Once again, I’m back to talking about Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Not long ago, I told you about a Wilkes-Barre woman who was awarded a judgment against the city for the official harassment she suffered after she petitioned the government. This time it’s local judges jailing young people in order to pad their own pockets with cold, hard cash.
For years, youth advocates argued that Judge Mark Ciavarella was, as they say, “way harsh.” Now, two Luzerne County judges, Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, have pled guilty to receiving $2.6 million in payoffs for forcing youthful offenders into private lock-ups.
Conahan was responsible for closing down the county-run juvenile prison and helping two private companies get lucrative contracts to house juvenile offenders. Ciavarella kept the Up the River hotel full of “clients.”
Who were they? What did they do?
Well, Hillary Transue lampooned her high school’s assistant principal on MySpace. Ciavarella sentenced her to three months.
Kurt Kruger says that he “was completely destroyed” after his conviction for being a look-out for a shoplifter. Kruger claims he was innocent. After being sent to a prison camp for four months he dropped out of high school.
There are many more such stories. How many? Well, at least $2.6 million dollars’ worth.
The best we can say for these recent stories from Wilkes-Barre is that they provide examples of an timeless truth: Political power cannot be trusted.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.