The state's Supreme Court ruled that Judge Mark Ciavarella violated the Constitutional rights of teenagers in his court by failing to ensure they had proper legal representation. Last month, both Ciavarella and another senior juvie judge, Michaelf Conahan, pleaded guilty to taking $2.6 mil from the co-owner and builder of a private detention center. In return for the kickbacks, the judges were accused of insuring a continuous flow of juvies to the center to give them business. Ciavarella said in an interview with the Guardian that he was trying "to help these kids straighten out their lives." He did this by giving custodial sentences to kids as young as 14 for offenses like stealing a $4 jar of nutmeg and creating a satirical MySpace page goofing on a teacher. The Supremes received an official report by an independent judge, Arthur Grim, that stated that hundreds of children had been sentenced without the benefit of any legal advice (under Pennsylvania law, anyone under 17 is not allowed to waive their right to a lawyer unless they do so "knowingly, intellignetly, and voluntarily"). All the kids subjected to this farce have had their records purged.
Here's hoping the kids can rebuild their lives and that they didn't fall too far behind from this.