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Aryan Brotherhood's Violent Legacy?; Prison Escape; Owning a Gun; Educators Booked in Cheating Scandal; Grads Suing Law Schools

Aired April 2, 2013 - 11:30   ET



DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And its reach began to extend outside the prison walls as more members served out their sentences. ABT members on parole are required not only to remain loyal to the gang but also to recruit new members.

LANNY BREUER, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Brutal beatings, firebombs, drug trafficking and murder are all part of ABT's alleged standard operating procedures.

FEYERICK: Last November 34 alleged members of the ABT were indicted on federal racketeering charges, more than half of the alleged gang members were operating outside of prison.

MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, as one can well imagine from the name, absolutely has a white supremacist ideology. But the bottom line is that at the end of the day, these organizations are really fundamentally criminal enterprises. That means above all their interest is in green, in money. Skin color comes long after that.

FEYERICK: Prosecutors say there 2,000 ABT members in Texas, 2,000 members who have pledged to unconditionally follow the orders of their gang leaders. Orders that authorities say include violence and murder.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And our thanks to Deb for that story. By the way, that is just part of the story. Up next, I'm going to talk with a former Texas prison warden who has his own history with the Aryan Brotherhood.


BANFIELD: This just in to our NEWSROOM. Two inmates escaped from jail in Texas this morning. Apparently by scaling the recreation yard fence. And one of those inmates was awaiting trial having been indicted on charges of capital murder.

The Sheriff's Office in Hopkins County, Texas, says they're on the lookout for Brian Alan Tucker and John Marlon King. Just as a precaution at this point, the schools in that area are on lockdown right now. Officials there are saying they're not sure if these inmates are on foot or if they're in a car. But they know one thing, that they are considered extremely dangerous.

We'll keep watching that story for you and let you know when we get an update. But still in Texas and back to the Kaufman County investigations into the death of the district attorney and his wife there, officials are looking into the possible involvement of a violent gang. You heard about them, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

After the arrest of 34 members in November they vowed retaliation against any justice officials who were involved. That happened to involve even in a small way Kaufman County.

Joining me now on the phone is Terry Pelz, a former Texas warden, prison warden, and now a prison consultant.

Thanks so much for joining me on this very distressing topic. I wanted to get your background with the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. We heard the Southern Poverty Law Center saying they don't get any more dangerous than this. It's the most violent gang. But are they as violent outside the prisons as they are inside, or do we even know that yet?

TERRY PELZ, FORMER TEXAS WARDEN, CRIMINAL JUSTICE CONSULTING: Well, having studied them for 30 years, they are a violent prison gang. I would probably dispute that they're the most violent prison gang in the United States. There's a lot of research that showed that others are more violent, but in regard to the ABT, they carry out their criminal enterprise in a violent way.

BANFIELD: And the criminal enterprise, as Deb Feyerick was reporting, has a lot to do with money. You know, people might think that it has to do with race, but more money. Does that square with your experiences with these members?

PELZ: Well, when gangs form in our prisons, they form along with ideological lines of racism. But they all evolve into the -- to the economy of the prison. And also -- excuse me -- when they hit the streets, they involve in criminal enterprises.

BANFIELD: And I've heard that there has been a nationwide effort for quite some time to continue a process of segregating these prisoners. And not so much segregating them together in the prisons but segregating them apart, moving them around as much as possible so that a network is more difficult to establish. Did you -- were you involved in that, as well?

PELZ: Yes, we were. And that can be a double-edged sword sometimes. When you move people around, you kind of -- you can tend to strengthen them. That's how Texas prisons operate. They do segregate the hard core gang members. The more disruptive groups such as the Texas Seneca and Mexican Mafia, Aryan Circle and the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

BANFIELD: Mr. Pelz, what was your initial reaction when you heard, not only about the first killing of the assistant D.A. but then the secondary follow-up to the D.A. himself and his wife? Did you immediately think, I think know who's behind this, or are you more suspect of this theory?

PELZ: I'm more suspect of the theory of the Aryan Brotherhood being involved directly or indirectly because that's not their style. They may threaten officials, that's part of their dogma. They're more involved in the -- in the criminal enterprise of making money. This would be a giant leap for them to kill public officials.

In my study of them for 30 years, this is not what they do. There's some grumblings going on amongst the ABT community right now saying we had nothing to do with this. And I tend to think that's probably true. I think the cartels were more involved to come in like thieves in the night and do their business.

I think there may have been some disruption of a meth package or meth shipments being interrupted going to Mexico. This doesn't pan out to be the type of activity the Aryan Brotherhood does.

BANFIELD: Well, I do appreciate your expertise on this topic. And perhaps we'll have a chance to talk at length as the investigation continues.

Terry Pelz, thank you, thank you very much for that.

I want to go back to the story we had just brought you about those two inmates who escaped from a jail in Texas this morning. One of them indicted and awaiting trial on charges of capital murder.

These are live pictures. And I'm just going to see presumably of the rec yard. The concern was that they had escaped from the rec yard, scaling one of the walls. You can see the larger area. Obviously that officials are going to be trying to cover at this point with a rail line nearby. Always a concern, as well. And a major artery of traffic, as well.

But you can from the helicopter shot courtesy of KTVT, one of the areas of Hopkins County where sheriff's deputies and presumably now a wider array of officials are going to have to work pretty darn hard to try to find these.

I cannot tell you what this concentration of vehicles is right now. We can tell you obviously from uniforms that it's law enforcement. But those are the two gentlemen on the right side of your screen whom are the targets of a search underway right now at the -- Hopkins County Sheriff's Office. Brian Alan Tucker and John Marlon King.

And as we mentioned before, because of the concern about the danger of these inmates -- they are considered to be very dangerous -- schools in nine areas, nine different schools are now ON lockdown. And there's no knowledge about how they got away. Whether it was on foot, which means they may not be far, or by car or rail, which may mean that they are quite a long way away.

We'll continue to watch that story. But again, live pictures for you in Hopkins County as law enforcement continues to patrol and scour for those two escaped inmates.

There has been so much talk about lately regarding banning guns but a town in Georgia, they got a whole different plan and it ain't about the ban. Wait until you hear about the law they just passed.


BANFIELD: Well, lawmakers in Washington and far beyond look at ways to further regulate gun ownership, there's a town in Georgia mandating guns for everyone. Last night the city council in Nelson, about 50 miles north of Atlanta, gave final approval to an ordinance that's modeled on a 30-year-old law in another Georgia town. And it reads as follows, I'll quote, "Every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm together with ammunition therefore."

There are exceptions to this rule in case you're wondering. For felons, probably a good exception. The mentally ill as well are exempted. The physically infirm and then of course there is the exception for people who just don't want to comply.

That's fascinating. Police say they aren't intending to go door to door for gun checks either. So what do you suppose the point of all of this would be? City council says deterrence.


EDITH PORTILLO, NELSON, GEORGIA, CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: It's like when you have, you know, security, the ADT in front of your homes, we're protected by an alarm or whatever.


BANFIELD: Victor Blackwell doing that interview. And it is time now to bring in my attorneys, both of whom happen to be Georgians, Carrie Hackett is a criminal defense attorney. She's on the left of your screen. Between me and Judge Glenda. Judge Glenda Hatchett is a former juvenile court judge and also a Emmy-nominated TV judge.

Carrie, I'd like to begin with you. This thing sounds toothless with all the exemptions added to that final exemption, if you don't want to do it, you don't have to. What's -- I mean, honestly, what would that point be? Even when you say deterrence?

CARRIE HACKETT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think that this is -- you're right. It is absolutely toothless. Nobody needs to comply with this law. And I think on a grander scheme, on a grander scale, there's going to be a problem with enforceability of any law mandating gun ownership because we all have an expectation and a constitutional right to privacy in our own homes. How are they going to enforce this?

BANFIELD: How would they? And they say they don't even plan to really go door to door.

Judge Hatchett, what about the other town, Kennesaw, that's been doing this for a long time? Did it have an effect, the desired effect, crime's down? It's like having the ADT sign in your window?

GLEN HATCHETT, TV JUDGE/AUTHOR: No. I think it's all political posturing, Ashleigh and Carrie. I just think it's craziness. How can -- I read the ordinance this morning actually. I figure there must be some fine print that I'm missing. But there is nothing that allows them any enforcement, and in fact the city council people are saying we don't even plan to enforce it.

So I think it's just posturing. I don't see any value of this law at all. You can exempt out and all the exceptions you talked about, and there are no penalties, very importantly in the ordinance. It doesn't say what happens if you break the law.

BANFIELD: It's odd. But you know here we are talking about it. So that's one thing.

OK. Carrie, Judge Hatchett, thanks. Hold on, hold those thoughts. I've got more tapping of your brains in a moment. People in charge of teaching kids now turning themselves in to police. And the charges are corruption and racketeering. These are our teachers and administrators. It is the latest in a cheating scandal that's rocking the public school system in Atlanta. And Atlanta is not necessarily where this problem ends.


BANFIELD: Teachers, principals, top administrators of Atlanta public schools, many of them are marching themselves right into the office of authorities today to face charges in a massive cheating scandal. Criminal charges. There are nearly three dozen of them indicted on Friday.

They're accused of changing answers on tests and falsifying the results all to make it look like their schools were actually improving and doing better than they actually were.

Just listen to the story of one mother whose daughter failed one reading test only to pass a second and more important test with flying colors.


PAUL HOWARD, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: And she said to Mrs. Hall that she needed help for her daughter because she was having problems reading. And again, she was presented with the same response that her daughter was simply someone who tested well. Her child is now in the ninth grade and that child is reading at a fifth grade level.


BANFIELD: That is so distressing. And now there is concerns that this is not just an Atlanta story. It's happening all across the country. And already the evidence is starting to pile up, too.

Want to bring in former juvenile court judge, Glenda Hatchett, again, and defense attorney Carrie Hackett.

OK, Carrie, let me begin with you. When I read the charges I thought I had mixed up the stories conflating something that the mob was doing with what these people are accused of doing. Racketeering, theft, making false statements? These are extraordinarily serious. And at least the former school superintendent could face up to 45 years.

This doesn't sound like the Mafia kind of crime, and yet it looks like it on paper. What am I missing?

HACKETT: Well, that's right. These racketeering laws were designed to cut down on people ordering other people to do things that are illegal and then circumvent the responsibility or the consequence for doing those acts.

This is definitely a case where Beverly Hall, the superintendent here in Atlanta, did seemingly order or encourage teachers and other administrators to do things that have created very far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for children that now have trouble reading, writing, doing basic math. These are children that cannot be productive citizens without those skills. So it's a really big deal.

BANFIELD: OK. Judge Hatchett, one of the pieces of evidence that I'm only can -- I can guess is going to make it into a courtroom in one of these dozens of cases that are being presented is that the district hired a private detective and that that P.I. was actually part of the staff witnessing, writing notes, turning things over to investigators.

Is that what you call in the business a slam dunk or can you defend against something like that?

HATCHETT: I think it's going to be very hard to defend against this. And Ashleigh and Carrie, I just have to tell you, I'm a product of the Atlanta public school system, so this is very painful. So I've been watching this. I know this case inside and out. And I will tell you that these are -- I've looked at their indictment these are some very serious allegations. But when you have a private investigator that was hired by the school district who then files a written report, written report, and no actions were taken allegedly that's part of the whole conspiracy piece and racketeering and to Carrie's point I absolutely agree.

This is what the laws intended. I mean, it does read like some major drug deal. But you have to remember there are large bonuses. The schools, the former schools superintendent got $225,000 extra because of the improvement of these false test scores. I mean, this is very, very serious.

BANFIELD: And you know what? I just want to add to this that when I say Atlanta ain't the end of this thing, Arizona is looking into problems.


BANFIELD: Detroit, Baltimore, Ohio, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida. HATCHETT: You're right.

BANFIELD: Many of them seeing that there are a lot of erased marks that are corrected into the right answer as opposed to, you know, made into the wrong answer which is a real red flag. So I think this is just the tip of the iceberg potentially and that a lot of school districts are going to be watching these cases.


HATCHETT: And when we have time I want to talk about under education, too, because the Justice Department has whole studies on this and I've seen this as a juvenile court judge.

BANFIELD: Whole other day.


BANFIELD: Whole other conversation and a good one to have.


BANFIELD: Thank you to both of you.

Those ladies went to law school and passed with flying colors. Others go to law school dreaming of high profile jobs and big fat salaries, and the jobs they get? Waiting tables, folding shirts at Macy's, testing software, and not being paid much. And now they're mad and they are suing. Find out about this in a moment.


BANFIELD: Thinking about going to law school, you might want to consider this. If you struggled to pay back over $100,000 on average in loans, your first job after graduating may just be waiting tables, or something that has absolutely nothing to do with the degree you just got.

And now some graduates are mad. And they're fighting. According to "The Los Angeles Times," dozens of law grads across the country have banded together and joined class-action lawsuits against 18 schools. Their allegations that these law schools are hyping the success rate of their grads in finding a full-time job as lawyers after graduation.

All of this, of course, coming at a pretty grim time for job prospects for lawyers. Our recession and the resulting drying up of the jobs caused law school applications to plunge. A national study of 2011 law grads found that only 55 percent had law related jobs and that's nine months after they graduated.

I'm joined again by former juvenile court judge and TV judge, Glenda Hatchett, who has found wonderful work since graduating, and criminal defense attorney Carrie Hackett, also alive and well in the job market.

Here's my question, Carrie, first to you. I know you can sue for anything in the United States. Merit is a whole other kettle of fish. Do you see that these students have merit in going after their colleges for making false promises?

HACKETT: Well, I think that they're going to have to prove that the colleges actually intentionally misled them, that there were acts or omissions taken by the colleges to mislead those prospective students to cause those prospective students to decide to go to law school and that that was a good idea for them.

I think that the issue with the prospective students and the statistics is really that in the past the law schools have shown statistics that show the students that if somebody is employed in any capacity, whether it'd be a law-related job or a non-law related job they show that as a full-time employed graduate.

And that is just not the case. Those students are under employed. The law school graduates are employed in other positions non-law related and that's a big, big problem.

BANFIELD: So, Judge Hatchett, is there anything different if I'm going to choose a university to, say, choosing a gym. If a gym tells me I'm going to get skinny if I go there, don't I have to do my own research? Isn't it caveat emptor across the board?

HATCHETT: Well, but I think that they can reasonably rely on these statistics but what has happened interestingly enough, Ashleigh, is that the American Bar Association has changed the standards of how law schools have to report it. So that it can't include a part time, it can't include full time jobs now that don't require a law degree. And so you're seeing now a change in these numbers.

I think that it's reasonable if you get a catalog or you go online you that you ought to be able to rely on those numbers. But you know, there's going to be some uphill battles in my opinion for these cases.

BANFIELD: What a catch-22.


BANFIELD: I'm sure these universities hoped that they did a good job in training these lawyers.


BANFIELD: And I'm sure they kind of regret maybe doing a good job in training these lawyers who are now turning around and suing them.

Judge Glenda Hatchett, I'm fully out of time. And Carrie Hackett, thank you to you both. It's great to have your perspective. And congratulations on your wonderful careers. Both of you.

HATCHETT: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Thanks for being with us.

And thank you, everyone, for being with us as well. "AROUND THE WORLD" is next.