Calif. Inmate Beating On Tape

Beating at youth detention facility.
A videotape of a California inmate beating was shown Thursday in public for the first time. It's an incident some claim is symptomatic of a youth correctional system in deep trouble, reports CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen.


shows two guards fighting with two inmates as they stagger out of an office and into a common area at a northern California youth correctional facility in late January.

A third guard joins in to spray pepper spray as the action moves to the right of the screen.

And though both inmates appear to be quickly subdued, one guard continues to pummel the inmate beneath him.

In fact, investigators say guard Delwin Brown hit 21-year-old Narciso Morales a total of 28 times.

And after Brown was done, yet another guard fired a pepperball at the downed inmate, who was offering no resistance.

The guards claimed it was self defense. But an internal investigation concluded the guards used excessive force and then lied, putting the blame on the inmates, who are known as wards.

"If it hadn't been for the videotape, these wards would have probably been prosecuted and nobody would have thought otherwise," said Don Spector, with the prison law office.

The incident followed by one day the suicides of two teenage inmates at another youth facility and prompted new criticism that young people in custody in California are made worse, not better, because punishment too often replaces rehabilitation.

The video was released to pressure California's attorney general to prosecute the guards. Local authorities said they couldn't prove a crime occurred after all the guards involved claimed their 5th amendment rights.

The guard's union says the tape shows only one side of the story and was released to "generate sensational headlines" to an unknowing public.

"I don't think they understand the level of violence we deal with every day -- the stress," said Dave Darchuk, with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

California's new Youth Authority director says what the tape shows is unacceptable.

"We're not going to tolerate that type of behavior and we're going to hold people that perform in that level or act in that matter to the highest level of accountability," says director Walter Allen.

The mother of the second inmate involved says something needs to be done.

"I wouldn't wish it on nobody, or no parent -- I hope that nobody has to go through that," said Lori Baker.

California's Attorney General is still deciding whether to take the case.

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