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Larry King Live

Why Is Deborah Norville in Jail?

Aired February 14, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Deborah Norville in jail. What's the crime that has her doing time behind bars? The anchor of "Inside Edition" joins us live from cellblock A of the Davidson County Jail in North Carolina. Deborah Norville on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

Later in the program, we'll meet the sheriff who runs this jail in Davidson County. You know him as Sheriff Gerald Hege. He has his own program, by the way, "Live From Cellblock F" on Court TV. We'll also be joined by one of the other inmates at the jail, Marcella Martin. And co-anchoring with me here in the studio is Greta Van Susteren, CNN's own legal analyst. She's right here with me in Washington.

Deborah, why?

DEBORAH NORVILLE, ANCHOR, "INSIDE EDITION": Well, Larry, as you know, there is a big debate in this country over just how criminals in America ought to be treated:whether the "lock them up and throw away the key approach," or a more rehabilitative, give them the programs, the skills -- coddle them, if you will -- is the better way to work.

This is a facility that's known as the toughest jail in America. And I've been here since Saturday morning. I'm not getting out until Wednesday evening. And I'm being treated as every other inmate.

And the reason we're doing this is to try to see first hand just what the impact on one of these very, very rigorous, 24/7 lockdown situations is on the inmates. And halfway through this odyssey, I can tell you it definitely has an effect.

KING: Now, a couple of facts. "Inside Edition" is featuring this tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday, right?

NORVILLE: That's correct, yes.

KING: So it certainly has -- it's part of sweeps as well, right?


KING: Second, this is a jail, not a prison?

NORVILLE: Exactly. And right now in America, there are about 2 million people behind bars. Jails are of course the first step in the criminal justice system. No matter where you end up, you start in a facility like this one. And this is where the growth industry in corrections is. Right now, in America, the jail population is increasing at a rate of about 10 percent per year. So, that was one of the reasons that we decided to focus on the jail situation as opposed to what it might be in a state institution or even a federal system.

KING: Now, usually in jail there's no one in there more than three years, right? Or four, five years? These are felonies but not violent crime.

NORVILLE: Yes. Well, really what this facility here is, is if you're going to do 90 days or less, you will be in this particular type of jail, the Davidson County Jail in Lexington, North Carolina. There are, however, people who have been here for many, many months for reasons that might include inability to get a court date. Perhaps their attorney has been getting continuances for them. For whatever variety of reasons in the legal system, they have not come to trial.

There are also people who will, for instance, be probated out on a charge and then have a probation violation, come into jail for a period of time, be rearrested, back and forth.

So there are a lot of people who are repeat customers, if you will, many of them here in cellblock a with me.

KING: We'll ask later with Greta and the sheriff why it's so tough, since jails are generally not supposed to be so tough since some of the people in jail haven't been proven anything, right? They're awaiting trial and haven't posted bail.

NORVILLE: Well, absolutely, yes. Yes.

KING: So why be tough on someone who's innocent?

NORVILLE: Yes, there are women here -- there are people here in the cellblock with me who have not yet had trials on the charges that are pending against them. One woman came in last night about 9 o'clock. She still hasn't even gone before a judge to have bond posted. So it's unclear when she'll get in front of a judge, because then another issue that certainly Greta can speak to with great authority is the overcrowded court dockets.

And you have to wait your turn in line. It's like going to the deli and picking a number. You've got to wait until your number's pulled to get in front of judge.

KING: Did you readily agree to this?

NORVILLE: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I'll be very, very honest. I -- I was scared. I didn't want to come here. I've got three kids, and I don't want to put myself in a potentially dangerous situation. And the fact of the matter is I'm wearing the orange jumpsuit, which means the people who are wearing the orange jumpsuits either have felony charges against them or extremely high bonds. So you can assume that they're the baddest of the bad who are in here. I didn't want to go and be with those people. But this was my assignment. And I'm a journalist. And the only way you learn what the situation is, is to go into the situation and experience it for yourself and try to report the facts that you've found.

KING: Did you tell your children where you were going?

NORVILLE: I didn't. I told my 8-year-old where I was going. I did not tell my 2-year-old and my 5-year-old, because I didn't think children that young could really process that mommy was reporting about the jail, not that mommy was in jail.

Unfortunately, my husband let them watch television earlier today, and my 2-year-old and 5-year-old saw it, and my little girl started crying. So I was kind of upset about that. But she's OK now. I talked to her today.

KING: Tell me about the process. Were you booked? Were you cuffed? Were you...

NORVILLE: I was. I was.

KING: Give me the...


... going in.

NORVILLE: Just as any other inmate was, I was handcuffed before I was brought into the facility, let in from outside.

It was pouring down rain, the grimmest possible day to come into jail, if you will. And the lieutenant brought me in, up the stairs, and then I was brought in for routine processing, which is a procedure that includes, first of all, standing spread eagle with your hands on an outline, if you will, of two hands and your legs apart. So they do a patdown search to make sure you're not carrying any weapons.

As you can see, I am not particularly excited to be going down the halls and up the stairs there.

KING: Did they -- did they invent a crime for you to be arrested on?

NORVILLE: No, I'm not here on any crime. I've been processed in because I haven't -- quote -- "committed" a crime or been charged with a crime. My papers were not filed in public record the way a routine inmate's would be.

But beyond that, the procedure for me has been the same as any person being processed through.

KING: Is one of the problems with this kind of story, Deborah, frankly, that when you have a camera, you never see the real story? That cop is aware he's on camera?


KING: The people there are aware they're on camera. The sheriff will be aware. The inmates are aware. So it can't be exactly as it is.

NORVILLE: Absolutely. And you know, that's the cross that we in television bear, as, you know, we at "Inside Edition" and you on CNN try to go out and cover the stories that we do. And that's frankly one of the reasons that we believe being here 24 hours a day, five days this week is going to allow us the opportunity to catch those situations when you forget the camera is there.

We have been here with the big cameras, the big A&G (ph) cameras, since wake-up call at 5 o'clock in the morning. And they are here past lights out, which is at 10 o'clock at night. But beyond that, we've got a handycam, a small digital camera that we're using, and a cellblock camera that we've installed that has an infrared lens. So we can film what's going on here at night too.

So we feel like we do have a camera anytime something might happen in here.

And it's an ebb and a flow situation. There's not always something happening. Mostly what's happening here is you're spending a lot of time, but that's part of the process...

KING: Yes.

NORVILLE: ... the wearing down of the individual who is here.

KING: Let me pick right up on this in a minute. You see it every night on "Inside Edition." That's Deborah Norville in prison in Davidson County, North Carolina. Greta Van Susteren is with me. We're going to meet the sheriff, another inmate. We'll be taking your calls as well. We're devoting the entire hour to this.

Tomorrow night, we'll be in Columbia, South Carolina for a 90- minute debate of the Republican candidates. I'll be the moderator. That's tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern.

We'll be right back with Deborah Norville and her plight after this.


KING: Has anybody yelled at you yet, Deborah?

NORVILLE: Yes, they have. The first night I was here. Every night, the ladies have the responsibility of sweeping and mopping out the cellblock, and the guard handed me the mop, and she didn't think I was taking it out and wringing it out fast enough. And she yelled at me, and I think I jumped about a mile high. I was scared.

KING: Why -- why do you look so good?

NORVILLE: My cheeks are flushed, because I'm nervous. I'm on television.

KING: And you're in your cell, right?

NORVILLE: I'm in my cell. Right behind me here is my room. This is the top bunk back here. That's where I sleep. It ain't much but we call it home.

And you've probably noticed these lovely pink walls. Maybe the reason I look rosy-cheeked is just the reflection off the walls.

The entire cellblock here both on the men's side of the facility and the women's side have these pink walls. It's one of the tricks that Sheriff Hege has instituted, that he thinks it's such a humiliating color that the inmates will so tire of it that they never want to come back and look at it again. Frankly, I would rather look at pink walls than green ones.

KING: No television?

NORVILLE: No television. Having your monitor in here to see the return on your show is a big thrill for all of us. No television, no newspapers, all of that. It's all banned.

KING: We're going to show some other film of the processing. Let's roll it. And you can describe what's happening to you. And then we'll bring Greta in and the sheriff.

Now, what are they doing here? What...

NORVILLE: Well, what they're doing here is they're writing out a wristband, which says that I am an inmate assigned to the a cellblock, which is where the higher security female inmates are held. That's my mug shot, which happily was taken while I still had makeup on. No makeup is allowed in the facility either.

And then they give you the uniform, and you hand over all of your personal items. The only thing you're allowed to keep is your underwear. And everything else they give to you. Give you a pair of flip-flops to wear and that's it.

And then after you've gotten all your items together, they hand you a blanket, a sheet, towel and a washcloth, and put them in your hands, and then tell you to march. And you go forward and pick up a mat that is going to be your bed for the next however many days, weeks or months that you may be living here.

KING: A mat?

NORVILLE: And it's all very intimidating -- mat. It's about a 2-inch-thick mattress that if you're lucky and get a bunk, you get to sleep on a still rack and then put the mattress on top of it.

If you're unlucky, then here in cellblock they call it "the beach." That's the area of the floor in the common area where women who didn't get here in time to get a bunk lay down and sleep at night.

KING: Where are you now?

NORVILLE: Right now, I'm waiting for them to hand me my blanket and the little personal kit, which is basically a toothbrush and a thing of deodorant and a small little comb to use.

KING: By the way, at this point, all of this is still a little show business to you, right? I mean, the camera's there, they're checking you in. You realize you're being -- you know, right?

NORVILLE: Yes, I realize I'm being...

KING: So far nothing's horrible.

NORVILLE: But what's going on in my head right then is, OK, yes, the cameras are here. I'm not scared yet. In a minute, they're going to walk me through this double door. And if you've been in a jail facility, you go through one door, they close it behind you, they open the second door.

After you pass through the second door, you're in there. I'm smiling...

KING: I know.

NORVILLE: ... but inwardly I'm quaking.

KING: Even when you're just visiting, there's nothing like those doors locking.

NORVILLE: There's -- even then, it's the most intimidating feeling. And I've reported in a lot of correctional facilities through my career. And -- and this was a completely different intimidating feeling. And when I came through those doors and started coming down the halls -- and here we go; we're coming through the set of doors. And they're very stern. I've got to tell you: It wasn't welcome to the county jail, Miss Norville. It was, you know, welcome to the county jail, but as an inmate you address us as sir and ma'am. These are our rules.

And this is my first glimpse inside the facility. And they're telling me to go forward but I don't know where to go. That's the bed. And you know, you're kind of used to someone helping you. Nobody's helping you. You've got to pick it up. And it's heavy and it's awkward, and I'm thinking, OK, you're being treated just like everyone else. And it's down the halls, and again, I don't know where I'm supposed to go.

And here she's unlocking the door that's going to open the door into cellblock a, which takes a moment or two. And this is it. I don't know who's in there. I don't know how they're going to respond to me. They know the TV lady's here. But I don't know how they're going to react to me.

And I just am saying hi. And they say, your room is going to be in here. And this young lady is named Becky. She's my roommate. And that's my bunk. KING: You have a common toilet?

NORVILLE: Yes, we have -- in each of the three cells, what you see there, there's a toilet in the back, and then there's a fourth toilet in the common area here. And it's been very interesting to see how people are protective of one another's privacy. This is an open cell. Anyone from the outside can walk past a door -- a wall of bars, and the ladies stand guard for each other.

They say, don't let any men come by. And they'll hold a male guard or an official from walking past until you've finished your business.

KING: Is your roommate still with you?

NORVILLE: No, my roommate got to go home this afternoon, and I wished her well. And I was glad for her, but I have to tell you, I think I and everybody else in here was a little bit jealous of her, because she's sleeping at her home with her family tonight and the rest of us are here with each other.

KING: What's the average length of stay in that jail?

NORVILLE: You'd have to ask the sheriff that.

KING: I will.

NORVILLE: I don't know what that is.

KING: OK. Let me get a break and we'll come back. Greta will have some questions for Deborah Norville. Deborah is with us for the entire hour. In a little while we'll bring in the sheriff and another inmate. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Deborah Norville, who is in the Davidson County Jail in Lexington, North Carolina. Doesn't get out until Wednesday, and you'll see it on INSIDE EDITION three straight nights including tonight.

And Greta Van Susteren, CNN's legal analyst, is with us here in Washington.

You've been to prison many times. You have clients, right, you go to prison.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, I've been to prison. There are very different prisons in this country. Some are sort of nice, and there are some where I've been where I've sat and talked to my client, and reached down because there's something on my leg, and there are roaches crawling up my neck.

KING: I know you know Deborah, right?

VAN SUSTEREN: I know Deborah, yes. KING: Would you have accepted this assignment?

VAN SUSTEREN: I think Deborah's done a great job. Actually, I much rather be right here asking Deborah a question than sitting there. You know, I'm smart enough to know that this is the better seat to be in tonight. But I do want to know, Deborah, I assume you've learned some new language there. Do you know what a shakedown is?

NORVILLE: Oh, I had a shakedown yesterday as a matter of fact.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is a shakedown?

NORVILLE: A shakedown for the uninitiated, which I was until about this time yesterday, is where they unexpectedly come into the cell, they tell everybody to get up and get up now, you're going outside, which means you have to put your striped uniform back on. And they lined us up.

And as each one of us came out of the door, we were handcuffed on one hand, and the other end of the handcuffs was attached to a chain to which all of us were attached. And one of the girls up ahead in the line said, "Oh, we're on the chain gang." So there's another term for you, which is exactly what we were.

And as a group, we were marched down the hall. We were put in a holding room while I don't know how many guards came through the room that we had just vacated, the cellblock, and turned the place upside down. The mattresses were upside down. The sheets were pulled off. All of the little boxes where you might have your personal items had been rifled through. And they were searching for contraband.

VAN SUSTEREN: Deborah, I also understand that you may have been trying to -- quote -- "sneak" some dangerous items into the prison in your underwear.


VAN SUSTEREN: I thought there was a problem with your underwear?

NORVILLE: Oh, yes, actually it's funny. An underwire bra is not permitted inside the facility. You had me confused there for a while. And they said, you can't -- you can't wear this bra, so I had to have them take a pair of scissors and cut the wires out of my brassiere so that I was allowed to keep that, because it would be very easy to take those out and they can become a weapon.

KING: What, Deborah, is eating like? What's the food like?

NORVILLE: If you remember the food you ate in grammar school at the cafeteria, it's about the same. It's not bad, to be honest with you. But we had a little bit of an incident.

This is our first meal. And lunch the first day was kind of a macaroni and meat sauce mixture. And your friend can't bring your meal to you. You must go to the door and accept it yourself. And when my producer, who was in the cellblock with me, Denise Albert (ph), got her meal, she noticed a hair on the macaroni. And I kind of wish she'd kept quiet about that, but unfortunately one of the other inmates overheard it and made an issue of it with one of the officers.

And I was -- it was for me a very tense moment. See, I just did a bad thing. I handed her, her meal.

And it was a very tense moment for me because I realized they might not like us saying that. They -- they -- I didn't know how they were going to handle it. And I just wanted to come in here and do nothing to upset the applecart. And I was very nervous that that was going to be an issue.

It wasn't. They couldn't see the hair. So she ate her lunch and I think just ate around the offensive little item.

KING: There's -- what time do you get up in the morning?

NORVILLE: Lights up at 5 o'clock. They bring the lights on. They open the doors. They clang and they bang, and they make you get out of bed. And then you have nothing to do until 6 o'clock, which is when breakfast is served. And then after breakfast is served you have nothing to do until about 11:30 or 12 o'clock when lunch is served. And then you have nothing to do until 5:30 or 6:00 when dinner is served.

KING: When you don't have a -- another inmate, what do you do all day? Do you just sit -- can you have books?

NORVILLE: Yes, you can have books, but it's books that are on a cart here and the selection is pretty grim. It's -- they're well-worn and they're kind of falling-apart paperbacks. Only paperback books are allowed. No newspaper are allowed of any sort in the facility. There's obviously no television. There is no outside time. Most facilities I have been at you get at least an hour out for exercise. We can't even tell you if it's daylight or dark outside.

KING: Sheriff Hege will join us. So will Marcella Martin, who is also an inmate. Deborah Norville, of course, remains. Greta Van Susteren is with me. I'm Larry King, and we'll all be right back.


INMATES: ... how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found...



KING: And now joining Deborah Norville in Davidson County Jail and Greta Van Susteren here in Washington with me is Sheriff Gerald Hege. Sheriff Hege is sheriff of Davidson County, North Carolina. If that face is familiar, it should be. He's the host of his own Court TV show called "Live From Cellblock F." He is in a different part of that jail right now.

Sheriff, why, for a jail, is this so tough?

SHERIFF GERALD K. HEGE, DAVIDSON COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: Well, a lot of people concentrate on prisons in the United States, but jail is the first thing that they come to. It's the first place you come to. It's the first bad experience.

And what we did, we came in when I first took office five years ago, and we take these first offenders -- that's the ones we really work on. And our recidivism rates dropped 72 percent.

This is a jail. It's a holding facility. It's not a prison. There's a lot of confusion. A lot of people get them confused. This is a holding facility.

KING: And therefore, there are some people in there who haven't been adjudicated anything. They haven't posted bail, right?

HEGE: That's correct, and it's not our...

KING: Why should they be -- why should they be treated harshly if they're not guilty?

HEGE: Well, they're not treated harshly. They're just treated like everyone else. It's not our responsibility. That's up to the judge and the jury and the court system to define who's guilty and who's not when you get them into trial. It's the sheriff, his responsibility.

They bring them in, say: All right, sheriff, hold these people until we're ready to process them.

VAN SUSTEREN: Sheriff, what makes your jail different from other jails? How would you characterize your jail?

HEGE: Well, it's a tough jail. When I came into office five years ago -- most jails are -- this place was a zoo. They had TV. They had 24-hour-a-day cable. They had cigarettes. They had coffee, tea. And the sex offenders' dorm was about 60 guys. They had dirty explicit magazines, and that was causing a problem. Had a lot of fights and different things like that.

And we took all of these things away. Everybody said, we had rights, and all this kind of stuff. But it's just the opposite of that. We taught these people manners: how to say "Yes, sir," "No, sir." How -- you know, they were throwing urine on guards and things like that.

So we just pretty much treat everyone the same, and once the inmates have seen that -- you know, that we haven't had some problems. But they see that: Hey, look, the rich guy over here, the doctor's son, he's right back here in the same block I'm in, and he's in the same tough.

VAN SUSTEREN: Sheriff, I can understand, you know, disciplinary issues: throwing urine on a guard or another inmate. But I guess what troubles me is taking television and even phone privileges away from people who may be innocent.

HEGE: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: These are some people who are in your prison who have never done anything wrong -- or your jail rather.

HEGE: Well, you've said you've been in -- you've said you've been in a lot of prisons, a lot of jails. But there's 200 people here, and oddly enough -- and I know it's surprising not to you -- all 200 are innocent. There's not one person here who's guilty of their crime if you talk to them.

So it's not up to the sheriff or the jailers to decide who's innocent. So you can't change the rules for people who are convicted, who are being sentenced and who are being sent inside the jail.

KING: And what, sheriff, is the thinking behind, let's say, no newspapers? Why can't a prisoner see a newspaper?

HEGE: For instance, if you've got -- especially in these a blocks and F blocks where the real tough guys are, if you see -- and it's happened before. We had a guy in there who was in jail, been there two weeks. Another man came in. The first man read that this guy had molested his sister at a ball game and a big fight broke out, and he tried to kill him right there in the block.

So you've got to remember these people live in a different world. And you know, we found out that those newspapers -- they would take the AC wiring and try to set them on fire in the jails.

KING: Did you say to the "Greensboro News & Record" -- you were quoted as saying about Deborah -- "She don't have a clue what she's getting into. We'll see how tough she is."

HEGE: Yes, that's correct. And she didn't, by the look on her face. And you know, she's -- no matter how famous you are, whether you're O.J., whether you're Deborah Norville, when that door slams and you're in there with the regular people -- and I knew that someone back in the main office didn't tell her what she was getting into, just the toilette and the showers and those kinds of things.

KING: Deborah, is -- is -- what were your pre-thoughts about Sheriff Hege and have they changed?

NORVILLE: Well, I didn't have any real preconditions about Sheriff Hege, because I know he prides himself on running a jail that is considered the toughest around the country. And if I have one criticism -- and I actually expressed it with the sheriff earlier today -- it is that the inmates who are here for whatever period of time, many of them have problems. In this room, we did a poll yesterday, and all but one person raised their hand when I asked if they had had any drug or alcohol abuse problems. People who have addictions need assistance to get off whatever the addictive substance is. And it seems to me if the church ladies can come as they did twice on Saturday and hand out tracks and lead a prayer service, it seems to me the folks from the drug rehabilitation service here in town ought to be able to get down here and hand out some literature that will give concrete, good information to help them get off the substances, to help them find adequate birth control.

There are so many women who are in here who are mothers who are not married, who were mothers of one, two and three kids before they hit 25.

All of these issues may not relate to the crime specifically, but it certainly relates to the quality-of-life issues that might have had a bearing on the crime with which they're charged.

KING: Before Greta has a question -- sheriff, how do you respond to that?

HEGE: Well, I mean, all of these agencies are free to bring these things up here, these brochures. But unfortunately, those days are on Saturdays and Sundays, and those people don't work on Saturdays and Sundays. So we have never turned anyone down from bringing in any kind of literature.

But most of the time, sadly enough -- and this is the truth -- when you bring that literature up here, most of the time you find it in the trash can.

KING: Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: Deborah, jails obviously have some purpose in this country. We need to protect the community when necessary. Rate this jail. Is Sheriff Hege doing a good job or is this a terrible place?

NORVILLE: No, I mean, yes, it's a terrible place to be, and that's exactly what Sheriff Hege wants it to be. I can't tell you if it's changing people's lives. My -- I don't have any knowledge of what happens to these people when they leave. I know that there are women in here who have been here before. There are some girls who are called "regulars" by some of the correction -- by some of the officers who are here.

So I can't tell you if it's having the desired effect. He has his statistics, and we have to take them, you know, at face value.

KING: And we'll elaborate on that, and we'll meet another inmate as well. When we say another, because Deborah is an inmate until Wednesday.

This is LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.


KING: Our subject tonight is the Davidson County Jail in Lexington, North Carolina. Deborah Norville is there, Sheriff Hege is there. Greta Van Susteren is with me. Now also with us is Marcella Martin. She is an inmate at Davidson County Jail. She, as I understand it is, in for first-degree arson, assault with a deadly weapon, inflicting serious injury.

Were you conflicted, Marcella or are you charged with this crime?

MARCELLA MARTIN, DAVIDSON COUNTY JAIL INMATE: I guess I'm -- this is what they charged me with. I haven't been to court yet. I've been waiting 18 months to go but I haven't been yet.

KING: Why 18 months?

MARTIN: I guess it's the court system. They're backed up, they say, and I've been trying to get in contact with my lawyer, writing and calling and stuff, but I never get no response.

KING: I don't understand. Were you offered -- you had to be offered bail, right?


KING: You were unable to post bail?

MARTIN: That's true.

KING: So you've been in there 18 months awaiting trial and you can't reach your lawyer?

MARTIN: No, it's -- most of the time that I call, right, he hangs up the majority of the time. And I wrote him several letters, you know, week after week, but I get no reply.

VAN SUSTEREN: Marcella, do you have access to the telephones on a regular basis to call your lawyer?

MARTIN: Yes, I do.

VAN SUSTEREN: How often can you make -- place a call to him?

MARTIN: Between 8:00 and 4:00, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

VAN SUSTEREN: And what does he say to you when you call and say whatever you say to him? I assume you want a court date, right?

MARTIN: Well, the secretary, she hangs up.

KING: Now, Sheriff, can you get involved with this at all? Can you say -- I mean, let's say 18 months seems like a ridiculous time to be waiting to go to trial.

HEGE: That's correct.

KING: Can you contact a lawyer? It seems out of whack.

HEGE: Well I think she's had a couple of lawyers, I believe. She's been appointed or she didn't like and -- you know, the lawyer system here -- I don't think it's quite like she says it is. I think several lawyers have been involved in this and she's dismissed those lawyers for various reasons. And this has went on for 18 months.

You know, we can't interfere with that. That's up to the judge, the D.A. and her attorney. And...

KING: Has Marcella been any kind of a problem?

HEGE: She's -- no, not really, not really. She's here for a very, very serious crime, a very serious crime. But she hasn't been a whole lot of problem. She's like anyone else who's locked up for a long time. You know, 18 months is a long time. And she gets an attitude, which I can understand that. I'd be -- I'd have an attitude as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: Marcella, do you have the sense that Deborah Norville is getting a true picture inside that jail, or do you think she's getting a little different view because she's a famous person?

MARTIN: No, I think she's -- it's the way -- well, she's been here since Saturday, but I think since she been here, everybody -- that the way the woman inmates be treated. You know, the same way she's been here, she's been treated the same way.

But I think the court system should do something, because it's very stressful being here so long, a period of time. But I had the same lawyer for this length of time. It's been the same lawyer. I don't know what the problem is, but I just want to be -- you know, get it over with so I can go on with my life.

KING: And, Deborah, could you imagine that if you haven't been charged with something you'd be after 18 months a little out of your mind?

NORVILLE: I would be more than a little out of my mind.

KING: I mean, if you haven't had -- no trial.

NORVILLE: I would be beside myself. And obviously, you know, I can't give Marcella advice, but I'd try to find me another lawyer, somebody who doesn't hang up on me. Because that's inexcusable. And if somebody from local legal aid is listening, they ought to get down here on Saturday and make an appointment to see this lady, because there is -- Greta, you know this. And I forget which amendment it is, but there is something called the right to a speedy trial, and I think we may be getting into a less-than-speedy situation here.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's hard to figure out exactly what Marcella's problem is, but, you know, sometimes it's very difficult. Even a lawyer might be running into problems where a judge, for instance, won't set it for trial, or you may have a difficult client for whatever reason. I don't know what Marcella's problem is.

But, Marcella, how many lawyers have you been through so far?

MARTIN: Just the same one from day one.

KING: Well then why don't you get another lawyer? MARTIN: Well, they -- I've wrote, but they told me that I have to have a paid lawyer in order for me to change that. I have wrote several times trying to get a new lawyer.

NORVILLE: I'll tell you, Larry -- I'll tell you from an inmate's perspective, too, one of the situations here is you are in this cell, and it's very difficult for you from the inside to reach out. You have your inmate friends here who can tell you, well, so and so can tell you and so and so can help you. And there are people here who are being bailed out by total strangers because a friend called and said help this person get out.

But if you don't have any other resources -- now right here next to the telephone, there's a list of lawyers' phone numbers. You don't know which one to pick up, and you can only make a collect call. And I daresay if Marcella up and says, collect call from Marcella, they are going to hang up if they don't know who she is. So she needs an entree. And when you're locked from the inside it's almost impossible to get that.

KING: And the sheriff, of course, Sheriff Hege, you're powerless to do anything in something like this, right? You're merely the inn keeper.

HEGE: Well, you've got a legal scholar there, and she knows that something's amiss here. When you've got a telephone there and over a hundred lawyers in Davidson County, you can find a lawyer. Evidently, the lawyer's having a problem with her. For 60 bucks an hour to $80 an hour the taxpayers have to pay these appointed lawyers. They'll line up down here if you call them.

I mean, you know, I can't dispute what she's saying, but I think your legal scholar knows that with the phone available for eight hours a day and with over 100 lawyers in town that something's amiss here.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what, though, Larry, I...

KING: Seems weird, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, yes, indeed it does. And she has a right to counsel and she has a right to trial. But I will tell you that oftentimes these appointed lawyer systems aren't as great as everybody thinks. The fact that they have a phone with a list of names just isn't going to do it. That isn't going to get her lawyer. She needs a lawyer to come down and see her, and these lawyers aren't paid enough often. I mean, they don't get paid on time, they're oftentimes starving. They're court-appointed lawyers. You know, it's not a great system.

KING: When we come back, we'll ask Deborah and Marcella -- Marcella as well -- about life behind bars day to day.

Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Baby, he'll be home soon. You said you'd take care of him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do take care of him.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those are not mine. I do take care of them. Those are not my children.



KING: All right, Deborah, you're playing cards. What's going on there?

NORVILLE: A little fight. As the sheriff said, even he'd be climbing the walls when you're locked up in here.

This space that I'm in is about a 12 by 8 feet wide, the common area. The cells are 5 feet by 8 feet. There's not as lot of room to maneuver. There's nowhere to go and be by yourself. And what happened there is while we were in the middle of playing cards, two women started talking about their kids. And one woman made a comment that the other woman took exception to, and the voices got raised. And if you saw me, I was just sitting there playing my cards because the rule is you don't get in anybody else's business. I think Marcella would back me up on that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Deborah, can you sleep at night or is there noise all night long?

NORVILLE: It is deafening. It's constant...

KING: What kind of noise.

NORVILLE: ... it's unexpected. It's everything. It may be the men in J block start taking their bars for reasons that make no sense and going like this and the whole place reverberates. Or there's someone down the hall that way who's howling at the moon or something. And the guards, God bless them, they're the noisiest people in the world. They have to come by twice an hour to do bed check. they have to scan to make sure that everybody's is in, and they slam the doors and the keys go like this and it's all hard surfaces and I don't have a pillow either.

I mean, it's really -- the girls are sitting here, they're laughing at me, but they're totally backing me up on this. It's extremely noisy around here. and, in fact, our being here with the cameras has completely disrupted the normal routine. Normally, the girls sleep during the day because there's nothing much to do between lunch and dinner and breakfast. And so at night when the lights go out, that's when they start chatting and that's when they start sharing their news with each other and, as they put it inside here, communicating.

It gets noisy.

KING: Sheriff, there are some critics who say that you rule by intimidation. How do you respond?

HEGE: They're exactly correct. You know, I'm a Vietnam veteran, I slept in the jungles, leeches eating on my leg, flies, big rats bigger than dogs followed me for a year. And, you know, these people, most of these people in here, whether they're flim-flam artists, whether they've written a bad check, whether they've robbed people, whether they've tried to kill people, they've spent most of their life intimidating other people, taking advantage of people, taking advantage of the young, the elderly.

And, you know, when they come in here, it's a new experience for them. For once in their life, they're being intimidate. And it works. You know, it may not work everywhere, but it works here in Davidson County.

KING: Let's get a call in. Swansea, Illinois -- hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. My question is for Deborah. I was wondering if any of the inmates have approached her to help them with their cases.

NORVILLE: No, they haven't approached me to help with their cases, although earlier today one girl who had a court date at 3:00 this afternoon had written a letter to the judge that she wanted to read in front of him. And she asked me to go over that with her, and I gave her a few little pointers for her letter. But I haven't gotten involved in specific cases.

KING: Marcella, what is the biggest problem you have in jail? What's the worst thing about it for you?

MARTIN: Well, it's very stressful at times, right? Most of the time I read and I pray. But right through here, I would like to get out on bond, you know, so I can get my witnesses together for my trial, because I'm trying not to go to penitentiary for something I didn't do. And I need my freedom most of all at this particular time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Marcella, is it dangerous there? Have you been physically abused in any way?

MARTIN: No, I'm quite sure I could handle my own self.

VAN SUSTEREN: Deborah, have you seen anything like that? Any abuse by other inmates on inmates or any of the correctional officers?

MARTIN: No, I haven't. And to the sheriff's credit, he runs a tight ship here. The officers keep a very close eye on things. And respect is something that they demand. And if you don't respect an officer and they feel you've been a little too mouthy with them or whatever, they'll do something that they call roll you -- roll you up. And that means you go into your cell and the doors are locked behind you -- which doesn't seem like it's that big a deal because it's not that much of a different space and you can talk to your friends on the other side of the bar, but it means that you can't get to the telephone and make phone calls and you can't get to the shower unless they unlock you and give you permission. And just the removal of those two privileges is very, very stressful.

KING: Do you take communal showers, Deborah? You take showers with everyone else?

MARTIN: No, no, it's a single shower stall and everybody takes turns. And there's a shower curtain over it, and people are very respectful of one another's privacy, I've found here.

KING: Newport, North Carolina -- hello.

CALLER: Hi, I have a question for Deborah.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: A lot of people think that jail is not a good deterrent for someone to repeat a crime, but I would like to know since you've been there -- and especially Mr. Hege's jail -- what do you think?

NORVILLE: I sure don't ever want to come back here. I said I'd come back to do a follow-up story, but I'm coming back as a journalist, not as an inmate.

I'd like to think that coming here is a deterrent, but what I've seen here are people who are repeat visitors to this facility. So there's something else that's not happening in their lives that's deterring them from ending up here. Maybe it's a probation violation. It seems stupid to me to miss an appointment with your probation officer if that's going to land you in jail. But that's what's going on. So there's poor decision making that's resulting in a lot of people ending up here. And that doesn't make sense to me. I don't know that putting them in a harsh facility is going to make them sensible.

KING: Why, Sheriff, do you believe that punishment works?

HEGE: Well, I seen it when I was growing up. I got punished. When I got a whipping over something I did, I didn't do it again. And that's what's happening here. You know, five years ago you would have 25 people in the cell, repeat offenders every one of them. Now you may have three or four.

You know, people don't want to come back to a facility like this, and they spread the word. Regardless of what they might say about me, it doesn't matter. But they'll go out and hit that street, go to Virginia, go to Maryland. Wherever they go, they'll say, look, you don't want to go down to his jail. It's a tough place to be. Don't go there. And you know what? That's what I want. I don't want them to come back.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what the problem is, though, Larry, is that you're not supposed to punish people who are being held pre- trial. You're holding them for another reason. And you run the risk when you put people who are doing time for a crime and people who are just accused...

KING: Well how do other jails handle it?

HEGE: Everybody -- Larry, everybody gets a bond. Everybody gets a chance to get out of jail. Her bond, Marcella's bond, has been dropped from $50,000 to $5,000. For $750, she could have been out of this jail a long time ago.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but $750 to Marcella might be, you know, a billion dollars to somebody else. It's totally out of reach. That's the problem. I mean...

HEGE: Well, cocaine...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... $750 doesn't seem like a lot to me, but it probably does to Marcella.

HEGE: Well, some of these girls are in here doing a $200-a-day drug habit, so $700 isn't a whole lot of money to these people.

KING: Let me get a break and come back with more. Our guests are Deborah Norville, Marcella Martin, Sheriff Gerald Hege and Greta Van Susteren.


Wednesday night, Nick Nolte -- not about acting, something medical that will amaze you.

Tomorrow night, our big debate in South Carolina.

We'll be right back.


KING: Deborah Norville, before we take another call from outside the area, we're going to go kind of inside the house because your husband Karl is on the phone.

Karl, are you there?


NORVILLE: I can't believe this is the way we're spending Valentine's Day.

WELLNER: This is not the way I expected it either, but hey, better to have some communication than none.

NORVILLE: Oh, you're a sweetheart. Thank you for calling. Are the kids OK?

WELLNER: The kids are great, everything is fine. Hang in there. NORVILLE: All right, we will. Thank you.

KING: The little child who was upset by the prison, is it OK now, Karl?

WELLNER: She's perfectly fine. I explained it to her and she was fine. She was just surprised to see mommy on television looking like that. She looks very tired.

KING: Does she look tired to you right now?

WELLNER: She does, certainly.

KING: What did you make of this, Karl, this whole idea?

WELLNER: Well, I didn't think it was a great idea at all, but, you know, duty calls. And if you're a journalist, it comes with the territory, so...

KING: Did you try to -- did he try to talk you out of it, Deborah?

NORVILLE: No. I mean, he knew that this was not something I was particularly keen on, but he also knew that it was really important to the program and to my work and that, you know, if this was something that was important to do that, you know, just make sure the right precautions were in place and go in there and do the best darn job you could.

KING: Will you be there when she gets out Wednesday, Karl?

WELLNER: Oh, absolutely. I won't be there, but I'll definitely meet her at the airport with more than a dozen roses.


KING: And the children, I hope?

WELLNER: Oh, and the children, of course. They can't wait for mommy to come home. And it's hard to explain to them that mommy's in jail but she's not really in jail.

KING: Yes, how does a kid figure that out?

Karl, I thank you very much for joining us, and I know you -- you can say it again to Deborah whatever you want to say.

Happy Valentine's Day, love. Elks ka day (ph).

NORVILLE: Thanks, Elsling (ph). Elks ka day also.

WELLNER: Bye-bye.


KING: What did you say, Deborah? NORVILLE: I said I love you in Swedish.

KING: Ah-hah. He's from Sweden?

NORVILLE: My husband's Swedish, yes.

KING: Elks ka day.

NORVILLE: Elks ka day. Try it out in Washington.

KING: OK, Renton, Washington -- hello.

Did I say that wrong?

NORVILLE: No, that was perfect.

KING: OK, Renton, Washington -- hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi, go ahead.

CALLER: This is for -- this question is for Sheriff Hege please.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: How much does it cost per person her day to house an inmate?

HEGE: It costs about $35 a day, about $35 a day.

KING: Is that on the low end as we look at this nationally?

HEGE: Yes. Oh, yes, that's the low end. If you have any kind of medical problem, it can shoot up there. If you have -- you have, you've got to be responsible for these people. If they have open heart surgery here, we pay for every bit of it. You know, if they hurt a knee, whatever. so it can go from $35 a day up to $110 a day.

KING: Deborah, you ever come in contact yet with male inmates?

NORVILLE: No, I have not. I think when I was being processed in I saw an older man who was working in the kitchen, and the male inmates, I guess trustees, prepare the food in the kitchen. And he was peeking out the door at me. That's the closest I've gotten to anybody. There's absolute segregation. And that's by state law. It has to be that way.

KING: But you hear them at night?

NORVILLE: Oh, do we hear them at night -- yes.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments, pick up with a question from Greta on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Marcella, is it true that you complained about Deborah coming in?

MARTIN: No, not really. I think it's probably a good experience for her coming in. It's, you know, getting firsthand of it, you know, things herself, you know, how things are really ran here and how it feels to be an inmate. But even though she gets to go home when it's -- that's a little bit different.

KING: It is, Deborah. You will admit that. A lot different when you know you're going home.

NORVILLE: It is, but I'll tell you what. The lady I mentioned earlier who had a court appearance, she came back and she has a release date. And just knowing that April 4th she'll be going home just like I'm going on Wednesday, she said it's OK now. Everything's good. She has something to look forward to. Because imagine staring into the abyss and seeing nothing. That's what it's like for people like Marcella and others who don't have trial dates and don't have any expectation of when their stay here is either going to end altogether or get them transferred to the next facility. That's very, very wearing.

KING: Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: Deborah, are you convinced that some of your colleagues there in the jail are innocent?

NORVILLE: No, I'm not, not at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you met any -- have you met any that you think might be innocent?

NORVILLE: I'm sleeping here for the next two nights.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you one other question then. You know, even in -- I don't mean to minimize what the environment of a jail, but are there light moments? Have you had a chance to sort of laugh with those that you are incarcerated with?

NORVILLE: Yes, there are. And I think I created one of them this afternoon. Things got a little stressful. We had probably more technical problems doing our program than we should have, and I blew up a little bit. And after I blew up, all the girls in here applauded me. They said, you just like one of us.

So it helped them to know that I can lose it, too. And that was a real lesson for me that the stress of being in such a confined environment, even for the brief period that I've been here, is really taxing. And so when someone blows up and mouths off at a guard or goes after somebody else about their kids, I totally understand where that emotion and that lightning-fast trigger comes from. Because I don't do that, but I did today. So I'm sorry to my bosses.

KING: Sheriff, do you -- are there ever times, Sheriff, you doubt your methods?

HEGE: No. No, it works. It's worked for five years, and we'll continue to do it. The best message here for everyone to get out of all of this is just simply don't come. Don't come to jail, you know? Don't come here, you won't have to have this experience. But, you know, as long as they come it's going to be that way here.

KING: You would be very happy with empty cells.

HEGE: Oh, yes. You know, I don't want anybody here, so don't come. But a lot of these people who come back to -- it's like being married three or four times. You know, I don't understand that. Why they keep coming back, I don't know. But this is not a place to come back.

And the ladies you see that repeatedly come back, they have problems. They have serious emotional problems, they have all kind of problems. But the ones who come in for one time and go, hey, they learned their lesson.

KING: Marcella, do you think you're going to be able to prove your innocence?

MARTIN: I should hope so, Larry. If I can just make bond, I can prove my innocence.

KING: Well the sheriff said it's down to -- you can get out for $750. That seems -- someone should come up with that for you.

MARTIN: Well, some people might have that and some people, you know, can't afford it, right? But I'm just leaving it all in God's hands, right? You know, and everything will be all right.

KING: Greta, you think some lawyer will be running down there tomorrow hopefully ?



VAN SUSTEREN: No, absolutely not. See, that's what people don't understand is that these lawyers aren't getting paid a lot. I mean, in some cases, for instance, they have about a $1,500 cap on a death penalty case. I mean, lawyers don't get rich off cases like Marcella. Those are usually lawyers who are either young and are willing to take the cases on and not make any money, or you get some people who are really down-and-out and don't know what they're doing.

KING: And finally, Deborah, learn a lot so far?

NORVILLE: I've learned an awful lot. And I think that certainly I share Sheriff Hege's wish that no one would end up here, but I would suggest that if you do end up here there ought to be some counseling services for those emotionally challenged people that need them, some drug rehabilitation information, some birth control information. Some information is going to help these folks address the problems that were also in the picture as they entered that door just as I did on Saturday.

KING: Thank you all very, very much. Thanks very much, Greta. Thanks, Deborah.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you.

NORVILLE: Thank you.

KING: Tomorrow night, we'll be in Columbia, South Carolina with messieurs Keyes, Bush and McCain. An hour and a half debate tomorrow night, the primary is Saturday.

Back here Wednesday night with Nick Nolte.

Stay tuned for CNN "NEWSSTAND." They're going to talk about the Internet and politics.

Thanks for joining us. Good night.



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