Three firms behind private juvenile detention and treatment facilities at the heart of a "kids for cash" juvenile justice scandal in northeastern Pennsylvania have settled a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million.
The settlement granted preliminary approval in federal court involves claims brought by thousands of juveniles against PA Child Care, Western PA Child Care and Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp.
Two former Luzerne County judges are serving lengthy terms in connection with the scandal, in which prosecutors said juveniles were locked away in the facilities, often for minor offenses, by judges who they said took illegal payments from the facilities' builder and co-owner.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed about 4,000 convictions issued by Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr., 61, over a five year span. They said he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea.
The two sides will now ask U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo to approve the settlement.
The judge and the facilities' former co-owner remain defendants in the lawsuit.