Annals of horror

Update: Notice (as I didn’t until prodded) that the date on the item is August 24, 2011. Still worth knowing about.

One for the Jaw Dropped in Horror files. A Pennsylvania judge sent children to prison in exchange for money.

Accused of perpetrating a “profound evil,” former Pennsylvania judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for illegally accepting money from a juvenile-prison developer while he spent years incarcerating thousands of young people.

Prosecutors said Ciavarella sent juveniles to jail as part of a “kids for cash” scheme involving Robert Mericle, builder of the PA and Western PA Child Care juvenile detention centers.

What does that sound like? The Catholic church in Ireland, and judges who helped it get capitation money for children sentenced to imprisonment in industrial “schools.” Yes really. They did it partly for the money – money which they did not fully spend on the children.

Among the young people exploited by Ciavarella were 15-year-old Hillary Transue, who was sentenced to three months at a juvenile detention center for mocking an assistant principal on a MySpace page; and 13-year-old Shane Bly, who was sent to a boot camp for two weekends after being accused of trespassing in a vacant building.

Jaw dropping.


  1. says

    Yes, some religious who ran industrial “schools” were utterly infuriated that the courts were not sending enough children to fill their large institutions – the latter buildings of which in later years made millions for the orders in question. Letters were sent to government officials wanting to know the raison d’être as to the lack of children coming their way.

    Not only that, but capitation grants when they arrived at Goldenbridge – for the sole purpose of the children – were sent directly to the main provincial teacher training centre of the Sisters of Mercy (Carysfort College). Sisters of Mercy novices and the like got rich on teaching knowledge paid for with money that was not rightfully theirs. Their ethos was not to educate the poorer classes, but for the poorer classes to educate them. The religious were no different in their greedy treatment towards children, as was the corrupt judge in Pennsylvania. Ciavarella cared nothing about what the future may have held for the defenseless children he deceived by wrongfully locking them up in the nick. Well the nick got a good hold of him in the end.
    It’s a pity that the religious didn’’t get a taste of the same medicine.

    At least it was good news in Oct 2009, when ‘Pennsylvania Overturned Many Youths’ Convictions’:

  2. michaelpowers says

    The same thing goes on in the adult system. Most, a good 80%, going in are young, impressionable men in their late teens, early 20’s. Upon arrival, they’re generally recruited into gangs, generally separated by race. The other 20%, the career criminals, referred to as “shotcallers”, are the ones who run things inside. Often with tacit approval of staff. Because, if nothing else, they do keep order, and that translates into increased safety for the staff. Once recruited, they are expected to be soldiers, and to follow orders without question. The sanctions for failing to do so are rather severe. The shotcallers refer to these young men as “torpedoes”. (Inherently expendable). They also often serve as a buffer between those calling the shots, and whatever discipline the staff may decide to impose. Just like the outside, those at the top rarely suffer any consequences for their actions. Most of these young men are serving short sentences, less than 5 years, often half of that.

    What does society end up with when they get out? A cheap, ready made workforce who have been conditioned to obey without question. Who will be expected to be grateful for any low-paying job they get, no matter what their talents, or how well they live their lives from then on. Who have been relieved of that pesky burden of self-determination when their right to vote has been taken. Who engender no sympathy because people have been conditioned to equate “felon” with “axe murderer”, and with whom the public and private sector can do with pretty much as they please.

    It goes a lot higher than just judges. Step out of line, even a little, and your debt to society never, ever gets paid.

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