Builder in youth detention scandal is out of federal prison

    A builder of for-profit youth detention centers who was a central figure in northeastern Pennsylvania’s “kids for cash” scandal is out of prison and in a halfway house in Philadelphia.

    The Federal Bureau of Prisons reports that Robert Mericle has left a minimum security prison in Schuylkill County, where he reported last June 2.

    He was sentenced to a year in prison for his role in the scandal. In it, thousands of young offenders were sent to for-profit youth detention facilities by a judge who, along with another judge, received $2 million in payment from Mericle’s company. Mericle’s company built the facilities.

    Prosecutors said Mericle concealed his knowledge from investigators that the $2 million had gone to the two judges. Both judges are serving lengthy prison sentences.

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