Shackled: A Tale of Wronged Kids, Rogue Judges, and a Town that Looked Away

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Here is the explosive story of the Kids for Cash scandal in Pennsylvania, a judicial justice miscarriage that sent more than 2,500 children and teens to a for-profit detention center while two judges lined their pockets with cash, as told by Candy J. Cooper, an award-winning journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist.

In the early 2000s, Judge Mark Ciavarella and Judge Michael Conahan of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania were known as no-nonsense judges. Juveniles who showed up in their courtrooms faced harsh words and even harsher sentencing. In the post-Columbine era, many people believed that was just what the county needed to ensure its children and teens stayed on the straight and narrow path. But as more and more children faced shocking sentences for seemingly benign crimes, and a newly built for-profit detention center filled up further and further, a sinister pattern of abuses and bribery emerged. Through extensive research and original reporting leading into contemporary times, award-winning journalist Candy J. Cooper tells the story of a scandal that the Juvenile Law Center calls “one of the largest and most serious violations of children’s rights in the history of the American legal system.”

Story Locale: Luzerne County, Pennsylvania

Additional information

Author

Candy J. Cooper

Publication Date

April 2, 2024

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