Two judges, the CDC and Solange
Two former judges owe millions for sending children to prison.
In 2009, Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan were charged with corruption for their role in the kids-for-cash scandal. While serving as judges in Pennsylvania, the pair shut down a county-run juvenile detention center and sent thousands of children to for-profit prisons. Many children – some believed to be as young as eight – have been sent to institutions for petty offenses like theft and jaywalking. And the two judges received $2.8 million in the illegal payments of the builder and co-owner of for-profit centers. Now they have to pay for their program.
And now ?
The ruling judge said the scandal had left “indescribable physical and emotional trauma”. And ordered Ciavarella and Conahan to pay more than $200 million in total to about 300 people who participated in the civil lawsuit. But unfortunately, several of the victims who filed the case would have died by suicide or drug overdose. A representative of the victims would have called this decision a “great victory”. But lawyers for the victims say the former judges don’t have the money to pay.
After years of distress and trauma, thousands of victims do not expect to see even a fraction of the damages awarded. But the order shows that even our justice system can be held accountable.
America Post-Roe: Florida
This week, a Florida court upheld a decision prevent a 16-year-old girl from having an abortion. In Florida, children need permission from a parent or guardian to have an abortion…and can only do so before 15 weeks. In this case, the teenager (who is part of the state’s child welfare system) applied to court for an abortion when she was 10 weeks pregnant. The court recognizes that his guardian consents to the procedure. But the judge rejected the request, saying the teenager was not “mature” enough to decide on an abortion. Unless there are changes, the teen may have to carry her pregnancy to term.
That’s not the only abortion news in Florida. Yesterday the public prosecutor Andre Warren (of Tampa, FL) sued Governor Ron DeSantis (R) for his ouster. Reminder: Earlier this month, DeSantis fired the city’s democratically elected attorney over statements Warren made about gender-affirming abortion and care. Specifically, Warren promised not to prosecute people for charges related to these issues. In his lawsuit, Warren claims the firing violated his First Amendment rights. And that DeSantis allegedly broke state law by impeaching an elected official for political reasons. DeSantis has yet to respond.
PS: We track abortion access lawsuits and lawsuits across the country. Here is the latest.
What presses the reset button…
The CDC. Yesterday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced an overhaul of the nation’s top public health agency. The CDC has drawn widespread criticism over its slow and often confusing COVID-19 response (see this and this). Walensky said the CDC “did not reliably meet expectations.” And ordered a review of the agency for several months. The review found that the CDC was taking too long to release data and make decisions. And that he must work on transparency… especially since the agency is becoming critical for his treatment of monkeypox. Now, Walensky says she wants to restructure the agency’s communications office to get important information out more quickly and make advice easier to understand. She also called for additional funding and greater authority to obtain crucial data from states — which usually requires congressional approval. Walensky called the report a “watershed moment” for the agency. But others wonder how long it will take to see some changes.
What says ‘you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here’…
Airbnb. Earlier this week, the global vacation rental company said it was rolling out “anti-party” technology to prevent guests from hosting “unauthorized parties”. Airbnb – with a strong “I’m not here to make friends” energy – made the announcement as it tries to stop users from “taking advantage” of their platform. Now, to appease hosts, neighbors and annoying people everywhere, the company’s technology will identify what it calls “high-risk bookings” or “bad actors.” And will do so by reviewing the user’s previous reviews, whether the rental is on a weekend, and how long they plan to stay. Note to self: don’t pack your party pants.
Who had their day in court…
A$AP Rocky. The rapper – whose legal name is Rakim Mayers – pleaded not guilty to felony assault with a firearm yesterday. In April, the 33-year-old was stopped at LAX airport in connection with a shooting last year. He reportedly pointed a semi-automatic handgun at an old friend and fired twice. The victim was slightly injured. Mayers is scheduled to appear in court again on November 2. If found guilty, he could face up to nine years in prison.
Who makes the law…
Who is in his ballet era…
This article has been updated to include the full name of the Tampa, FL attorney.