February 12th, 2009
11:08 PM ET

On the Radar: Jailing Kids for Cash?

Cate Vojdik
AC360°  Writer

If that headline caught your attention, well, you're not alone. This story pushes all the outrage buttons. It certainly pushed ours.

Here are the basics: Two Pennsylvania judges today pleaded guilty to accepting more than $2-million in kickbacks to send youth offenders to privately run detention centers. Now officials are looking into whether thousands of sentences should be overturned. The scandal is widening with the FBI now involved.

The story is full of stunning details. As prosecutors describe it, the scam these judges were operating was like a conveyor belt – into the courtroom, and whoosh.. off to the detention centers. Ka-ching.

We're Keeping Them Honest... Friday on 360°.

See you at 10 p.m. ET.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Cate Vojdik
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    And who says that "crime doesn't pay."

    February 13, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  2. Brenda Lee DiGovanni

    How dare they! Now some of the youths who may have had a bright future, with a lesson learned, have been subjected to conditions that will forever scar them with doubt! Both judges should pay restitution to the system, the detention centers should pay restitution both monetarily to the families of the victimized inditiduals, as well as scholarships directly to each victim in an amount that would be calculated in accordance with the time they were detained and then some! Then, all involved should be jailed themselves! Last but not least, any and all law degrees and licenses should be revoked permanantly in the United States and abroad. They are innocent until proven guilty, how ironic! I would equate this type of conduct with the trafficking of our youth! I am outraged!

    February 13, 2009 at 5:41 am |
  3. Rafiq

    Jailing for cash? That is small fry. Probably just a thousand dollars or so. Suicide bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan? Well, that results in billions of dollars of contracts to US private security contractors.

    February 13, 2009 at 5:40 am |
  4. susan williams

    I live in luzerne county , we are very happy that this has made national headlines as there is so much corruption in our area. this is, as I understand, only the tip of the iceburg.

    not only do we have the corruption of judges but really look into the property reassessment! many assessments have tripled or even more than that. One woman had an appraisal of her home that was appraised at approx $80,000 and the county reassessment in turn stated her small home was assessed at over $400,000!!! then they want to raise the taxes 10%! then we are informed one of our convicted judges had a small part in the appeals process of these reassessments, and yet they still want to go through with this.

    thank god the FBI and secret service and attorney generals office are looking into this corruption because in all of my life i have never seen anything like it.
    I just feel so sorry for the kids that were put in the juvy centers, who didnt belong there, just for the greed of these people. from what i gather up to 17 people are involved in this county corruption ordeal in one way or another. keep the honest Cooper!!!!

    February 13, 2009 at 5:05 am |
  5. Joseph

    This issue here just goes to show the sad reality of how Money can effect the Laws that everyday people must obide by. Yet if you have the money to pay for tipping the scales of Justice. None the less this is also beyond my understanding- I mean seriosly 8 years of Education on Law, Bar Exam – Now this was for an "Honest Living "
    Things that make you go Hmmm..

    February 13, 2009 at 2:36 am |
  6. Stef

    If more people would think b4 they acted then there would be no need dor policing. There are very few parents out there who can control a child w/ special needs w/o help. They also refuse to do any constructive parenting after someone decides ur child needs to be institutionalized so u dont hafta raise them.
    Or maybe I'm out of line.

    February 13, 2009 at 12:00 am |
  7. Marvin

    I'd like to know how far the money trail runs...but really it didnlt surpprise me...because the entire judical system is all about money...I just hope the same judicial system with procecute all the is involved...from the bottom to the top, starting with the judges.

    February 12, 2009 at 11:59 pm |
  8. Patrick - Atlanta GA

    I can't believe what I am reading. Judges putting kids in jail for $money. To start with, I continue to be concerned about the aggressive behaviour by police in towards our young people, especially youth of african american decent. There are some really good people in the policing business but alot seem to behave like WWF wrestlers in the cage.

    Now to compound the problem we have the judges making $money by ruining young lives.

    Are there any good, honest , kind, understanding, open minded people left?

    February 12, 2009 at 11:49 pm |
  9. VGK

    Part of the problem with the privatization of youth detention facilities is the opportunity for these types of things to happen. Obviously there needs to be greater oversight. Where was the head of the juvenile justice authority for the state while all of this was happining? Did they provide no oversight? Did they not see something out of the ordinary in the private jails budget reports, or was this paid for by the counties? It seems that the potential exists that some of these kids may have been jailed for status offenses in direct violation of federal law. Obviously, something went terribly wrong and not just with the "judges"!!!

    February 12, 2009 at 11:33 pm |