Pennsylvania rocked by ‘jailing kids for cash’ scandal

(CNN) — At a friend’s sleepover more than a year ago, 14-year-old Phillip Swartley pocketed change from unlocked vehicles in the neighborhood to buy chips and soft drinks. The cops caught him.

Hillary Transue was 15 when she appeared before a judge, accused of mocking a principal on MySpace.

Former Luzerne county President Judge Mark Ciavarella pleaded guilty, faces prison and was disbarred.

There was no need for an attorney, said Phillip’s mother, Amy Swartley, who thought at most, the judge would slap her son with a fine or community service.

But she was shocked to find her eighth-grader handcuffed and shackled in the courtroom and sentenced to a youth detention center. Then, he was shipped to a boarding school for troubled teens for nine months.

“Yes, my son made a mistake, but I didn’t think he was going to be taken away from me,” said Swartley, a 41-year-old single mother raising two boys in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

CNN does not usually identify minors accused of crimes. But Swartley and others agreed to be named to bring public attention to the issue.

As scandals from Wall Street to Washington roil the public trust, the justice system in Luzerne County, in the heart of Pennsylvania’s struggling coal country, has also fallen prey to corruption. The county has been rocked by a kickback scandal involving two elected judges who essentially jailed kids for cash. Many of the children had appeared before judges without a lawyer.

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Source

I dont know what to say anymore. Some things just leave me speechless.

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