news·4 min read

Daily Skimm: Two Judges, The CDC, and Solange

Exterior columns, Robert J. Nealon Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, Scranton, Pennsylvania
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Aug 18, 2022

Kids-for-Cash

The Story

Two former judges owe millions for sending kids to jail.

Wait, what?

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 two shut down a county-run juvenile detention center and sent thousands of children to for-profit jails instead. Many of the children — some reportedly as young as eight — were sent to the facilities for minor crimes like theft and jaywalking. And the two judges received $2.8 million in illegal payments from the builder and co-owner of the for-profit centers. Now, they’re having to pay up for their scheme.

So what now?

The ruling judge said the scandal left “unspeakable physical and emotional trauma.” And ordered Ciavarella and Conahan to pay more than $200 million total to about 300 people who participated in the civil lawsuit. But unfortunately several of the victims who filed have reportedly died by suicide or from drug overdoses. A rep for the victims reportedly called the decision a “huge victory.” But the victims' lawyers believe the former judges don’t have the money to pay up.

theSkimm

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 stopping a 16-year-old from getting an abortion. In Florida, kids need permission from a parent or guardian to get an abortion...and can only do so before 15 weeks. In this case, the teen (who’s part of the state’s child welfare system) filed with the court to get an abortion when she was 10 weeks pregnant. The court acknowledges that her guardian consents to the procedure. But the judge denied the request, saying the teen isn’t “mature” enough to decide on abortion. Barring any changes, the teen might have to carry the pregnancy to term.

This isn’t the only abortion news out of Florida. Yesterday, state attorney Andrew Warren (from Tampa, FL) sued Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) over his ousting. Reminder: Earlier this month, DeSantis fired the city’s democratically elected prosecutor over statements Warren had made about abortion and gender-affirming care. Specifically, Warren promised not to prosecute people for charges related to those issues. In his lawsuit, Warren says the firing violated his First Amendment rights. And that DeSantis reportedly broke state law by removing an elected official for political reasons. DeSantis has yet to respond.

PS: We're tracking the lawsuits and legal action around abortion access across the country. Here's the latest.

And Also...This

What’s hitting 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 that the CDC “did not reliably meet expectations.” And ordered a months-long review of the agency. The review found that the CDC took too long to publish data and make decisions. And that it needs to work on transparency...especially as the agency is getting criticized for its handling of monkeypox. Now, Walensky says she wants to restructure the agency’s communications office in order to get important info out faster and make guidance easier to understand. She also called for additional funding and greater authority over getting crucial data from states — something that usually needs 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’s saying ‘you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here’...

Airbnb. Earlier this week, the global vacation rental company said it’s rolling out “anti-party” tech to prevent guests from throwing “unauthorized parties.” Airbnb — giving off strong ‘I'm not here to make friends’ energy — made the announcement as it tries to prevent users from “taking advantage” of their platform. Now, to appease hosts, neighbors, and boring people everywhere, the company’s tech will identify what it calls “high-risk reservations” or “bad actors.” And will do that by looking into the user’s previous reviews, if the rental is happening on a weekend, and how long they plan to stay. Note to self: don’t pack your party pants.

Who had his day in court...

A$AP Rocky. Yesterday, the rapper — whose legal name is Rakim Mayers — pleaded not guilty to felony assault with a firearm charges. In April, the 33-year-old was arrested at LAX Airport in connection to a shooting last year. He allegedly pointed a semi-automatic handgun toward a former friend and fired twice. The victim suffered a minor injury. Mayers is expected to appear again in court on Nov 2. If found guilty, he could face up to nine years in prison.

Who’s laying down the law…

She-Hulk.

Who's in her ballet era…

Solange.

This article has been updated to include the Tampa, FL prosecutor's full name.

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