"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 of the Juvenile Law Center 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."
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 asked Grim to examine the juvenile cases, which could mean expunging the records of as many as 2,500 children sent into detention by Ciavarella.
"We have told Judge Grim, take it wherever it goes," Castille said. "And I think my court would be willing to expunge the record of every one of those juveniles if we can't eliminate the specter of taint from what Judge Ciavarella did in treating them."