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Cuyahoga County wants to try 43 teenage 'Heartless Felons' as adults
Gang's influence extends from throughout Ohio's adult and juvenile prisons

Kabir Bhatia
Glenville native Duane Deskins came back to "improve the quality of juvenile justice in Cuyahoga County" last December
Courtesy of K. Bhatia
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Cuyahoga County has arrested members of a gang that’s allegedly been terrorizing Ohio’s juvenile jails and prisons for 14 years. And as WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports, the kids in question could be facing adult jail time.
Cuyahoga County wants to try 43 teenage 'Heartless Felons' as adults

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The Heartless Felons arrested this week are 43 teenagers charged with 437 counts ranging from racketeering to robbery to extortion. The crimes stem from just the last two years, and Assistant Prosecutor Duane Deskins says he is seeking to have the gang members bound over to adult court.

“In deciding whether to grant these bind-over requests, juvenile court judges are supposed to decide if the young people are amenable to rehabilitation. We think the fact that these 43 individuals have treated the Detention Center as a prep school for added violent crime demonstrates that they are not being rehabilitated here.”

Violent incidents at the Detention Center on Cleveland’s east side more than doubled from 2011 until 2012. Prosecutors claim the gang’s influence extends throughout the state’s juvenile and adult prison systems. 

In addition to trying cases in county court, Deskins wants parole supervision extended for convicted Heartless Felons past their 21st birthdays.

“We uncovered the way members of the gang ‘tax’ other juveniles in the Detention Center [by] extorting non-members to turn over their food or prescription medications to the gang if they want to avoid a beating.” 

Currently, the 43 Heartless Felons are being held separately from the rest of the juvenile population, awaiting a decision on whether their cases can be bound over to adult court. Altogether, they already had nearly 500 convictions or pending charges on their records, including three homicides. Today’s charges nearly double that number.
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