Chances are, you saw the news that two judges in Pennsylvania pleaded guilty last week to charges that for five years, they funnelled teens into detention in exchange for $2.6 million in kickbacks. This, after they'd worked to get the county-run detention center shut down in 2002. An estimated 5,000 juveniles who appeared in court were victimized this way; many for behavior that should never have landed them in court in the first place. A class-action lawsuit brought by the Juvenile Law Center is in the offing, and possibly -- hopefully -- charges against those running the private detention centers.
This is appalling news. But it's also unusual. Juvenile court judges deserve the trust we place in them; they have a difficult job, trying to use the power of the court to help young people turn their lives around.
What can more fortunate jurisdictions, then, learn from this story? I came away thinking about two things: