CHRIS CUOMO TAKES AN UNPRECEDENTED JOURNEY INSIDE A JUVENILE CORRECTIONS CENTER AND MEETS SOME TROUBLED TEENS WHO HAVE ONE LAST CHANCE TO CHANGE THEIR WAYS, ON ABC NEWS' "PRIMETIME," THURSDAY, AUGUST 4
They start out like most children - bright, loving, eager to please -- until something goes terribly wrong. Across the country, some 104,000 troubled teens are locked up in juvenile correction facilities. In an hour-long "Primetime" report, co-anchor Chris Cuomo goes inside two of these facilities near Phoenix, AZ, and meets a group of kids at a critical turning point - they have one last shot to change their ways. The next time, they could face the prospect of doing time in an adult prison. "Primetime" was granted unprecedented access to Arizona's system for juveniles and spent nearly six months following these teens, as they wound their way in and out of the system. Along that way, they share their shame, their secrets and their dreams. They show their pride and promise. And in the end, they reveal that, behind the tough talk and bravado, they're still just kids. "Primetime" airs THURSDAY, AUGUST 4 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
From the outside, Adobe Mountain School for boys and Black Canyon School for girls look like prisons. But they are actually called "safe schools," where the purpose is to reform, not to punish. The schools house kids between the ages of 12 and 17 for whom extensive probation hasn't worked. Here they have the opportunity to further their education and address the underlying causes of their problems. Still, conditions inside are rough, and kids with short fuses can sometimes explode in violence. Cuomo spends a night in each facility as part of his look at the harsh life on the inside.
Among the kids Cuomo meets is Jerilyn, 17, who has a dark secret she shares about the horrible crime that brought her to Black Canyon. After years of intensive therapy, she's now about to be released and talks about returning to society and trying to help her ill mother. Jesse, 17, is in Adobe for manslaughter 2. Once a promising student who hoped to attend an Ivy League college, he's now locked up after accidentally shooting a relative to death. He tells Cuomo why he finally thinks he's on the right track. And Casey, 16, is serving time for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, and for aggravated assault. She's also pregnant, and hopes she'll be released so she can raise her baby.
"Treatment is the answer. These, these are children. And if we can train them to, to do different, to live differently, then they'll be productive citizens, and that's, that's our goal," Suzanne LaRue, the superintendent at Black Canyon, tells Cuomo. "We want to, obviously, protect the public, but we want to rehabilitate."
DIANE SAWYER, CHRIS CUOMO, CYNTHIA McFADDEN and JOHN QUIQONES are the anchors of "Primetime." DAVID SLOAN is the executive producer.