Ex-Judge Mark Ciavarella, 61, was convicted Friday of racketeering and conspiracy in an illegal scheme to incarcerate a greater number of juveniles for profit. Yahoo Finance reported that the ex-Luzerne County judge was prosecuted two years ago,
“in a case that accused him of sending youth offenders to for-profit detention centers in exchange for millions of dollars in illicit payments from the builder and owner of the lockups”
With their power to sentence, judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan abused their positions to enrich themselves as they unlawfully sentenced many juveniles to excessive terms in exchange for bribes from the privatized prison system.
“The judge, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom demeanor, filled the beds of the private lockups with children as young as 10. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed thousands of juvenile convictions issued by Ciavarella, saying he ran his courtroom with “complete disregard for the constitutional rights of the juveniles,” including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea.”
Federal prosecutors accused the two of taking more than $2 million in bribes from the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers. They also extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facilities’ co-owner while insisting that the payments were legal and denying that the harsh sentences were related to the payments.
As this official data indicates, the prison population grew significantly since the 1980s which coincides with “conservative, limited Government” President Reagan’s war on drugs and the simultaneous introduction of the privatization of the U.S. prison system.
Amongst the many private prisons in the United States Corrections Corporation of America (CXW) is currently traded with a market cap of $2.75 billion, the GEO Group (GEO) $1.62 billion. Signal Hill analyst T.C. Robillard told CNBC in November “You’ve seen prison populations pretty consistently over the last three decades move up a couple percent a year…and from a business model perspective, it’s clearly good news”.