The Opposite Of Justice

Yet Another Legal Outrage

I’ve spent waaayyyyy too much time outraged lately.  The judges names are Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and Michael T. Conahan.

From The Volokh Conspiracy:

Two judges in the Wilkes-Barre area have pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks — $2.6 million worth — from local juvenile detention centers for sentencing young offenders to time in the facility (the facilities were reimbursed by the state on a per-prisoner basis, so the more kids they had, the more money they earned).

No, that’s not the outrage.  This is.

So dozens and dozens of kids who would ordinarily have expected to get a slap on the wrist — for writing nasty things about their high school principals on Facebook, for starting fights in the playground, that sort of thing — received sentences of several months in the detention facility instead, all, it turns out, to line the pockets of the judges.

The law too little understands the person injustices that abuse of the law administers.  That’s by design, and it’s very difficult to design a system that’s any better, after all.  As an example, a person incarcerated for a rape he didn’t commit 20 years ago and exonerated by DNA evidence not available then can not be given his life back, and worse, every protest he makes of his innocence only hardens the law against him (see Innocent Punished More Harshly Than Guilty).

But this is something else, and can be put in terms that even people in the justice system can understand.  What these two judges have done is a serious offense against the state.  In the same way that a murder is not tried in court as “The family of the Victim vs, The Accused”, but as “The State vs. The Accused”, these judges have not only irreparably damaged the lives of the children involved, they have also seriously damaged the community by harming them, much more than $2.6 million worth.

One has to assume that lives were ruined because of this — 3 months in juvy for a high school kid who doesn’t belong there is a terrible, terrible thing – and I hope these two (for the record, and for the benefit of Internet readers in the 22nd century, and to insure that their names do not disappear from the List of the Wicked, the judges in question were Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and Judge Michael T. Conahan) get the punishment they so truly deserve.

The original NYT article is here.

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