tv Lockup Pendleton MSNBC November 20, 2011 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. >> america's prisons. dangerous. often deadly. there are 2 million people doing time every day. it's a battle to survive and to maintain order. >> down on your feet, down. >> pendleton juvenile is the last stop in indiana for young offenders who committed serious crimes. we spent months inside where the staff is determined to rehabilitate impulsive teens who are often angry and violent. this is "lockup: pendleton juvenile, extended stay." on any given day, inside the razor wire fences of pendleton
juvenile correctional facility, anything can happen. >> stop! stop! turn around. >> during our six months inside, we learned some days can be more chaotic than most. >> control to all units and shift supervisors. >> caught him signal 2000, which is an attempted escape. going to run for it. told the sergeant he was going to run and took off out of the unit. >> i think by 7:30 in the morning, we had a signal jam meaning officer needs assistance. we've had two signal 2000s, which are escaped. >> turn around. turn around. get on your knees.
get on your knees. put your hands behind your head. stay like that until we exit the cell. >> it was a half hearted attempt. he gave them a little struggle and they brought him here. he acts relieved now that he is here. as a matter of fact, i believe it's his second time trying to escape in the last two weeks because he's having such a problem getting acclimated with the other offenders out there. >> i already got in trouble with the board. i was just mad, so i just -- the officers here. the officers, they be getting on my nerves. i guess i got fed up. i don't listen to them no more. >> did you have anger before you came here and got locked up? >> yes. family problems and all. there's anger right there.
so -- i ain't going nowhere. >> yesterday, we had about eight slots that weren't full. since last night, about 9:30 when we brought another young offender in here, it went full tilt. we went from 17 to 24. we are now full. it's just one of those days, when it rains, we don't have enough buckets. >> just two cell doors down from this teenage flight risk is 18-year-old kenneth howell. >> trying to find some way of getting out. >> howell made his first move to scale the pendleton fences at the crack of dawn. >> almost made it over that time. it wouldn't have been my first time.
i cut myself before. i'm used to so much pain from early on in my childhood, it's just a small scratch compared. i can have a gouge from here down to here. i'll just look at it like wow. >> as one of the largest maximum security juvenile prisons in the country, pendleton are responsible for educating and rehabilitating teenage gang members, sex offenders, and juveniles with mental health issues for the indiana department of corrections. >> in our jurisdiction, in our state, the department of corrections became a solution to a very aggressive, difficult child to handle. truly those kids that are seen as public threats. >> i spent from age 10 to 12 in state hospitals for mental problems. i got locked up at age 13. from there, i messed up by
getting in a fight at school while i was at placement. it got me terminated from there. threatened my case worker. they kicked me out for that, and now i'm here. been here for the past three years. >> the number one issue offenders approach me on on a daily basis has to do with placements. it could be to do with their history and behavior, they have been in community placements before and kicked out. it's frustrating from my perspective. >> they can't find a placement for you? >> my mental history from the past, no placement will accept me now. >> finding placements for offenders isn't the only challenge staff members face. director mia black has to deal with a different set of issues
in "d" complex. >> all of the offenders in the unit are low functioning through education or behavior. a lot of the kids are so used to beating up someone or cussing out someone to prove a point instead of simply talking and discussing their issues. they were raised to be that way. i try to get them to get into that mind set. >> most of the teens who arrive at pendleton bring a mindset of their own. 18-year-old edgar muniz has been locked up for 14 months. today he found out he won't be promoted to the next level. >> i'm in level one. she know i was in there before. >> i'll let her know you need to talk to her. >> yeah.
>> what's wrong? >> level one. >> don't worry. i'll talk to sawyer and see what he has to say and we'll go from there. okay. stay in here, cool down for a bit. >> okay. >> instead of running from the problems, they need to face them and address them, but in an effective way. >> coming up on "lockup: pendleton juvenile," has that gang member really reformed? >> how do you deal with your gang affiliation when you leave here? >> ignore them and go to school. >> you think that's going to work? >> hopefully. >> did it work last time? oh, actually... then i'd be like, you rule! and my kids would be like, you rule! i'd be like, yes, i do rule! ohh! that rules! oh, load up the sleigh; this is going to be a great christmas. yeah. ring dinga-ding, ring dinga-ding, ring, ring, ring me up.
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staff, today brings tension of a different kind. for 18-year-old andrew huff and abel, review hearings to determine if they will be released from prison. >> i got an arson, breaking and entering, and resisting arrest, and i got probation violation for threatening to kill three girls. >> i'm nervous because this determines whether i go home or not. then again, i'm confident i'm going to go home because i haven't been in trouble in a long time. i got future plans to go to college and play football. i got my ged, so hopefully i'll make it. >> the review committee is an opportunity for the offender to come before a panel, like a parole board, and convince us as a board that he's changed and made a difference and he deserves an opportunity for release.
>> before getting locked up he was in a gang known for aligning themselves with the mexican mafia. >> it was kind of fun to me because back in the day, i loved violence when i was little. i never had a father, so that's probably where i didn't have enough discipline. i love fighting. that's just me. >> gangs weren't a problem for andrew huff. anger was. >> it's like when you're building up stress, it's like a bomb exploding. as soon as somebody gets you to a point, you explode. i fall down in tears and realize what you done was wrong. >> we don't ever want to send somebody back into the community that we don't feel can be successful. that's the ultimate goal. sometimes we're successful, and other times we just fail. >> andrew, are you ready? >> yeah. >> you're nervous?
>> why don't you go ahead and talk to us about why you're in prison. >> i'm here for arson, breaking and entering, theft, and resisting arrest and probation violation. >> relax, okay? >> what we're doing here today is all about you. you said that you have anger issues that boil up inside of you. and that's what happened. that's what happened in the community. that's why you set a fire. that's why you threatened those girls. you need to convince us that you have got a handle on that and you understand what it is that boils up inside of you and causes you to want to be so angry you might hurt somebody. look at us, think about it, and remember that we have confidence that you have got the answer.
>> i let anger build up inside me so much before i let it out. stress, plus lately i've been trying to go home, and i've been getting frustrated ever since. i think about my family. my mom wants me home. my nieces and nephew need me. i want to help them. i have little brothers and sisters aiming for it. i can't let them see i'm the same person. i have to change. >> while his marathon interview continues, abel watches from his holding cell just steps away. his turn is just around the corner. >> i just want them to know, i need to go home and take care of my family, my little brother and i want to go to college and play football.
hopefully that will encourage them to release me. >> it's something we all take quite seriously, and we hope we have done everything we can to influence that particular juvenile in a positive direction so he can return back to the family and the community and make a positive difference. that's essentially what everybody is here for. >> i do have one question. what changed in november? up until november, you got two, three, four conduct reports every month, every month, just like clockwork. what changed? >> the fact that i was tired of being here. i have grown up. i said it's time to go. my thinking, the way i did things, that's what changed. i did a lot more thinking after i did all that and i finally
came up with a solution. >> he probably came up with the right solution. now your problem is going to be you have to think before you act. >> yes, sir. >> while the review committee considers his release from pendleton, in the segregation unit, 18-year-old inmate marcus branch is facing the possibility of spending several more years behind bars. >> i'll probably end up going to court from here. they said i could face 20 years in prison for what i did. what happened was, this staff member was kind of big and stuff like that. he always talked like crazy to me. i forget what he said, but basically, i was like, you know, [ bleep ] your family. he said [ bleep ] your family. i don't know, i always wanted to
fight him. but, i got like swinging on him and stuff. i thought he was going to swing back, but he didn't. i kept on swinging on him. >> most of the offenders here are very loud. put themselves out there and they try to act really rough and tough and try to sound it. he's really quiet and can snap in a moment. >> hit the ground. i was thinking i'll show him mercy. so i left him alone. >> we talked about that with the staff a lot. i call it a kind of total awareness thing that they have to constantly pay attention to everything that's going on at every given moment, because you just never know where those outbursts are going to come from. >> i'm going to get you out in just a minute. >> while marcus branch sits in seg, calculating his fate, across the compound the future of abel lies in the hands of the review committee.
>> i'm not afraid of no question. i'm just afraid of them saying no, but i don't know. i'm going to make it, i know i'll make it. >> you ready? >> yes, sir. >> why are you here? >> violation of parole. i violated -- i had a pistol while i was on parole. >> how long were you out when that happened? >> about a month. >> talk to me about your std ties. >> well, i was tagging stuff up like my coats and my shoes, my shower shoes, and a blue chair in gp. i had tagged it up, so i got wrote up for it and they sent me over here for it. >> by tagging it up, you were destroying the property by writing gang graffiti on it? >> what gang are you affiliated with? how do you deal with your gang
affiliation once you leave here? >> i'm going to ignore them and go to school. >> you think ignoring them is going to work? >> hopefully. >> did it work last time? >> no, last time, i didn't have future plans. i got out, i didn't have my ged. i didn't have no future plans. now i do. i got an education. i got my ged. i'm going to go to college and play football. >> what was your intent with the gun? why did you have it? >> protection. >> from? >> other gang members. >> let me ask you this -- if i sent one of my sergeants to shake your room down right now and your release was dependent on whether or not there was stg material in your room, are you leaving or not?
>> coming up on "lockup, pendleton juvenile." >> you were just talking about your victims, you were smiling. why were you smiling? >> tension-filled hours for andrew and abel. there's no guarantee either will go home. later, we find out what happened to the officer marcus branch attacked. on november 26th you can make a huge impact by shopping small on small business saturday. one purchase. one purchase is all it takes. so, pick your favorite local business... and join the movement. i pledge to shop small at big top candy shop. allen's boots... at juno baby store. make the pledge to shop small. please. shop small on small business saturday.
it takes a unique set of skills to work with the teen offenders inside pendleton juvenile. >> keys. >> "d" complex presents some of the prison's biggest challenges for program director mia black. >> is it frustrating? absolutely. is it rewarding? absolutely. i've had offenders that you want to shake and say snap out of it, grow up, you need to go home, and they just don't grasp it. i have had a lot of success stories. so although the rewards can be
few and far between, when you see them, it gives you a purpose to be here. what's up you guys? >> it's up to mia to dissect the issues between edgar muniz's meltdown. he's had trouble passing the five levels for release. earlier in the day, he was told he was back to level one. >> i'm on level one. >> don't cry. don't cry. don't cry. why are you crying? >> cause i talked to my mom and sawyer, he told my mom i was going to get out probably in four weeks. >> don't cry. don't cry. hold on. i'm going to make my best effort to get kids to trust me and
believe that you are here for them. >> i haven't seen my mom for one year and two months. i write letters to my mom. i want to see my mom. >> they are so used to nobody caring. i want to show them that i care, i want to be there for you. here is what we are going to do. >> my family is in mexico. i got in america only my mom, my sister, and my grandpa and me. i was in level three. she told me i was going to make level four. i was being good. she told my mom i'm in level four. he don't really care about what he said. >> he cares. he cares. he cares because nobody knows you guys like mr. sawyer.
he's here with you guys all day every day in those units. let me see what he has to say and we'll go from there. okay? stay in here, cool out for a little bit, but don't worry. all right. >> you're saying he's a level two and he's thinking -- >> he is now for sure. >> ewe hit -- unit reports were good. what did you do, demote him or continue him? >> mia and the counselor find a solution for edgar. they compromise and place him on level three. back in his unit, he seems satisfied with the outcome. >> you have to believe that you are making a change. you may not see it today, you may not see it tomorrow, but somewhere along the line you have made a change or a
difference in somebody's life. >> even when a teen is close to getting out of pendleton, there's rarely lack of drama inside the walls. 18-year-old andrew huff has been locked up 14 months. today, he is facing one of the biggest days of his life. his release interview. >> what's different with you, personally, that's going to keep you focused and keep you from getting angry when you are out of this environment? >> i learned to talk to people. once my anger comes up, i have to go to time out or walk away from that, talk to them in person or talk to somebody else. >> who have you hurt through all of this?
>> my mother, my little sister. my nieces and nephews. >> that's it? was it an apartment that you burned down? >> the arson, yeah. >> what about the people impacted by that? coming up -- will andrew huff convince the review committee he's realized the error of his ways? and the pressure is on for abel villegas. >> are you remorseful for the things that you did? >> and -- >> they say you have a broken jaw and a broken eye socket. >> a conversation with the victim of marcus branch's attack. is this a chevy volt? [ stu ] yeah. it's electric. i don't think so. it's got a gas tank right here. electric tank, right over here. an electric tank? really, stu? is that what you pour the electricity in? it's actually both, guys. i can plug in and go 35 miles gas free,
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>> inmates in pendleton juvenile correction facility participate in a five-step program of rehabilitation. then they have to prove to the committee they have ready to be released. today, the burden falls on andrew huff. >> was it an apartment you burned down? >> in the arson, yes. >> what about all the people that were impacted by that? >> it was an apartment. >> it was an abandoned building? what about the place that you burglarized? how do you think it made him
feel for you to go in and burglarize his place of business? >> probably upset him. and probably made him mad. >> what about the three people you threatened to hurt? kill, was it? who were they? >> one was my ex, one was my brother's ex, and one was my cousin's ex. >> do you think they were impacted by that at all? >> i don't know. i know one of them was. >> how were they impacted? >> upset, scared, worried. >> how do you feel about that? >> i feel bad for what i done. but, i know i can't change it,
so -- but, i think that it would help to apologize to them and make things right with them. make them not be scared of me no more. >> it's up to you to make a difference. you need to recognize the fact that you victimized people and the things you have done hurt people, and you need to make some reparations for that. okay? >> yes, sir. >> andrew, right now, i am very proud of you. do you know why? because you have been honest with us. because you have spoken from the heart, and because there's no doubt in my mind that you mean what you are saying right now. the real key for your future and those people you really care about is whether or not you can keep that honesty and sincerity right out in front of you as you
walk out this door. >> before i got here, when i was locked up before, i made a plan before i was released that i was going to try to help others. i got locked up and realized i didn't do much of anything. i made things worse. that's what i want to continue to do when i go home. >> okay. at this time we'll ask for a vote of the committee on the recommendation of promotion of andrew to a release date. >> i agree. >> i support also. >> i do, too. >> i agree. >> i support it. >> congratulations, you're promoted to release. >> don't forget everything you learned. >> you're free now. >> thank you. i'm a little shocked. i know it could have gotten denied. i'm impressed.
>> andrew huff is lucky. he's on his way home. but cell mate abel might not be so fortunate. >> good that he made it. he needs to go home. we all do. >> while andrew huff celebrates his victory, many at pendleton are still looking down a long road to release. >> get your hands back. listen to what i'm telling you. get your hands back. >> offender marcus branch may end up in adult prison for his violent attack on an officer. >> i always wanted to fight him. i got to like swinging on him and stuff. i thought he was going to swing back, but he didn't. so i kept on swinging on him. then, he hit the ground and i was thinking about his face, then i said no, i'll show him mercy. so, i left him alone. >> how did you feel after? >> i felt bad because he didn't swing back.
so i kind of felt bad for beating him up, yeah. >> do you know what happened to him? >> they say he got a broken jaw and a broken eye socket. they say i could face 6 to 20 years in prison for what i did. i'm a little nervous to go to prison. but, like, if i have to do it, that's something i have to deal with. >> the reality is funny for him. i don't think he understands everything he does. he's one you really, really have to worry about. >> which led us to think about the officer branch attacked, the one branch said was a tough guy. as it turned out, marcus branch beat up a woman. >> i'm not sure exactly what all happened. it was time for dining hall. i informed the kids it's dime for dining hall. get your coats and shoes on.
walked up to shut the tv off. one of the inmates blind-sided me, hit me in the face. next thing i know, i'm picking myself up off the floor about five feet away. >> the spontaneity of incidents like that, and they tend to come from nowhere. i think it goes back to the core of the person and they have no hope. they truly believe with the soul of every fiber of their being is that their future is to end up in an adult facility. >> the average length of stay is one year for teens inside the walls of pendleton juvenile correctional facility. abel has been here for ten months. today is his shot to convince the release committee he's ready to go home. >> we review their packet, and we know that they're essentially eligible to come to the release committee for review, but we
don't ever talk about it in advance. you had how many counts of battery? >> four. >> what were the batteries about? >> racism. >> racism? tell me what that means. >> when i was going to school, when i just came up here, there were a bunch of kids calling me names, so back in the day, i would react to any stupid stuff. somebody call me a name, i would react and start fighting right away. >> that's how i mostly got all my batteries from, people calling me names. >> was any of that gang related? >> no, sir. >> talk to me about your victims. >> victims? they were rivalry gang members, so we don't get along with them for certain reasons. >> you just told me a few minutes ago that those were not gang related.
>> what victims are you talking about? >> any. >> any? well come gang members and some were racist. >> probably the number one thing i'm looking for is sincerity, that they truly have reflected on what they have done and harm they cased to victims, to the community. >> when you were just talking about your victims, you were smiling. why were you smiling? >> cause, i don't know if i -- i didn't get the question. like victims? i didn't know what victims he was talking about. >> do you know what the word victim is? do you know what we're talking about? the people that you've hurt. okay? so, do you think about that? are you remorseful for the things you did? >> no.
>> do you feel bad for what you did? >> no, because of what they were doing to me. they were hurting me, so i felt that i had to to hurt them, too. >> are you going to continue with your gang involvement once you leave the facility? >> no, ma'am. >> i don't believe that. i don't believe that you can walk out these doors and not have any more ties with your gang. i don't even believe that you don't want to have contact with your gang. >> let me ask you this, if i sent one of my sergeants to shake your room down right now and your release was dependent on whether there was stg material in your room, are you leaving or not? >> yes, sir. i had a folder that had stg material, but i marked it off with a marker. other than that i don't have -- >> they told you to do it? you didn't choose to do it? >> why don't you have a seat for
me. >> abel will have to sweat out the decision of the review committee, waiting in a holding cell. coming up, on pendleton juvenile. >> why? what was going on in his head when he did it? >> judgment day for abel. >> i guarantee you he will walk out of this facility and the first thing he's going to do is go back to meet up with his gang buddies. embarrassed about my skin.
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>> the number one thing i'm looking for is sincerity. >> while staff debate if he's ready for life on the outside, his counselor weighs in before the final decision is made. >> i've talked to him quite extensively for the last couple days, he seemed fine to me. we talked about changing behavior because there will be a lot of temptation when he's released. >> i'm kind of mad because i don't think i'm going to make it because they said i'm not ready to go home. >> he's not remorseful. he doesn't understand that concept whatsoever. i don't believe for a second that he is done with the gang. i don't believe that for any -- with any fiber of my being. i guarantee, he will walk out of this facility and the first thing he's going to do is go
back and meet up with his gang buddies, guaranteed. >> i was just being honest. every time i answered, i was just being honest. >> my biggest concern is the lack of remorse for victims. he refused to advance him anywhere until he makes headway in that regard. >> yeah. >> okay. at this point, we are going to send you back and get you to refocus on some other issues, primarily victim empathy, victim impact programming. i said it before and i'll say it again, i don't believe for a second you had any commitment to not being involved in your gang anymore.
because of that, my decision is no, you're not going to be advanced at this point in time, and you've got some work to do. >> do you have any questions? >> okay? okay. >> i'll walk him back. >> he definitely has no concern whatsoever about any of his victims. it was clear, just through his interactions and talking with him there and making him discuss his gang related ties and things like that, he is a clear example of the type of juveniles and kids and offenders that we struggle with every day.
>> i know you're upset. okay. we're going to help you. we'll bring in a mentor and work together and sit down, one-on-one, okay? we'll talk more when we get back okay? >> it's a chance we take, too. some kids are ready to go and, you know, we have to make that determination that they are ready or not ready. >> today? >> he wasn't ready. >> as abel looks at least another month behind bars, marcus branch wonders if beating up officer linda smock will get him waived to adult court. >> okay, i am a little nervous to go to prison, but, if i had to do it, then that's something i have to deal with.
>> there was no indication it was coming. it was an explosion of violence that came from nowhere. it's typical with a juvenile facility. >> he just snapped. rumor had it he was mad at another kid, and i was in the way. he hit the side of my face. next thick i know, i'm on the floor. the kids pulled him off me. the staff got there to help lock everybody down. i went to the e.r. ended up with the white part of my right eye cut and my jaw was sprung. and he actually walked up to the sergeant when he walked in the unit and put his hands behind him and said, i did it. i don't know why i did it, but i did it. >> despite the aggressive outbursts common with juveniles, superintendent mike dempsey is still required to educate and rehabilitate all teens behind bars. pendleton, dempsey got rid of long term seg in favor of a short-term segregation policy.
>> in some cases, you have to segregate an offender in the best interests of everybody else, to keep people safe and keep people from getting hurt. you have to find a balance between keeping people safe, yet also finding a way to offer treatment programs that will make a difference to turn that particular kid around. what are the options out there? what new ideas and creative programming can we come up with? you have to think outside the box and take risks, unfortunately. >> coming up, abel villegas struggles to come to grips with more time behind bars. >> it makes you miss your family a lot. you don't have that much freedom in here. you have people telling when you to eat, when to go to the restroom, when to sleep. it is not right. it is not nice. ♪
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abel villegas came face to face with superintendent mike dempsey and the pendleton release committee to prove he was ready to go home. >> you need to be truly committed to do away with those gang affiliations that you have. i don't believe that you're anywhere near that. >> unfortunately for him, though, they weren't convinced. >> when it comes to looking at harm you caused to others and your victims, it seriously concerns me. >> it's like parole board for juveniles, and so it's a high stakes process where the juvenile offender has to convince the board thatter ready to go back into society. that they've completed their program and that they've learned something that they can use when they leave. >> they have absolutely no empathy in regards to them that
i can detect. even in the most minute trace, there isn't any. >> and as you saw, as we went through that, there were some concerns. >> back in his unit villegas contemplates another month at pendleton. >> it makes you miss your family a lot and you just -- you don't have that much freedom in here. you always -- you have people telling you when to eat, when to go to the rest room, when to sleep. just -- it's not right. it's not nice. >> across the compound in segregation, marcus branch's future lies in the hands of a county prosecutor. >> for the most part, all of them are good kids. they've got their problems but for the most part i think that
they're all good kids. only thing i can say is watch who is behind you. >> on the day he snapped, branch was only two weeks away from being released. we tried to find out why he would risk everything when freedom was so close. >> like, i kind of blame it on the neighborhood i was raised in. i can't really blame it on my family. i have to say where i'm from, the neighborhood. >> so if somebody let you out of here, put you in a great neighborhood and big house, gave you a job, do you think that would keep you on the straight and narrow? if it was all handed to you tomorrow, could you stay on the straight and narrow? >> it would be hard because i'm just so used to doing the same things i did. come back here and, like, i don't know. it would be hard. i don't think i could.
>> it's been four weeks since abel got the bad news he wasn't being released from pendleton. since then he's been spending time in his cell pod working with a mentor and getting one-on-one counseling. >> i was born on my grandma's birthday. so i'm grandma's boy. so i've lived with her most of my life. i'll go back out, help her out. just do good. stop giving her problems and stuff. >> the hard work has paid off. later today he'll finally see freedom and be released to his grandparents. >> for every juvenile delinquent that you see in the newspapers who's done some horrendous thing, there are ten more who learn from the system and went back out to be good adults as