Watching a child be put under arrest is hard enough. But imagine a judge sending thousands of kids to a detention center as part of a scheme in exchange for money. That’s what happened in the “Kids for Cash” case.
Ten years ago, two former judges — Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania — sent thousands of juvenile defendants to a for-profit detention center in exchange for money.
The detention center wanted to increase its occupancy. But it came at a price. Prosecutors disclosed that the former judges made almost $3 million in the scheme. And it’s the families of the “Kids for Cash” scheme that paid.
In 2007, when the “Kids for Cash” scheme came to light, the FBI and IRS started an investigation. And the trial for this infamous “Kids for Cash” case began in 2008. Both Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella were convicted and sentenced to 18 and 28 years, respectively. Conahan was released last year due to COVID-19, WNEP reported.
The defendant judges violated the constitutional rights of thousands of kids. Now, all orders entered by the judges during this time period have been vacated, and records of the victims have been expunged.
Hundreds of people are set to testify at an upcoming hearing in the “Kids for Cash” civil case.
Now comes the civil case. The long-awaited civil hearing has begun at the Wilkes-Barre Federal Courthouse in Pennsylvania. About 300 victims are expected to testify at the hearing on Monday.
Thousands of plaintiffs in this class-action lawsuit are former juveniles and their parents. If they win, they may be able to seek to money damages. However, many of these plaintiffs have already settled with the judges involved.
Many victims shared that the scandal badly affected and is still affecting them. Robert Avery, a “Kids for Cash” victim, then 15 years of age, said that even though innocent, judges sent him to the detention center for three months.
“You stripped me of 15 years of my life. I took up a drug addiction to cope with everything he put me through. The emotional stress, the trauma, it was the worst experience of my life, still dealing with it today,” Avery said.