silence going on in Luzerne County," Levick said. "There were officers of the court, there were members of the district attorney's office, members of probation, private lawyers, public defenders, who were in the courtroom every day. And they had to know what was happening and whether it was by virtue of intimidation or an unwillingness to get involved. The fact remains that nobody stood up."

When Ciavarella was asked about families' complaints of his rapid-fire brand of justice and trials that lasted only minutes with even first-time offenders sent to detention centers, he told "20/20," "You take a look at their file and you look to see if this was the first time they had a run-in with the law. It might have been the first time they're in front of me. You may be surprised that it's not going to be as clear-cut as they would like you to think."

'The Judge Is Incorrect'

But Arthur Grim, a Pennsylvania juvenile judge himself, who was assigned to review Ciavarella's cases, said Ciavarella is wrong.

"Kids were in there for relatively minor first-time offenses and ended up being placed," Grim said. "The judge is incorrect.

"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."

Chief Justice Ronald Castille of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court told ABC News last spring that "the Supreme Court is committed to righting whatever wrong was perpetrated on Luzerne's juveniles and their families." Thursday, he delivered on that promise.

CLICK HERE for more "20/20" reports.

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