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Pennsylvania detention facilities settle in juvenile sentencing scandal lawsuit

Three companies behind private juvenile detention and treatment facilities involved in a northeastern Pennsylvania juvenile justice scandal have settled a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million. The scandal involved two former judges for the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas [official website], Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan, who allegedly received $2.8 million in kickbacks from a commercial builder, an attorney and a businessman in exchange for helping to construct and operate two juvenile detention centers and placing hundreds of juvenile offenders there.The settlement concerned claims brought by juveniles [AP report] against PA Child Care, and Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp. [corporate websites], and was granted preliminary approval in federal court. The settlement now goes to US District Judge A Richard Caputo for approval.

The juvenile sentencing scandal [JURIST news archive] first came to light in 2009. The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] last May upheld the conviction and 28-year sentence for Ciavarella, who was convicted by a jury [JURIST reports] in the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania [official website] of racketeering, mail fraud, money laundering, tax fraud and other related crimes. In August 2011 the court sentenced [JURIST report] Ciavarella to 28 years in prison despite his eligibility for a life sentence under federal sentencing guidelines. Ciavarella's trial began [JURIST report] in early February 2011. In December 2012 a federal judge approved a settlement [JURIST report] of almost $18 million in a lawsuit brought by juveniles wrongfully incarcerated by the two judges. In July 2010 Judge Edwin Kosik accepted [JURIST report] a plea agreement from former judge Conahan for his involvement in the juvenile sentencing scandal. In October 2009 the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania overturned [JURIST report] 6,500 juvenile-offender convictions issued by Ciavarella. Conahan and Ciavarella were indicted in September 2009, following a withdrawal of the guilty pleas they entered [JURIST reports] in February 2009.

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