Jennifer D. Wade Journal

Welcome to my online diary, enjoy your stay!

After months of work, the INTERBRANCH COMMISSION ON JUVENILE JUSTICE did what commissions do: It issued a sternly-worded report with various and sundry recommendations that may or may not lead to any actual changes.

State lawmakers authorized the commission to look into what went wrong with the juvenile justice system in Luzerne County, which is now known around the world as the home of the so-called "kids for cash" scandal starring former judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella.

My station sent a reporter to Harrisburg yesterday when the Commission released its FINAL REPORT (you can read the news release HERE; it includes the word "Dickensian"). The main conclusions seem to be that a) most of the blame falls on Ciavarella; b) nobody did anything to stop him; and c) Pennsylvania's juvenile court system is pretty good, but Luzerne County has single-handedly ruined it for everyone else.

The report contains several RECOMMENDATIONS to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again, at least not in Pennsylvania. Many of the recommendations involve reviewing, revising or reinforcing procedures and systems that were already in place to, you know, prevent this kind of thing. But, in case the people in the juvenile court system don't know that it's wrong to (allegedly) send kids to detention centers in exchange for kickbacks, these recommendations, once enacted, should make it really, really clear.

I guess my overall feeling about the whole report is one of "That's it?" When I looked over the reporter's script yesterday, I felt that there should have been more. I can't say that more was available. None of the affected juveniles or their parents was at the news conference; neither was anyone from the JUVENILE LAW CENTER, which did a lot of work to expose what was happening. After months and months of coverage, it all just felt rather anticlimactic.

At least there's (as of now) Conahan's official guilty plea and (as of now) Ciavarella's trial to look forward to.

Go Back

Post a Comment