Tuesday, May 20 2014 1:57 PM EDT2014-05-20 17:57:57 GMT
TONIGHT WE BEGIN BY TAKING YOU INSIDE A PLACE THAT IS SUPPOSED TO HELP TROUBLED TEENS TURN THEIR LIVES AROUND. BUT AS YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE IN THIS EXCLUSIVE 19 ACTION NEWS INVESTIGATION, IT'S ANYTHINGMore >>
Monday 19 Action News took you inside a place that is supposed to help troubled teens turn their lives around.
But as you are about to find out in this exclusive investigation, it's anything but that.
The arrest of 43 members of the Heartless Felons Gang is just the start of a crackdown on violence at the Juvenile Detention Center, according to the County Prosecutors Office.
Heartless Felons is a gang started by juvenile offenders from Cuyahoga County in 2000.
On June 10, prosecutors submitted a 437-count complaint against the gang members, the Juvenile Court equivalent of an indictment.
The gangs promote unprovoked attacks against staff and other juveniles as a way to move up in the group. 19 Action News recently aired videos of many of the attacks. The videos, in part, prompted the crackdown.
"These are the worst of the worst, these are offenders who have been
given chance after chance after chance to change and have not," Chief
Juvenile Prosecutor Duane Deskins told 19 Action News. "We wanted to
send a clear message that the days of basically violence with impunity
In the past, a juvenile who committed assault was charged only with a misdemeanor, and served virtually no additional time for the crime. That will change. Now they will be charged for their gang affiliation, much like a Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations violation or RICO.
The new law will allow juveniles to be bound over to adult court where they will face years in prison rather than receive slap on the wrist after slap on the wrist.
In addition to RICO, the remaining charges span crimes including: conspiracy, robbery, extortion, simple assault, theft, kidnapping, disrupting public services, menacing, aggravated riot, aggravated menacing, intimidation, vandalism, assault on a detention officer, attempted extortion and inciting violence.
All defendants are now in custody after 13 arrest warrants were issued earlier this week.
Even before this complaint was filed, these individuals had nearly 500 prior delinquencies or pending charges on their records. They included many violent offenses, including aggravated robbery and two counts of aggravated murder.
"It is time to get the Heartless Felons out of the detention center so that young people who might benefit from a structured, safe environment have a chance to set their lives on a better path," said First Assistant County Prosecutor Duane Deskins.
To see Thursday's presentation from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors, click here.