Video offers stunning view of New York's youth prisons

March 9, 2011 3:18:07 AM PST
There's shocking new video of what goes on behind the walls of New York's youth prisons.

Behind the barbed wire, 60 miles from the city, New York's youngest offenders live in a threatening, and at times, violent world where even the guards aren't always safe.

Eyewitness News obtained video that shows two young inmates confront and then attack a guard. He was tackled and beaten in full-view of surveillance cameras, before reinforcements burst in to break it up.

Other assaults were planned. In another video, one boy blocks the door with a chair before he and his fellow inmates take-on the guards. Critics say it happens over and over again.

"The system operates in a state of perpetual anarchy," said Michael Sussman, a civil rights attorney.

Attorney Michael Sussman represents Eileen Carpenter, a former corrections staffer who obtained the video while investigating conditions at the state's juvenile detention facilities known as Brookwood, Goshen, Industry and MacCormick.

The residents there are as young as 14-years-old.

In another case, one resident was attacked from behind. Others, by gangs of boys. An elderly teacher was knocked to the floor when a fight broke out.

But Ms. Carpenter claims she was dismissed by the state for revealing the very conditions she was ordered to investigate.

"There really are some kids doing well," Carpenter said.

The Commission of Correction " monitoring the youth facilities on a continual basis," a spokesman claimed, "and is actively working with the Office of Children and Family Services to ensure that those facilities are safe and secure places to live and to work."

Late Tuesday, Eileen Carpenter and her attorney got a phone call from the state inspector general, offering to meet with them on Wednesday afternoon.

It's what they hope will be the first step toward fixing a system that they insist is failing the staff and the residents it is intended to protect.

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