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State Failed to Investigate Complaints in Juvenile Court Kickback Scandal

A state conduct board has conceded that it never investigated any of the complaints made against a disgraced former Luzerne County Court judge accused of taking kickbacks to place juveniles in for-profit detention centers.   The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board said it received four complaints about former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan between 2004 and 2008, but failed to review any documents related to the complaints, according to the AP.

This new revelation is another chapter in what  many are calling the darkest day for the country's troubled juvenile-justice system. For more than four years earlier this decade, two senior county juvenile-court judges in northeastern Pennsylvania took kickbacks of $2.6 million in exchange for packing thousands of kids off to privately owned detention centers. Many of the kids had committed minor offenses and didn't have the benefit of a lawyer. A 14-year-old from Wilkes-Barre, for instance, spent a year in a Glen Mills detention facility for the offense of stealing loose change from unlocked cars to buy a bag of chips; he was only set free after public-interest lawyers challenged the constitutionality of the punishment. (See pictures of children behind bars.)
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