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Nathan YBANEZ

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (16) - Parricide
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 5, 1998
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: 1982
Victim profile: Julie Ybanez, 43 (his mother)
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Douglas County, Colorado, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on January 27, 2000
 
 
 
 
 
 
photo gallery
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rolling Stone article on Nathan Ybanez
 
 
 
 
 
 

Colo. teen convicted of mother's murder, sentenced to life without parole

By Latoya Hunter - CourtTV.com

January 28, 2000

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (Court TV) When the mother of 16-year-old Nathan Ybanez threatened to send him away to military school, the troublesome teen rebelled. But what Ybanez did went far beyond a typical parent-son screaming match or even running away from home he killed his mother.

Ybanez got what he wanted but he's not celebrating. Though the teen doesn't have to worry about being sent away to a dreary, overly-disciplined military school, he will spend the rest of his life in prison. He has been convicted of first-degree murder in his mother's slaying and has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

On Friday, June 5, 1998, Nathan Ybanez and his friend, Erik Jensen, bludgeoned and strangled 43-year-old Julie Ybanez. A police officer found Nathan in a deserted park with his mother's bloody corpse. The defense insisted that, although Nathan played a part, he is not guilty of first degree murder like his friend, Erik Jensen. Jensen, now 18, has already been convicted and sentenced to life without parole. Defense lawyers said Ybanez should be found guilty of a lesser charge because Jensen was the real instigator and their client was just a follower.

Julie Ybanez had reason to fear that her son was being led astray. Ybanez reportedly was a normal teen until he befriended Jensen and other members of a band the defendant joined called "Troublebound." Ybanez seemed to be bound for trouble indeed. He started cutting school, taking drugs and running away to a friend's home.

When Julie Ybanez, who was separated from her husband, could no longer handle her son, the frustrated mother decided to enroll him in a Missouri military school. At about 9 p.m. on the day Mrs. Ybanez was to take him to Missouri, Nathan and Erik attacked her in her apartment.

According to a medical examiner, she received 20 blows to the head with fireplace tongs and was also strangled. Prosecutors were uncertain which happened first and who the strangler was, according to the defense. Ybanez denied doing the choking, which was declared the cause of death.

After the gruesome killing, prosecutors said Nathan and Erik phoned a "Troublebound" member to request help cleaning up the crime scene. Brett Baker has assisted in building the cases against the two boys in exchange for immunity. Baker said Nathan was the real mastermind in the murder. According to Baker, Nathan told him Erik Jensen was "scared sh--less" about the whole thing.

 
 

Scars of abuse concealed

By Miles Moffeit - DenverPost.com

October 28, 2006

The secrets of Nathan Ybanez's home life began spilling out in late 1997.

The 15-year-old told friends his dad was beating him. Parents of a schoolmate alerted police that they believed he was being abused. And one night, Ybanez called the Douglas County Sheriff's Office himself after wandering the streets for two days.

"Nathan said he is unable to live at home with his parents," an officer wrote in a report, adding that the teenager wouldn't explain why he had run away. "Nathan requested social services be contacted for relocation."

The deputy instead returned Ybanez to his mother, but the Sheriff's Office refuses to say whether child welfare workers were called. Eight months later, the boy beat and strangled his mother, Julie, with a fireplace tool in their Highlands Ranch apartment.

"I had to kill my mom so she wouldn't hurt me anymore," Ybanez later told friends.

His path to prison was speedy. The Douglas County district attorney exercised his discretion to bypass the juvenile justice system, filing first-degree murder charges in adult criminal court. At trial, Ybanez's defense attorney, hired by his father, didn't call a single witness on his behalf and at one point remarked to jurors that his client may have a "hole" in his soul.

The verdict was guilty, carrying the mandatory maximum sentence: life without parole.

Yet jurors and the public never heard Ybanez's story of abuse. They never heard testimony from relatives who witnessed his father, Roger Ybanez, handling him violently. They never saw the sheriff's report containing his plea for help. They never heard his testimony about being raped by his parents.

And they never heard scientific research or expert testimony that could have shown he fits the profile of a battered kid whose inner turmoil reached a flash point. That evidence could have built a foundation for a self-defense or crime- of-passion strategy.

"Nathan basically walked into this trial with absolutely no chance of winning," said Terrence Johnson, Ybanez's new lawyer, who is trying to get the verdict overturned by challenging his trial defense as ineffective.

Craig Truman, Ybanez's trial lawyer, refused to be interviewed without a release from the court. Roger Ybanez said he never abused his son sexually or physically. "I definitely deny all of that," he said.

But he confirmed instances in which witnesses described him acting violently and demeaningly toward his son. He acknowledged that he or Julie shoved Nathan, threw him and struck him with objects when he was as young as 3.

"Like every parent, you may see something like that," Roger Ybanez said of the assault allegations. "But I'm saying it was more the rare occasion. His friends convinced him he was being abused."

At least four teenagers in Colorado have been sent away for life without parole in connection with a parent killing during the past 15 years. The state does not keep statistics specifically tracking such crimes, but at least a half-dozen other parricide offenders have been sent through the juvenile system to be treated and eventually released.

To child-advocacy organizations, Ybanez's conviction symbolizes how the state's judicial system has moved from rehabilitation to extreme punishment.

Colorado's mandatory life- without-parole sentence for murder, coupled with broad discretionary powers for prosecutors to charge juveniles as adults, increases the chances that a parent killer will be sealed behind bars without rehabilitation, said Mary Ellen Johnson, mother of Terrence Johnson and director of The Pendulum Foundation, a Colorado Springs-based nonprofit advocacy group trying to scale back stiff adult penalties for juveniles. Yet, "many of these kids have proven they can be rehabilitated," she said.

A lawmaker who seeks sentencing reform agrees.

"These are special cases, and there should be a way to mitigate the punishment, not send them away forever," said state Rep. Lynn Hefley, R-Colorado Springs. At least two parricide offenders in Colorado have proved they can turn their lives around in a big way after serving prison time. One is a surgeon. The other works as a manager for an international firm.

In addition to Ybanez's case, two others in Colorado illustrate what can go wrong when a juvenile parent killer is tried in adult court.

In each case, questions of inadequate defense were raised. Guardians were not appointed early to represent the best interests of the juveniles. In one case, the juvenile faced police interrogators without the help of an adult.

The crime of parricide is grossly misunderstood, said Paul Mones, an Oregon lawyer who has represented more than 200 parricide offenders.

Kids in Ybanez's shoes defy the murderer stereotype, Mones said. They usually don't have violent histories. They often believe killing their parents is their only way out of torment. The vast majority are psychologically damaged, not insane or mentally ill.

Though some Colorado offenders have been channeled into rehabilitation programs after their crimes, Ybanez wasn't as lucky. His case came after 1991, when mandatory life-without-parole sentences took effect for first-degree murder.

Many prosecutors, such as Derry Rice, believe a life sentence is fitting for such a heinous crime. "This is the killing of a mother," Rice said. "That's something we shouldn't forget."

Veterans on both sides agree that juries deserve to understand a family's environment leading up to such murders.

University of South Florida criminology professor Kathleen Heide found many common characteristics among adolescent parricide offenders. They are typically abused. Their parents isolated them from normal social contact. They had made attempts to get help from adults or authorities but were unsuccessful. They led "passive" lives with no prior criminal records.

Mones said 99 percent of his clients were abused physically, sexually or emotionally. And in most of the cases, the slaying was an exercise in excess - multiple stab wounds, multiple gunshots fired and often attempts to hide the crime and the youth's role in it.

"For many years nobody could understand why a kid could kill a parent," said Mones, who was not involved in Ybanez's legal representation. "Now we know that in most cases it's inextricably related to their treatment by parents. There's nothing that would indicate they were capable of killing. It's similar to battered women. The pain from the abuse just builds up and becomes a greater and greater weight."

Like the battered-woman defense, battered-child defenses are admissible under Colorado law and have been used sporadically across the country, though most states don't address the concept in specific statutes, leaving it open to court interpretation.

"These are extremely complex legal cases," said Mones, who has won clemency for two parricide offenders in other states.

To ensure a fair trial, lawyers must deeply investigate the family history, he said. They must interview relatives and neighbors on "all sides" of the house to discover whether they witnessed abuse or suspicious activity. Doctors must conduct intensive exams to look for signs of physical abuse, and psychiatrists must plumb the client's memories for a history of trauma.

None of this was done in Ybanez's case - until appellate lawyers got involved.

Then, his emotional scars began emerging with clarity.

So did the physical scars across his lower back.

"He acted scared"

It wasn't long after Nathan Ybanez drifted into their lives that his friends and neighbors sensed his unease and growing fears.

The slender, dark-haired boy who had moved from Omaha to Highlands Ranch exuded a strange vibe, they say, something they couldn't define at first. He was quiet, friendly and easygoing, especially when he was skateboarding or slouched in a chair playing his guitar.

But when his parents were around, his personality shut down, they said. He became wired with tension.

"It was a complete transformation," said his friend Erik Jensen, a fellow classmate at Highlands Ranch High School who later was convicted of assisting in the murder. "He acted scared around them."

Ybanez was born in Davenport, Iowa, to a father who, after serving in the armed forces, dabbled in the bakery business and worked as a golf professional, among other jobs. His mother was an intensely devoted Christian, and as Ybanez grew older, relatives said, she believed he was falling under the influence of Satan through music and corrupt friends. He said she tracked his movements obsessively, saying she had to protect him.

His childhood was a blur of people, schools and neighborhoods. His dad kept the family on the move with his service assignments and various business interests. They were intensely private and possessive. "We had little interaction with people," Ybanez said.

His parents set rigid rules that he was forbidden from breaking, sometimes over matters as simple as how to sweep the floor.

Some got a glimpse of the family tension behind closed doors. Relatives witnessed Roger pushing, grabbing or striking a cowered Nathan on several occasions, according to interviews with family members. They also witnessed Roger threatening to hit Julie.

"He would be considered abusive," said Roger's sister Tina Thompson. "I've seen him yank him (Nathan) around and hit him."

His outbursts were often laced with insults. He had names for his son: "stupid" and "worthless."

Roger Ybanez acknowledged he's "sure I probably" did use those names when angry. Since Nathan was as young as 3, Roger also recalled that he and Julie would strike him "on the rear end and back" with long-handled kitchen spoons if he threw tantrums.

Family members say Roger's behavior might be partly explained by a violent family cycle stretching back to their now-deceased alcoholic father.

Roger's father, said Thompson and her mother, beat Roger and sexually abused one of Roger's sisters. Roger's father was later suspected by police, but never charged, with killing the sister.

"There are traits that can be passed down," Thompson said.

An attempt to help

At Highlands Ranch High School, it didn't take long for Ybanez to find mutual interests with Erik Jensen and Brett Baker. The two had an opening in their punk-rock band, Trouble Bound, for a guitarist. Ybanez fit the bill.

In the beginning, his friends suspected something was wrong at home because he rarely spoke of his parents and tended to spend as much time as he could at his band mates' homes, especially Jensen's. The band practiced in his basement.

In the fall of 1997, Ybanez mentioned that his parents' marriage was falling apart and that his father had moved out. He also began confiding in Jensen about other problems.

"He beats me," Jensen recalls Ybanez saying about his father. "If I do this, he beats me. If I do that, he beats me."

Tell someone, find some help, Jensen remembers urging him. Jensen later told his father, Curt, about the conversation, as well as a school counselor, he said. Both boys would later get in trouble with their parents for smoking pot and skipping school.

Julie grew more possessive of Nathan, sometimes tape-recording his phone conversations, he said. He plunged into drinking binges, even in the morning, to "numb myself."

Records with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office reflect that, around the same time, Ybanez ran away at least twice after being reported missing by his parents. They reported that he had fled after arguments about drug use and discipline.

His parents threatened to send him to a Christian military school. His mom confiscated some of his albums, telling him "Satan was the masterful musician," Nathan recalls. Both parents wanted him to stay away from his band mates.

One night, Ybanez made a midnight dash from his house in his underwear to Baker's house. He showed up on the porch, crying, telling Baker's parents that he had fled a raging father who had shaken him awake in the middle of the night and trashed his room, "breaking all kinds of stuff." His father, he said, also threw him against the wall and choked him while his mother stood by without intervening.

The next morning, Douglas County sheriff's deputies, notified by Ybanez's parents that he had run away, showed up at the Bakers' house and returned him home.

His parents placed him in a mental hospital, Centennial Peaks in Louisville. According to Nathan's psychologist, Dr. Rich ard Spiegle, records from that hospital stay show he reported a "choking" incident.

Julie told Pat Jensen, Erik's mom, that she feared for Nathan.

"She said she was afraid Roger would hurt him," Pat remembers Julie saying.

The Bakers and Jensens called a meeting to talk. They swapped concerns. "We asked ourselves, what are we going to do about these things?" Curt Jensen said. "Both Roger and the police were basically telling us not to get involved. Roger had a strange rapport with the police. Pat said, let's go to social services. And the Bakers said, please do that.

So the Jensens took their concerns to Douglas County Social Services offices, telling a caseworker that authorities should investigate Nathan's home life. "We filled out a report and everything," Curt Jensen said. "This was a big, big step for us."

They never heard from an investigator. Neither did Nathan.

Officials with the Douglas County sheriff and social services refused to discuss how they handled reports linked to Ybanez, citing privacy laws protecting juveniles and those reporting abuse. Centennial Peaks Hospital officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

"Conflict of interest"

About 4 a.m. on June 6, 1998, a Douglas County deputy steered his patrol car into Daniels Park in Highlands Ranch and spotted a blue Lexus with its headlights on.

As he drove closer, he saw the trunk lid open and a boy standing next to a sleeping bag.

It was Nathan Ybanez. Inside the sleeping bag was his dead mother. He had planned to bury her in the park.

Nathan's parents had told him earlier that morning that they had decided to send him away; that they wouldn't tolerate his running away, his drug use.

Earlier that night, after Erik Jensen picked Ybanez up from work and took him home, Ybanez lunged at his mother with the fireplace tool. Jensen, then 17, walked in on the assault and admits being handed the implement by Ybanez and dropping it near her head. Jensen and Brett Baker, who was called over, helped Ybanez clean up the crime scene and carry his mother's body to the car trunk.

"This was a situation where I was just a kid trying to help my friend who was hurting, not really realizing what was happening," Jensen said. "I was in a daze. I do know one thing: This is a kid who didn't have malice in his heart. He didn't know what would happen to him when his father came for him that night."

Jensen was charged with murder, though he has always maintained he didn't assault Julie, and was sentenced to life without parole. Baker, who Rice said had previous offenses of harassment and reckless endangerment in Doug las County, struck a plea deal to avoid being charged and is free.

At trial, the prosecution argued that Ybanez had acted with deliberation, using a fireplace tool to beat and strangle his mother during a struggle. She received 20 blows to the head and three fractured fingers.

Even though Baker didn't witness the murder, Rice put him on the stand to explain that Ybanez remarked that he was going to kill his mother beforehand, showing premeditation. Baker also testified that Jensen described after the murder how he had helped Ybanez kill her.

Ybanez's new lawyers and family members agree that Ybanez was steamrolled by the legal system, in part because his father, his alleged abuser, was allowed to guide the defense process. "It was a total conflict of interest," Terrence Johnson said.

The trial testimony took only a day. The prosecution called nine witnesses, including Roger Ybanez. Truman called none.

Ybanez's defense boiled down to this: He fell into the wrong crowd of drug-addled kids who convinced him he was being abused, steering him toward murder. Instead of chronicling abuse during the testimony, Truman mocked the notion.

"Your father, Roger Ybanez, can't discipline you," Truman quoted Nathan's friends as saying. "Your mom can't tell you who your friends are. You've got rights. You're being abused, and we're going to help you.

"And after several times, Nathan came to believe it."

The topic of abuse surfaced again briefly when the prosecution put Roger Ybanez on the stand. In the course of explaining his turbulent household and how his son was becoming rebellious, he briefly admitted to one fight he provoked with his son.

"I got extremely upset and trashed his room a little bit, grabbed him and threw him up against the wall and told him at this time that he needed to pay attention to what was going on."

Truman didn't explore that episode under cross-examination.

In closing arguments, he asked jurors to hand Nathan Ybanez a second-degree murder conviction instead of first-degree. The jury came back with first-degree, triggering life without parole.

At least three family members now say they wished they had had the opportunity to testify during the trial.

"Nathan wasn't represented to the full benefit under his lawyer," said Tina Thompson, Roger's sister and now a criminology student. "I've known Julie since I was 12 years old, and she was my best friend. I've lost a lot. But I also know that, for one-time offenders, regardless of offense at this point, I feel like the law was carried out in the worst way possible."

Detecting hidden pain

Ybanez's conviction shows how vital it is for a lawyer to piece together a parricide offender's past, his supporters say.

Once the fragments of his background are reconstructed before a jury, the full picture may not be of a monster but of a child-abuse victim.

Responsibility also rests with the trial judge and prosecutor to fully explore abuse allegations and whether such claims or evidence could pose a trial conflict - such as when an alleged abuser is paying for the defense lawyer, said Terrence Johnson. The trial judge, upon hearing mention of abuse allegations during the proceedings, could have called a mistrial or acted to ensure that a guardian ad litem or independent counsel was appointed.

That's one of the nuances of direct-file law: Once the child enters adult court, those protections are not guaranteed, experts say.

It wasn't until Erik Jensen's appellate counsel began investigating flaws in his trial that any intensive effort to explore Ybanez's home environment began.

During a prison interview with Jensen's new lawyer, Jeff Pagliuca, Ybanez said Jensen didn't have a role in the killing. Then Pagliuca quizzed Ybanez about his background, searching for indications of abuse. But Ybanez skirted the questions.

"Sometimes I have these dreams," Ybanez told him.

As he was leaving the prison, Pagliuca thought to himself, "This kid fits the profile of a sexual-abuse victim."

He shared his findings with the Jensens, who, in turn, shared the findings with Terrence Johnson. He agreed to begin investigating Ybanez's conviction and family history.

Johnson, in turn, enlisted Spiegle, a forensic psychologist and former child therapist with expertise in identifying abused children and those with fraudulent claims. His job would be to determine what prompted Ybanez to kill.

"The first thing I have to assume with many of these kids is that they are lying and that they are trying to get themselves out of trouble," Spiegle said. From the beginning, Ybanez struck him as credible.

"Sexual-abuse victims, by nature, don't trust people and are slow to reveal their secrets. They also have difficulty remembering things because of their physical and sexual trauma."

After nine months, the doctor found an intriguing opening into Ybanez's psyche - and past. Ybanez explained that he was uncomfortable with intimacy. He also said that when he works out in the prison gym, he doesn't like to have his shirt off, that he almost always remains fully clothed. He mentioned that, while showering, inmates remarked about the scars on his back, scars he didn't know were there.

"I asked him to lift up his shirt, and, after hesitation, he did," Spiegle said.

Spiegle noticed four marks stretching horizontally across the back of Ybanez's waist. The doctor later sought out an expert from the Kempe Children's Center in Denver to examine the scars. He ruled that the marks were likely caused by lashings.

In future therapy sessions and correspondence, Ybanez would describe to Spiegle startling accounts of abuse, from physical torment to sexual assaults. He testified last year in a court hearing that his mother forced him to have sex with her in a Disneyland hotel. He said his father forced him to have oral sex with him during showers. Roger Ybanez has denied sexually abusing Nathan, and relatives said they never witnessed sexual abuse in the home.

When Nathan was 7, he remembers one day in particular when his mother, in a burst of anger, thrashed his back over and over with a large spoon. The memories came out in painful sessions.

"This was a good person with a good mind who was destroyed as a child," Spiegle said. "Over the years, he built up so much intense pain and frustration, he exploded in an act of violence. It was a surge of emotional rage."

Public awareness

The handling of both youths' cases led Jensen's parents to launch The Pendulum Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Colorado Springs that supports rehabilitation options for teen offenders instead of harsh sentencing through adult courts.

"Erik convinced us we were in a unique position," said Curt Jensen, a venture capitalist. "Most families of juvenile offenders are not well off financially. We had the means to allow a voice to be heard. Erik said this was our destiny. Many other kids and their families needed help, and no group or movement for kids in the criminal system was around. The kids are lost."

Erik Jensen's personal destiny lies in writing fantasy adventure books. He has just published a 605-page tome called "Orphan Mage." He also started the website-based Next Day Foundation, which gives troubled teens advice on coping with abuse and other problems.

His book is about a young group of outcasts who struggle with an "ever-expanding tide of darkness."

"If only I was smarter"

From the Sterling Correctional Facility, Ybanez, now 24, awaits the filing of the appeal early this year that he believes will finally shed light on the truth of his desperate actions.

He says he's sorry.

He says he's not a monster.

"I was in a place where no one should ever be, where there was no hope, and I felt completely trapped on the verge of death," he says. "I was broken. I had no control. I think now: If only I was smarter; if only I could have figured out a different way to end the pain."

He realizes the public may be skeptical of his claims but says he doesn't care.

"You don't know whether people are truthful most of the time," he says. "It takes people awhile to get to know me, to understand what I've done. Think of someone who steals bread. They are not stealing just to steal. They may want to feed their family. There can be other reasons for these crimes other than a cold heart."

Sometimes a letter arrives from someone who says they are trying to understand him, sometimes from someone deep in his past. Such as Jonnique Peter, a classmate from the eighth grade who wants to encourage him to remain strong and to know that anyone who believes he is "this hellion kid from the womb" is believing a lie.

He and Erik Jensen write each other occasionally. They share their prison experiences. How Jensen is writing books. How Ybanez is teaching himself chemistry and Buddhism.

"I feel guilty, not so much about the murder itself, but that I didn't protect him, that I didn't save him," Jensen says. "Nate's in prison partly because of me, that I didn't do more for him to help him escape. It bothers me that people don't understand him.

"It's like, if you beat a dog, are you surprised when he bites back? Now he's there and I'm here for life. It's something we're still trying to get our heads around."

In his diaries and letters, Ybanez writes about how he often feels safer in prison than when he lived with his parents.

"I'm not as ashamed anymore. I'm not as tense or afraid. ... Prison changes you forever. Its marks never really fade. But it's possible to bear them, and even do amazing things, if you're able to find your way to a home out there. If you're able to develop bonds that bring smiles and laughter instead of cuts and bruises."

 
 

Profile Nathan Ybanez & Erik Jensen

Frontline - PBS.org

Erik was there when Nate killed his mother after years of abuse; Nate says Erik didn't do anything, but they're both serving life without parole for her death.

A History of Abuse

By the time 14-year-old Nathan Ybanez moved to Highlands Ranch, Colo., in 1996, his family had left a trail of over 30 different addresses. Nate, his strict evangelical Christian mother Julie and his father Roger bounced from Iowa to Germany to Virginia to Illinois, steered by Roger's capricious career ambitions -- insurance salesman, baker, golf pro -- and the volatility of the couple's marriage.

But moving to a new city never fixed the underlying tensions in the Ybanez family. "Both of my parents were unhappy, I think. My father, he was kind of a violent man at times. And my mother, she was unstable," Nate told FRONTLINE. "It was hard to tell what kind of a mood she was going to be in and how she would react to things."

He feared his father's violent temper, but Nate told FRONTLINE that his relationship with his mother was the source of even greater suffering and confusion. Julie was extremely controlling of his behavior -- she was known to tap his phone and follow him when he went out -- and her emotional instability led to a warped and abusive relationship with her son. She would call Nate when he was out with friends, begging him to come home to comfort her, Nate recalled. "A lot of times she would bring that down to the level [of], you know, you don't want to come home because you don't love me, or stuff like that," he told FRONTLINE.

When Roger was away, Julie's neediness grew into sexual abuse. "A lot of times it would happen like this," Nate told FRONTLINE. "She's crying or something's sad, so I don't like to see her cry, so I ask her what's wrong. I try to get her to talk about whatever it was that was making her sad, and a lot of times it would involve me coming and giving her hugs and staying in bed with her and letting her unload. And a few times that evolved into her doing sexual things to me that she shouldn't have been doing."

"I knew that it wasn't right, but I wasn't sure about my place in the whole area of what was going on with my family and the world in general. I'd been kept apart from a lot of outside things," Nate added. "These kind of things [sexual abuse] make me feel like I wish I could cut off my own skin. That's how I feel. Even today. So I don't like talking about them."

Nate had always had difficulty making friends. But working in a Highlands Ranch pizzeria, he met Brett Baker. Brett introduced him to Erik Jensen, and the pair invited Nate to become the new guitarist in their punk rock band, Troublebound.

Erik, the oldest child of a well-to-do venture capitalist, lived in a big house where Troublebound got together to practice. Nate became a regular at Erik's house.

It was not long before and Erik and his parents began to suspect that Nate was having trouble at home. Erik told FRONTLINE that what Nate was experiencing wasn't "normal teen angst, where he's not happy that he didn't get to go to the Homecoming game. He's not happy that something really bad's happening to him."

Nate was reluctant to talk about his home situation with anyone. "With my close friends, they knew that I had a lot of problems in my family," he told FRONTLINE, "but I tried to keep everything away from [them]. I didn't like talking about any of this stuff because it's embarrassing. I just wanted to be seen as a normal person."

"Something Had to Happen"

But Nate's home situation made normal impossible. Erik and Brett, who were embarrassed to ask Nate about the problems they suspected, asked their parents to try to intervene. The parents were concerned enough to contact a social worker, but no caseworker was ever assigned to investigate. The Jensens say they were told social services didn't have the resources to take care of after teenage boys who should be able to look out for themselves. The agency has denied that that is their policy. "I think he gave up on the system and he gave up on anybody else helping him besides himself," Erik told FRONTLINE.

Nate began drinking heavily. "I was into doing some drugs that I shouldn't have been doing. And I was drinking exceptionally a lot," he told FRONTLINE. "For me it was like I felt like I had to drink, like it was the only way to maintain."

On June 5th, 1996, Julie told Nate that she was sending him to a Christian boot camp in Missouri. Nate was terrified by this prospect. "It seemed to me that something had to happen -- had to happen that day," he told FRONTLINE.

That night, Erik, high on marijuana, picked Nate up after his shift at Einsten Bros. Bagels, and the pair drove to Nate's place. Nate went up and told Erik to check on him if he wasn't back in 20 minutes.

No one knows exactly what happened in the Ybanez's apartment that night. When Nate hadn't reappeared 20 minutes later, Erik went up to the apartment, and Julie let him in. Erik says he went to wait in Nate's bedroom, but then began to hear the sounds of an argument -- people "fighting to the death," he later said on the stand -- and came out when Nate called for him to bring some plastic wrap.

Erik walked into a bloody scene -- Nate had beaten his mother over the head with a pair of fireplace tongs and was attempting to strangle her. Stoned and shocked by the gore, Erik says he doesn't clearly know what happened next, but he thinks he collapsed onto the bloody carpet after Nate handed him the tongs.

Julie died from suffocation after Nate choked her with the tongs. Then the boys called Brett Baker to help clean up and help dispose of the evidence in dumpsters. They also threw away some of Julie's things to make it seem like she and Nate had skipped town.

Looking back on that night, Erik told FRONTLINE, "I basically just went along with the flow, and I think Nate did, too. Once the floodgate came down -- and all that stuff that happened to him all came out at once -- he was just rolling along like I was."

The Aftermath of the Crime

The next morning, a police officer on patrol spotted Nate in a public park, standing over his mother's body. "I was kind of blank afterwards," Nate told FRONTLINE about that time. "Not really relief, but just -- I don't know. ... You're just blank. You're just existing." Nate was charged as an adult with first-degree murder.

Erik and Brett were arrested a few days later, charged as accessories in the murder. Both were released on bail.

But nearly two months later, the police re-arrested Erik and charged him as an adult with first-degree murder, based on testimony Brett Baker agreed to give as part of a plea bargain. Brett told prosecutors that Erik knew in advance about the murder and had told him he hit Julie with the tongs three times.

In exchange for this testimony, the prosecution gave Brett total immunity from charges in the murder, shortened the sentence he was serving in a juvenile facility for earlier charges of harassment and reckless endangerment, and agreed not to revoke his probation stemming from other previous charges.

On Trial

Erik went on trial first, in August 1999. After plea negotiations for second-degree murder fell through in the wake of the Columbine school shootings, Erik's attorney argued that his client was too high to be cognizant of what was going on that night. The jury rejected Erik's marijuana defense and convicted him of first-degree murder, which in Colorado carrie a mandatory sentence of life without parole at that time.

Nate's trial, which commenced in October 1999 and was televised on Court TV, lasted less than three days. In many instances, juveniles charged with serious crimes are assigned a guardian ad litum, an independent legal advisor. But in Nate's case, his father was allowed to advise him and pay for his counsel, despite a clear conflict of interest and allegations of abuse. The tension between father and son was made publicly evident by an audio tape played during a motion to throw out Nate's confession, in which Roger is heard cursing him angrily before storming out of the room.

Nate's attorney called no witnesses during the trial. He based his defense on the argument that Nate's friends had corrupted him into thinking he was being abused and that Erik provided the spark that turned talk about killing Julie into a reality. In his closing arguments, Nate's counsel acknowledged that Nate had killed his mother but asked jurors to find him guilty of second-degree murder. The jury convicted Nate of first-degree murder, carrying a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

Nate is currently planning to appeal his conviction based on ineffective assistance of counsel.

Erik is currently preparing an appeal to the Colorado supreme court.

Life in Prison

In prison, Nate has earned his GED and practices meditation. "I'm better in prison than I was when I was free," Nate told FRONTLINE, comparing prison to his home life. He and Erik have also both developed their writing and visual art talents while serving time.

Erik has begun writing fantasy novels; his parents recently published the first in a trilogy he's completing. He also started a Web site called the Next Day Foundation that counsels abused teens. His parents, who visit every week, formed the Pendulum Foundation to bring attention to juvenile justice issues.

Nate and Erik write each other occasionally. "We write each other about every six months," Erik told FRONTLINE. "[Nate's] really into physics and philosophy and stuff, so we trade back theories here and there and stuff. We don't really talk about prison too much, because there's not a whole lot to say. We do the same thing every day."

Erik and Nate worry that they will not be able to survive forever in prison if all their avenues of appeal should fail. "Slowly and ceaselessly, this prison system is destroying those good, human qualities I still possess," Nate wrote in an excerpt of his journal published by the Rocky Mountain News. "If the truly important parts of myself get taken, I hope I will have awareness enough to kill myself."

Erik echoed this sentiment. "In ten years, I'll either be on the streets or dead," he told FRONTLINE. "It's just not worth it to go on here. It's like a mockery, really. It would make me feel like I've let myself down."

 
 

Journal entry from Nathan Ybanez

RocktMountainNews.com

September 20, 2005

Editor's Note: These are excerpts from a journal written by Nathan Ybanez, who is serving life without parole after killing his mother. Except for items in parentheses, which give context, the information appears in its original form, unedited.

Concentration Camp of the Soul: Life inside a Colorado Prison

A prison journal by Nathan Ybanez, who entered prison at 16 and is now 24. He's serving life without parole.

4/14/05: Today was canteen day. Everything is always so hectic on canteen day. All the men scramble around frantically to settle debts. Here people deal in food and hygiene. Objectively I can stand back and look at the humor of two grown men wanting to fight each other over a few soups and a bar of soap, but I don't laugh. Here people hardly have anything so small things become very important.

I don't buy much canteen. I try to live mostly off what they feed us, but it's hard sometimes. The portions are often small, and a third of the meals are hard to force down. Many of the men in here freak out if they don't have canteen. I think the act of eating helps them forget where they area a little.

Day 2: Today and yesterday were hectic days. The cops know somebody is tattooing in the pod ././. but they haven't been able to find it. They hate when they can't find things. So, they've been kind of harassing everyone. Shaking down everyone's rooms and acting hostile. In case you're wondering, a "shake-down" is when you are forced out of your room by 2 guards who tear everything in your cell up looking for stuff they can take from you. Most of us don't have very much, but regardless I've never seen a cop leave from a shake down without a garbage bag full of stuff. Then, after they've shook you down, you've got to go put everything back in order because it's like a tornado hit it. And hope nothing dear to you has been taken because you'll have to fight tooth and nail to get it back if you get it back at all.

Day 3: (In the past) I've had to stand my ground and be prepared to kill a couple men because they were preying on me. But, I'm fortunate and happy to say I've never been forced to stab anybody, and I haven't been raped. There have been a few times I was completely terrified. There have been times I felt the hands of death near. But because I stood my ground with strength I'm now left alone. But, to get to a place where people leave you alone your personality has to change. You really do have to be willing to seriously injure or kill people if the need arises, and you have to be prepared to die because if things go to that level it's a possibility. Now, most times things can be resolved with a fight. Still, prison permanently changes you in that regard. You have to become hard, or break apart.

(On the frustrations of prison life and following rules and orders that sometimes make no sense:) Like Chinese water torture. Eventually that drip comes which sends you over the edge into madness. And the people outside looking in think, "How foolish! It was only a drop of water!"

In the same way I both saw and felt the potential for these men to explode. And it made me angry as well. On the streets you can go home to get away from the frustrations of the world, or at least to some place with peace. Here, you go nowhere. You can't. And there is no place of peace. So when I see somebody snap over something seemingly small, I don't laugh.

Day 4: Today was an all right day. But I got very tired. That happens a lot in here. I get tired for no reason. Even after sleeping all night. Maybe it's because I never sleep well. Maybe it's because this place steals my energy.

Day 5: I've been really stoked about stealing these new heavy-duty sporks from chow. You see, in prison you don't get any silverware. You get really flimsy sporks and knives. That might not seem like a bad thing to you, but try eating a slab of meat, or something you really need a fork for with a plastic Spork and knife. After about a week of struggling with your food you really miss metal silverware.

Generally, there are two ways people in here feel about all the loss. Some people get really angry about the little things. Others miss the big things.

Because I got locked up so young (16) I didn't get to do hardly any of the big things. I've driven a car less than 10 times. Never even had a driver's license. I can count on one hand the number of girlfriends I've had. Only 2 of them were real. The others just kid crushes. And I never had sex with any of them. (Yea, ha, ha. Laugh, but I were abused and had a bad childhood so sex was a real issue with me.) I was waiting for the right girl. I've never been in a bar. Never been to an art gallery. Never paid taxes. You get the idea never really did anything.

Now, of these two viewpoints. I'd say the first one predisposes a person towards institutionalization. And the other protects them from it-- or leads to death and suicide and lots of violence. Recognizing this, I cultivate my pain. I don't wanna forget how much I hate this place or desire my freedom. 'Cause if that happens there's no point in living anymore. And if I die, I'd rather it be somebody killing me while I'm trying to escape, than killing myself.

Today my friend I play guitar with left. I don't know where he went, but I know he won't be coming back. That's another thing that's hard about prison. This isolation, or alienation, whatever; the point is you can't find anybody to get close to because you, or they, always get moved. Every time they move one of your friends it's a cold truth you may never see them again in this life. And it hurts. So, the longer someone is in prison the less friends they make. They get tired of everyone being taken away from them. Eventually, they hardly speak to anybody, and that's sad, because many of these people have a lot to share, but it will die away with them. I'm still a "youngster," still a fool, because I still allow myself to develop bonds with people. I still let people touch my heart. But, slowly and ceaselessly, this prison system is destroying those good, human qualities I still possess. I tell myself all the time I won't let these people and this system mold me, but the truth of the matter is it is happening in small ways. If the truly important parts of myself get taken I hope I have enough awareness to kill myself.

Day 7: Today was a good day. I got to go to the law library and study the law in the morning. I have to study the law if I want a chance to get out of here.

And, I got a letter from a friend. I write to that said she graduated from college. Mail is extremely important to guys in here. For many people, it's all they have that keeps them going. So, here's to good days! They should be cherished.

She sent me an invitation to her graduation. It made me fell?like I was happy, but falling at the same time. I was so touched that she thought enough about me to send me something. But I was sad cause I can't be in that world. I never even graduated high school, so I don't know what it's like to feel that sense of accomplishment, but I would really love to be there to congratulate this girl. It's strange getting things like that in the mail because they are links to a world I've never known. You wish you were there, even though you don't know what it's like. You figure because everyone looks so happy it's gotta be a wonderful place.

Day 9: Today, I typed up a flyer describing how to order from the Tattered Cover Bookstore. My plan is to somehow get copies of it, and flood this prison with them. Why? Because we aren't allowed to have catalogues here. Sound stupid? Senseless? It is. It seems this prison really doesn't want any inmates ordering books, magazines, and newspapers. They make it so difficult. In fact, it's even difficult to get to the library here. They only allow us to go to the library (well, my unit at least) 3 days a week. Two of those days I work. And, when I do have time to go, it's very difficult to get a pass. Only a certain amount of people are allowed at the library, so you need a pass to go there. Because so many people need to go, there' always a large line.

So, you see, nothing is easy in here. Yesterday I spent an hour waiting to try to go to the library. Surprising, as it may seem, there's not that long of a wait. I won't even go into the hostile atmosphere you meet when you get to the library.

Anyway, the last 3 days I 've been dead tired for no reason. I find, periodically, that happens to me. I can barely walk to chow. I was commenting on it to another inmate who's been down (been locked up) many years. He said, "It's this place that does it to you. It just drags you down-- steals your energy. Don't matter how much sleep you get. It's not your body that's tired." He's right.

Day 10: In a cell there are two bunks. That means two people. The cell is about 15' long by 8 ' feet wide. The bunks are at the back end. They are about 3' wide. And on one side of the cell, there is a 2' wide desk. All things are steel or concrete. Oh, and there's a steel combination toilet/sink next to the door. That's not very much space for two adult people. Especially when, on average, 14-16 hours there together. On lock-down you'll spend 23 hours there together. Think about how much tension can exist between two people living in the same house. That's the same house! Now imagine that tension being reduced and compacted into a single small room. Insane. It can be very insane. Especially in a place that is full of negativity. And many of the people here have many deep problems. So, it's very difficult to find peace here. As I said, every thing here is steel or concrete. No carpet of course. And that has a large impact when you fight in these cells. With all the tension it's normal that there would be a lot of fights.

Because there really is nothing to do here, but these people force us to be "full-time assigned" (work 8 hours a day) people end up being forced into classes they've already taken 2 or 3 times. I've taken anger management 3 times. And none of it was worth anything. What has been helpful are my own private studies. There are, basically, No educational programs here. But I've studied many things on my own. And the spiritual stuff here is negative. All the Christians are delusional, and covering up personal problems with empty actions and words, instead of being naked and going through the pain of fixing them. The meditation the Buddhists teach is good though. I'm not a Buddhist, but learning to be aware of and control your thoughts and emotions is great. I wish everyone learned it.

It's hard to find peace in here. If there was a place where each of us could find some alone time it would be easier, but there is no alone time here. And it's loud. Noise all the time. I blast my fan and radio so I don't have to hear the yelling and keys and all the things that make me want to scream and cut my brain to pieces. A consistent sound is easier to deal with. One thing this place does to make me strong. Somebody could try to kill me right now, and I don't think it would bother me much. I''m in a constant struggle as it is, so it actually might be a bit of relief.

These steel bunks are difficult to sleep on. Between your body and the steel is a plastic foam mat that is about 1 " thick. Everything is so soft where you guys live. Do you realize that? Hugs are soft. Don't underestimate their value. There are no hugs here. Well! Back to my studies.

Day 11: Tonight it's silent in here. Like whoever makes the world each day decided to give us a break. There's no yelling, no ringing metal, no jingling keys, no stomping boots, no slamming doors, no jarring laughter, or roaring vents. Nothing. And it is so blessed I wish I could have just a little bit of silent peace every week. I won't get greedy and ask for it every day. Just one time a week. But, this is so rare. The vents are always on. They are so loud. You wouldn't think that, but they're like those jets. I've grown used to them over the years, but then a night like tonight will come along and remind me of how things are supposed to be. And I feel my soul just relax. And it's surprising because you thought you were relaxed. But you weren't. You'd just grown used the tension. So, I'm thankful for this night when I'm reminded of how things should be. And I breathe in the silence.

Day 12: I'm bubbling with frustration and anger today. I know, logically, it's futile, but things have just "gotten" to me today. That drip of water that could send me over the edge is getting mighty close. Good thing it's lock-down. So many little frustrations today. For the last 2 days there've been all these "visitors" here. "Visitors" are people dressed in civilian clothes with nametags who are escorted around the prison by other cops. The cops talk to them and show them the prison, us inmates, and everything else. I hate visitors. I have no idea who these people are.

It's an angering experience having these people watch you. All of us feel it to be very disrespectful. It's like this is a zoo and they consider us some strange breed.

To these people we aren't human. To them we are sub-human. What we think or how we feel doesn't matter. They way I feel, it's enough punishment to be here and be persecuted for the rest of your life because you have a felony on your record. They don't need to gawk at us. Another thing-these "visitors" don't see real prison because the guards clean up their acts when they're around.

The law makes no room for the surrounding circumstances of a crime. Most people in here have things that, if they were known, make their "crime: seem like it's reasonable. We all do things that re wrong. We all make mistakes. And there should be compassion for those who are not perfect. We should try to make them better people so they can make right the things they've done wrong.

Day 13: Today I went to a college class Adam's State College is offering called "Development of Civilization." I don't qualify for this class. In order to qualify you must be under 25 and have less than 3 years to your P-E-D (Parole Eligibility Date). Because the state of Colorado gives people so many years few people qualify to take the college course they're offering. But, I asked respectfully if I could sit in and listen without receiving credit. At first the instructor was hesitant. He said DOC had a negative stance towards the college program and he was bound by what they said. But he let me stay in the end. There are 12 people in the class, and it was delayed a week because there almost weren't enough people who qualified to even hold the class. But I'm glad they are holding because that means I get to learn.

Now, DOC did say that if we don't "qualify" to take the class we can pay for it. But the cost is $375. That is a lot of money for someone who has no way to make money.

In here (remember I said you're forced to work) they pay you 60 cents a day if you work all day. That translates to $12 month. With that $12 you have to buy everything you need (soap, stamps, etc?) and pay for medical ($5 a visit) if you need to go. On top of that, most people have to pay money (restitution) to the court, which means 20% of everything they make is taken immediately by DOC. Twenty per cent of $12 is $2.40. So, you can see it's difficult to get an education here. But, I 'm happy they are finally offering something positive for these guys in here. It's cool to see these guys excited about learning. The instructor even allowed me to check out a textbook.

Day 14: (On his lack of sympathy for inmates who have been beaten by other inmates:) I feel like they shouldn't dwell on their hardships, but should continue on with life. That's a sign of strength. Giving in to your pain is almost like giving up, and that's wrong. Maybe I shouldn't feel this way, but I do. If I felt the pain of everyone I meet who's in suffering I wouldn't survive. So, I've changed my way of interacting with the world. Plus, physical pain is so minor! It all heals rather quickly. But metal and emotional pain wound so deeply sometimes they never heal.

I've seen a lot of people get f----- up in here. And it almost never fazes me. It did when I first came to prison, but no longer. Perhaps that's another sign of institutionalization. But it enables me to function so I can work towards bettering myself and attaining my freedom.

A lot of people say they're going to kill themselves in here, or try. When I was in a different "facility" than I am now I probably saw 10 people climb outside the rail on the third tier (probably 30-35') and prepare themselves to jump headfirst. Remember, it's all steel and concrete here, so you can imagine the mess. When this would happen you'd have guys come out, group up and start cheering.

"Hey! Jump! Do it! You're f------ worthless!"

Now I never saw anybody actually jump. But there've been instances where people did. And lots of times they didn't die! That's probably worse than dying.

The main reason everyone cheered for these guys to kill themselves was because most of the time the person out on the rail had stabbed a lot of people in the back, or something along those lines. They weren't considered "good" people.

Maybe another reason these guys in here cease caring about other people is because the world ceased caring about them.

Some of the things in here are hard to express or explain. If you care you're vulnerable. If you care about something the possibility exists for you to feel afraid. And there's nothing worse than feeling alone and afraid. Since you're always alone in here, at least you can kill off your fear. Since I've trained myself not to feel upset by physical pain or death there's not much that causes me to fear. And since I don't have any relationships of any depth in here there's not much to fear emotionally. So, I'm kind of protected. I know the rest of the dudes in here, or at least a majority feel the same. That's why many cut themselves off from their loved ones on the streets. It's not that they don't love them they love them too much. If you hold onto something like that in here it'll end up killing you.

Of course, I'm not as smart as the rest of these guys. I still allow myself to write people to stay connected to them, and love them. Maybe it'll be my downfall.

Day 15: So in prison you never see any water except for what comes out of the shower or the sink. In fact, the most water you see is what's in the toilet. Sometimes the mop bucket. Missing water isn't one of the obvious things you'd think about, when it comes to prison. But you definitely feel the loss. I imagine what it used to feel like to swim to have my whole body submerged in water. But it's hard to remember. I think it felt relaxing and vivifying.

The way the showers work here is a button. There's a nozzle (metal, like all things here) and water sprays out of it. There are no temperature controls, so you can't make the water comfortable. You just push the button, and after about 3 seconds the water shoots out. It stays on for a pre-determined amount of time and then you have to push the button again. Many times the water is either uncomfortably cold (read, like an ice-box) or hot (read, scalding). And, the showers are right in the middle of the pod, so there's no real privacy. Yes, you do have a shower curtain, but it's clear plastic on top and bottom so the cop can see you.

When you first get to prison you have trouble getting used to the showers. You feel tense and vulnerable and you are. When I first go here I wore all my clothes to the shower. I didn't want to walk anywhere without being fully dressed. I knew it was dangerous. Especially if you're young, small sized and good-looking. I was all those things. And extremely homophobic. But, with time you get used to it. So, I don't wear much anymore. And the uncomfortable feeling of showering doesn't bother me much anymore either. I don't look at water as something relaxing anymore. It's just practical. Prison is full of these things. Stuff that used to bring you comfort on the streets brings you little to no comfort in here. Because of this you grow harder. You loose your manners. But, in other ways, you learn to be respectful. It's almost like this is a different culture. Norms that are followed out there don't mean much in here. And norms that don't even exist out there become quite important in here.

We don't have faucets here. Remember I said your sink is also your toilet. The sink puts out water like a drinking fountain. It's like a drinking fountain with two buttons one for hot and one for cold. And, because you have to keep pushing the buttons to keep the arc of water going, it gets annoying. But, you can get most things accomplished with it. Except wash your clothes. You get written up for washing your own clothes here. Does that sound strange? That's because it's another one of those rules that doesn't make sense. You're also not allowed to hang your clothing so they can dry if they're wet. These are things you could get written up for.

Day 16: I'm sitting here looking out of my window. The windows in this cell are placed in the middle of the wall opposite the sliding steel door. There are two. Each is about the length of your pen high, and a yardstick wide 6" deep. A skinny guy like me might barely be capable of squeezing my head into it sideways. It's Plexiglas, and doesn't open of course. But at least I can see the grassy hillside beyond the fences (there's 3 of them, ringed with razor-wire and one is electrified with 10,000 volts). For some reason, in Ad Seg (solitary) they place metal plates on the outside of the windows so you can't see out of them. There's no security reason for this because the windows are exactly the same as these ones. So, it's obviously a way to cause you torment mentally. And in some holes you don't have any windows. I was in one that felt like a dungeon. It was very dark there. And not much space to do push-ups. We laughed about being there at the time, but it wasn't funny. Anyway, you probably wouldn't think depriving someone of fresh air and the ability to see the outside sky and ground is very important. But, it actually affects you deeply subconsciously. These days, out there, everyone spends so much time indoors the thought of losing the outdoors doesn't seem too harsh. But, I can tell you when I saw a sky without fences, or metal grating between it and my eyes for the first time, after coming out of Ad Seg (I spent 2 years there) I was overwhelmed. I wanted to breathe all of it in. It was so?peaceful and liberating. Unfortunately, they put me back in lockdown for 7 more days before releasing me into population. All of us were mad about that. We'd figured we'd done our time.

Then, when I went to court they escorted me through a normal parking lot before placing me in a van (inside the van is a cage like a kennel for humans). I felt like crying. I was so surprised by the horizon. There were no walls! No fences! Nothing! I could see as far as my eyes could see. And there were trees! The experience is very hard to describe. It's like seeing the most beautiful thing in the world something directly connected to the divine, something transcendental for the first time. It was awe inspiring and magnificent. My breath stopped. I couldn't believe I'd forgotten what things looked like without walls, razor wire, and fences. I wonder how many other things I've forgotten?

This is another way prisoners are different than all of you. We've seen things from a perspective you can't imagine. Because of this we think differently than you. We attach importance to things you don't think twice about. And we get angry about these seemingly unimportant things being interfered with or taken. Our reactions seem extreme, but if you experienced what we experience you'd see the rational nature of how we act.

For instance, in Ad Seg and the hole they have a tendency to not give you your "hour-out" into the outside cage when they're lazy or have a facility lock-down or something of that nature. When an inmate doesn't get their hour out they react violently a lot of the time. Of course these cops think, "How irrational! It's only an hour and you're acting like a madman!" But to the inmate that 1-hour out of his/her cell 5 times a week might be the only thing that keeps them feeling human and sane. There's so much depression in here usually it's only a handful of things that keep you holding on. The love of just one of those things could make you upset enough to kill somebody. Is a prisoner wrong to severely hurt or kill someone who causes him/her such pain and torment they don't feel as thought they can even exist anymore! Is anybody wrong for that? I don't know. But I sympathize with people pushed to that level. I see it nearly every day. One thing is for sure regardless of morals, you can only push a human being so far before they break. When something breaks it doesn't just injure itself, it injures anyone around it the broken pieces reach.

There are people out there (you might be one) who think prison needs to be about torture and torment. But few people think to the future when those people who've been tortured and tormented over the years are released back into society. They commit more crimes. And the level of crime is nearly always greater. This is because of the pain they've experienced; nobody here respects the law. In prison you learn to hate the law.

In India there was (and largely still is) a caste system. At the bottom rung (in fact mostly not even considered a true caste) were the pariahs, the "untouchables." These were criminals, prisoners, and slaves. They weren't even considered to be human and was looked on with disgust. I see these people in here. WE are the pariahs. And no matter how fancy the words are you use, or how clean you make the prison appear, the fact is these poor souls are considered throwaways by you society. Look within yourself and those around you objectively and you'll see what I'm saying is true.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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