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  • 1. NASW Presentation Understanding KIDS FOR CASH Scandal
  • 2. How did this happen?  Jan. 26: The U.S. attorney for the middle district of Pennsylvania charges Ciavarella and Conahan with fraud and conspiracy.
  • 3. Past History From 1981 until 1997, Judge Chester Muroski handled the county’s delinquency and dependency cases. Local youth workers recall him as fair. His philosophy when it came to first-time offenders, he says, was that confinement should be used only in matters of serious violence.
  • 4. The Years Before.. Under Judge Muroski, a relatively small number of youths had been detained at the Luzerne County Juvenile Detention Center. A directory of detention centers published by the American Correctional Association reported that three juveniles were at the detention center on June 30, 1991. Muroski sent 65 youth to out-of-home placements in 1995 and 60 in 1996.
  • 5. Understanding How it all Started.. Looking over the data, and from interviews once Ciavarella took over Juvenile court many youth workers immediately noticed changes. “We started to see the number of kids going to Camp Adams skyrocket,” recalled Ron Evans, who was working with the local Big Brothers Big Sisters at the time, referring to a military-style camp for juveniles.”- Ron Evans
  • 6. Interviews From interviews with attorneys interviewed during the year 2004 candidly admitted that their presence often made little difference given Ciavarella’s staunch philosophical views on juvenile justice. Zero Tolerance was in full effect following the 2005 year in the Juvenile Court System that would be enforced by Ciavarella.
  • 7. First Appointed In1995 Mark Civerella was voted into a Judge Position and placed in charge of the Juvenile System.
  • 8. Understanding Zero Tolerance Zero tolerance imposes automatic punishment for infractions of a stated rule, with the intention of eliminating undesirable conduct. Zero-tolerance policies forbid persons in positions of authority from exercising discretion or changing punishments to fit the circumstances subjectively; they are required to impose a pre-determined punishment regardless of individual culpability, extenuating circumstances, or history. This pre- determined punishment need not be severe, but it is always meted out.
  • 9. Understanding Zero Tolerance Zero-tolerance policies are studied in criminology and are common in formal and informal policing systems around the world. The policies also appear in informal situations where there may be sexual harassment or Internet misuse in educational and workplace environments.
  • 10. Zero Tolerance cont. Littleevidence supports the claimed effectiveness of zero-tolerance policies. One underlying problem is that there are a great many reasons why people hesitate to intervene, or to report behavior they find to be unacceptable or unlawful. Zero-tolerance policies address, at best, only a few of these reasons.
  • 11. Zero Tolerance Cont. For instance, Ciavarella had a zero tolerance policy for crimes committed while in school. With rare exception those children would be sent away to an out-of-home placement, period. “Basically, if something happens in school, no matter how minor it is, it’s going to result in the child going away,” Virginia Murtha-Cowley, a former public defender for Luzerne County, said in a 2004 interview.
  • 12. Time Line: 1999- 2001 1999 | Ciavarella sends 192 youths to out-of-home placements. In his first three years, Ciavarella places more youths (363) than Muroski did over his final six years handling the juvenile docket. 2001 | The Pennsylvania Superior Court overturns a 1999 decision in which Ciavarella committed a 13- year-old who did not have an attorney present. "Ill never do it again," Ciavarella tells a local newspaper, about allowing a defendant to proceed without an attorney.
  • 13. Time Line: 2002 2002 | County President Judge Michael Conahan signs a placement guarantee agreement in January between the court and PA Child Care, a new privately run detention facility, worth $1.3 million a year. In December 2002, Conahan and Ciavarella announced they would no longer send juveniles to the center because of deplorable conditions, even though the Department of Public Welfare deemed it safe. The county started leasing beds from a new, private facility, PA Child Care. From 2002 to 2006, Luzerne never averaged fewer than 19 youths per day at that facility.
  • 14. Time Line: 2003 – 2004 2003|Conahan and Ciavarella get a total of $997,600 in kickbacks for their roles in the construction and use of PA Child Care. 2004|A high school student named Lisa is committed to Female Adventure Challenge Therapy (FACT) for writing a threatening note to another girl. The case prompts the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader to do a series of articles on Ciavarellas court practices. 2002-04 | Ciavarella commits 1,111 youths to out-of home placements.
  • 15. Time Line: 2005 2005 | Western PA Child Care is built; the judges receive another $1 million in concealed payments from the developers. Pennsylvania mandates that juvenile judges engage each juvenile facing adjudication in a standard colloquy, intended to make sure youths are aware of their right to counsel and the potential consequences involved in their cases. Ciavarella later admits he never issued the colloquy.
  • 16. 2006 - 2007 2006 | The last in a string of payments dating back to 2003 is made to Conahan and Ciavarella. All told, the U.S. attorney estimates that the judges received $2.6 million in unlawful payments. 2007 | Fifteen-year-old Hillary Transue is committed in April to FACT for three months for creating a MySpace page that mocked her schools assistant principal. She does not have a lawyer and Ciavarella does not advise her of her right to counsel. The Juvenile Law Center (JLC) helps to get her released early.
  • 17. Time Line: 2007 In 2007, a frantic call from an alarmed parent prompted Juvenile Law Center to investigate irregularities in Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County juvenile court. As the investigation started,the investigation uncovered hundreds of children routinely appeared before Judge Mark Ciavarella without counsel, were quickly adjudicated delinquent (found guilty) for minor offenses and immediately transferred to out- of-home placements.
  • 18. Time Line: 2008 April 29, 2008: The Juvenile Law Center, a public advocacy group, asks the Supreme Court to investigate the large number of juveniles appearing without counsel before Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella. Ciavarellas incarceration rate for juveniles is more than double the state average, the center reports. May 26, 2008: Ciavarella removes himself from juvenile court duties and admits he repeatedly failed to properly inform juveniles of their right to counsel.
  • 19. Time Line: 2009 Jan. 8, 2009: The state Supreme Court denies the Juvenile Law Centers request for a review of Ciavarellas cases. Jan. 26, 2009: Federal prosecutors announce Ciavarella and former judge Michael T. Conahan will plead guilty to accepting $2.8 million from individuals tied to for-profit juvenile detention centers. The court subsequently removes them from judicial duties.
  • 20. Time Line: January to February 09 Jan. 30, 2009: The Juvenile Law Center asks the Supreme Court to reconsider a review of Ciavarellas cases. Feb. 11, 2009: The Supreme Court names Senior Berks County Judge Arthur E. Grim to conduct a review.
  • 21. Time Line: June to August 2009 June 9, 2009: In consultation with the Supreme Court, legislation is introduced in the General Assembly to form the Inter branch Commission on Juvenile Justice to investigate the kids-for-cash scandal. Its 11 members will be appointed by the assembly, the governors office and the court. Aug. 24, 2009: The former judges withdraw their guilty pleas after a federal judge rejects the 87- month prison sentences called for in their plea agreements. They are subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury.
  • 22. Time Line: 2009 Jan. 8, 2009: The state Supreme Court denies the Juvenile Law Centers request for a review of Ciavarellas cases. Jan. 26, 2009: Federal prosecutors announce Ciavarella and former judge Michael T. Conahan will plead guilty to accepting $2.8 million from individuals tied to for-profit juvenile detention centers. The court subsequently removes them from judicial duties.
  • 23. What became of this? Now we will look at what the scandal has produced. What has changed How the system has been affected What is new in the Juvenile System of Luzerne County Pa.