University of Tennessee Privatization of Correctional Services Discussion Board

The University of Tennessee Chattanooga

Question Description

Can you help me understand this Law question?

In 2002, Judge Michael Conahan of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, shut down the county juvenile detention facility in Luzerne Cunty and proposed, instead, to sign a multi-million-dollar lease to use two private facilities. County commissioners approved the lease after being advised it would be far cheaper than operating its own juvenile detention facility. This was part of a scheme that began in 2000, when Judge Conahan conspired with three other men, Judge Mark Ciavarell, Robert Mericle and Robert Powell, to build two private juvenile detention facilities in Luzerne County. Mericle, a prominent real estate developer and Powell, co-owner of the two facilities, paid the judges $2.1 million as a “finder’s fee.” From 2002 to 2009, the two judges placed thousands of youthful offenders in the two private detention facilities. Many were first-time offenders or charged with petty violations (or both). A significant proportion waived their right to an attorney and were never informed of their constitutional rights by the judges. For each juvenile placed in the private facilities, the judges received a “kickback.” Between 2002 and 2009, the judges made millions. Across Pennsylvania, 8 percent of juvenile offenders were placed in detention facilities. Of those who appeared before Judges Conahan and Ciavarell, 50% were placed. Approximately 2,400 juveniles were impacted by the scam. The Pennsylvania State Judicial Board received 4 complaints Conahan between 2004 and 2008. All complaints were ignored and the Board admitted it never actually investigated any of the them. The federal government began investigating based on its own tip in 2006. In 2009, Powell and Mericle served approximately 1 year in federal prison. Judge Ciavarella was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison, while Judge Conahan was sentenced to 17.5 years. However, several of their convictions were later thrown out on appeal. They have since accepted plea deals involving 87 months (just over 7 years) in prison. The private juvenile facilities are still in operation.

Using this example in tandem with information contained in the text, describe your perspective on privatized correctional services. Under what circumstances, if any, do you believe they could be ethical, effective, and cost-efficient? Should limits be placed on the types of correctional services that can be privatized? If so, what limits?

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Privatization of Correctional Services
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Privatization of Correctional Services
The privatization of correctional services is not a good idea ethically. In the privatized
correctional faci...

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