The report issued Thursday by the commission that investigated Luzerne County's juvenile justice system said its corrupt practices haven't spread statewide. That's good news.
The bad news is that the corruption investigation in Luzerne County has touched every aspect of its juvenile justice system - from the judges who are accused of pocketing $2.8 million in bribes to the probation officers, defense attorneys, prosecutors and disciplinary boards who abdicated their responsibilities to thousands of children and their families.
Justice is said to have taken a back seat in the juvenile incarceration system created by former Judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark Ciavarella Jr. The former judges have been accused of conspiring with two juvenile detention centers to fill hundreds of beds at the two facilities over many years.
Because no one raised an eyebrow about how cases were handled in Luzerne compared to other places, children were separated from their families and assigned to detention centers regardless of the merits of their cases.
Many children faced the judges without legal representation. The conduct of the judges was clearly draconian. Last year, the state Supreme Court ordered 4,000 cases vacated after reports of corruption came to light.
According to the report issued by the 11-member Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, the "kids for cash" scandal is as much about official negligence and incompetence as it is about corruption. That's hardly a consolation to those directly affected by unjust incarceration.
The report also recommends statewide reforms even though Luzerne County is an isolated case. Among the changes suggested would be the requirement that all juveniles have access to defense counsel when appearing before a judge.
Oversight of judges and the Judicial Conduct Board also should be stepped up, along with ethics training for county and appellate judges. These are all recommendations the state's judicial justice system should embrace.
"Kids for cash" is one of the most shocking scandals in the history of the commonwealth. It will be a stain on Pennsylvania's justice system for years. Enacting statewide reforms is the only way to ensure that it remains a sad and isolated chapter in our history.