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Judges who took prison kickbacks now ordered to pay millions


Michael Conahan, front left, and Mark Ciavarella, front right Associated Press/Photo by Mark Moran, The Citizens' Voice

Judges who took prison kickbacks now ordered to pay millions

U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner on Tuesday awarded $106 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages to 300 plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit. The two former Pennsylvania judges who have to pay the damages—their names are Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan—have been convicted of sending juvenile offenders to for-profit prisons in the state in exchange for about $2.8 million in illegal payments. The judges received prison sentences and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out 4,000 convictions for more than 2,300 people after the scheme was uncovered.

Will the victims actually get their money? It is unlikely the now-adult victims will receive any compensation for their suffering—a lawyer for the plaintiffs said he didn’t think the judges had enough money to pay a judgment. But another lawyer for the plaintiffs said that the punishment does recognize the severity of the judges’ crime. To calculate compensatory damages, the judge decided each plaintiff was entitled to a base rate of $1,000 for each day of wrongful detention, and adjusted that amount based on the circumstances of each case.

Dig deeper: Listen to Season 3 of WORLD’s Effective Compassion podcast to hear stories about how Christians are spreading the light of the gospel behind bars.


Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of WORLD Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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