More than 70 juveniles and their families filed a lawsuit Thursday against two former Pennsylvania judges who pleaded guilty this month to taking kickbacks to put young offenders in privately run detention centers. The suit contends that before resigning last year, the judges “used kids as commodities that could be traded for cash,” placing an “indelible stain” on the juvenile justice system of Luzerne County, Pa., reports the New York Times.
The suit, filed in federal court in Scranton by the Juvenile Law Center, seeks to have all profits that the detention centers earned from the scheme placed in a fund that would compensate the youths for their emotional distress. The Philadelphia-based organization had already asked the State Supreme Court to clear the records of all juveniles who appeared before the judges, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan. They pleaded guilty on Feb. 12 to federal charges for having taken more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to the two privately operated centers, run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care.