Recently the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the conviction and sentence of a Luzerne County, PA Court of Common Pleas Judge in the “Kids for Cash” scandal. His sentence was 28 years behind bars. The “Kids for Cash” scandal came about when a few Judges in Luzerne County were accused and convicted of giving out harsh detention sentences to juvenile criminal offenders in order to increase the population at contracted detention facilities. The allegation was that the judges in question would then receive cash kick backs from those facilities.
To some, 28 years behind bars may seem like a harsh sentence for someone who had no prior criminal record but to others the sentence may not have been harsh enough. Judges should not be punished more severely just because they are a judge but this situation warranted a severe sentence because the judge used his position as a judge to commit the crime.
When judges use their position as a judge to commit illegal activity it destroys the public’s trust in the criminal justice system. If the people start to believe that judges are corrupt and can be compromised then the people will cease submitting themselves to the will of authority. We have to remember that laws are only as strong as the public’s willingness to submit to them. The government is only as strong as the public allows it to be. We, the people, agree to be governed. If the population as a whole started to believe that the government or their institutions were corrupted, then the population would no longer agree to be governed and there could be but one conclusion. Anarchy.
For those reasons, anytime there is corruption or criminal activity involving an institution that is fundamental to our continued society, leniency and mercy from the courts should be hard to come by. The courts will feel the need to send a message that abuse of power that undermines the entire system cannot and will not be tolerated.