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tv   America Tonight  Al Jazeera  August 2, 2015 1:30am-2:01am EDT

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showed their enthusiasm. an early taste of next year's olympics game. they will have to get used to being the focus of world attention. a reminder you can always keep up to date with all the latest news on our website. >> on america tonight. life on the outside. for a generation aging out of the system. america tonight's michael with a struggle these seniors face in their second acts. and also ahead, the house of screams. the torture that took place inside this chicago police department, lisa fletcher with the victim forced to confess and the truth that set them free. >> what does that say? >> i'm a free man. that i was actually innocent of this case. innocent.
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>> thanks for joining us. i'm joie chen. when we think of torture chambers abu ghraib comes to mind. on chicago's south side that precinct was well-known to the community as the house of screams. where america tonight easily is a fletcher found one of the city's darkest chapters took place. survivors tell you the tell which includes racist abusive language we would not normally hear on tv, but you will hear now as it helps to paint the picture of the terror that took place. >> ronald kitchen never thought he would hear these words. >> we have ways of making nigger's talk. >> he was not being held against his will by men in white hoods or neo-nazis. he was in the hands of the
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chicago pd. >> what i'm going to do, i'm going to introduce you to the telephone book and the night stick. he used a big 'ol night stick on top of your head and just start beating it. so i'm sitting there. he's telling me, you did this. we know you did this. >> this was a highly publicizeed quintuple murder. but when they picked up kitchen they told him it was for auto theft. after hours of integration at this police station, kitchen realized the auto theft arrest was simply a means to an end. >> he held me to stand up, nigger, handcuffed me to my back and he put that any of tech between my legs. and he put it against the wall and he lifts off my feet.
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and he grinds and he grinds. >> for more than 16 hours kitchen says a revolving door of officers beat and interrogated him until he had no fight left. >> i said, okay, okay, i do whatever you want me to do. whatever you want me to do, i'll do it. >> you'll sign a confession. >> i'll sign. >> based solely on his confession and the testimony of an imprisoned informant who was later discredited, kitchen was found guilty of all five murders and sentenced to death. it would not be until years later that kitchen realized he was not alone. kitchen's case tragic as an isolated incident. terrifying as a pattern and practice of some members of the chicago police department. who tortured more than 100 men mostly african-americans from 1971 to 1992. >> the city tried to keep these reports from being released. >> in 1989 working on a tip
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investigative journalist john conroy discovered hauntingly similar reports from suspects claiming to be tortured by chicago police. >> give us tense of the type of torture that was used by the officers. >> well, the most well-known is electric shock. as far as we know there were three electrical devices. there was one prisoner, andrew wilson, who was burned against a hot radiator. russian roulette was played. >> at the center of it all, john burns is the face of this dark chapter of chicago's history. >> why were you so tenacious. >> people were going to die, and nobody was doing anything. there were a dozen men on death row who were there on suspect confessions. >> ronald kitchen was one of them. he spent 21 years locked up. 13 of those on death row. but in the wake of mounting torture
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allegations governor george ryan made an unprecedented decision to clear all 167 of the state's death row inmates. in 2009, after spending half his life behind bars, kitchen was exonerated. but in a cruel twist the woman who believed in that innocence all along would never get to celebrate ronald's freedom. >> well, my mother was and is that's my soldier. so when i come home she has dementia. she has dementia. so now i'm free, now she's locked up, in her head. i go to her house, she couldn't even recognize me. >> bunker was convicted not for the torture itself because the statute of limitations had run out, but for lying about it.
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he spent four and a half years behind bars for perjury and obstruction of justice. today he's a free man. and he still receives his police pension. advocates pressured the city for decades for more accountability. in 2013 introducing the idea of reparation s. >> this year chicago became the first city in the nation to approve a reparations ordinance for victims of police abuse and torture. >> the thing is, let's talk about it, let's expose them for what they are, and make changes. it's about making changes. >> next, an inmate takeover led by the prisoner who announced this is my jail. america tonight's adam may with a shocking look behind bars, and an even more surprising warning about who is keeping watch on our prisons.
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later, aging out. they have paid their debt to society, but how to find their way back. >> al jazeera america primetime. get the real news you've been looking for. at 7:00, a thorough wrap-up of the day's events. then at 8:00, john seigenthaler digs deeper into the stories of the day. and at 9:00, get a global perspective. weeknights on al jazeera america.
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>> growing up fast. >> my quest is to find me and me is not here. >> fighting for a better future. >> if you don't go to college you're gonna end up dead on the streets. >> life changing moments. >> i had never been bullied, everyone hates me. >> from oscar winning director alex gibney. >> shut the cam --. >> a hard hitting look at the real issues facing american teens. the incredible journey continues.
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>> it is a debt paid to society but the costs remain steep. the fastest growing prison population are inmates over 50. a group that has grown 25% in just the last four years. aging prisoners are a huge financial burden more than most states can afford. but there is a price to setting them free, too. we have the tough sentence many face on the outside. >> i started using drugs when i was 15.
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i'm 57, and i've been to the penitentiary once. i've had two county convictions. >> jeffrey washington has been in and out of the criminal justice system for the past 24 years. one of the fast-growing groups behind bars. older prisoners. in just a few days he's getting out. >> and the last thing i want to do is to come back here this morning. >> there are about 250,000 prisoners over 50 in the u.s. thanks to stricter laws and mandatory minimums many of them have been in prison a long time. when they are released they're in an unique disadvantage. the world they're entering is vastly different than the world they left. >> again, a list of employers who will work with felons. >> that is as good as gold to. >> you this is as good as gold. this is a prescription. everyone wants this prescription to stay alive and free.
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>> jeffrey is in a block called re-entry pond. it helps prisoners get ready for the world. >> repeat offenders, this requires attention. >> san francisco sheriff office helped to launch the program. he says at the time that the u.s. criminal justice system lacked a mechanism to prepare the growing number of older offenders like jeffrey washington for re-entry. >> we need to start working with seniors because it's a growing population. >> what do seniors face when they're released back into society that perhaps younger men and women do not. >> significant arthritis diabetes, just overall over health. >> prison will age you 10 to 12 years past your chronological age. there is stress just being an
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elder in prison. >> frank williams knows something about the stress of life behind bars . >> i was incarcerated under federal indictment for embezzlement. i also was convicted for narcotics possession, and narcotics for sell. those were my convictions. >> i can just see it in your eyes there is some shame talking about it. >> well, when you use drugs you become numb. you don't want to feel. >> after serving time in san quentin, frank turned his life around 18 years ago and has not looked back. >> my past is my purpose. see, my past and the reason why i do today. >> frank found his purpose in helping others over come addictions and struggles. he's now the director of the senior exofenders program or s.e.o.p. a community-based pipeline of resources temporary housing, therapists, job
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counselors that help older offenders. >> what specific challenges do seniors face after incarceration? >> the shame that they get from society. you know, you that old? you need some help? that's on you. those are your consequences. >> what specifically does your program do? >> we do case management. we do alcohol and drug counseling, we bring mental health providers, we inspire them and motivate them to look at what their purpose is in life. >> they have helped 60 inmates to achieve self sufficiency so far. it does not work for everyone, but for some it gives them the confidence they never felt before. >> i finished the program about a month ago. they helped me. steered me to a clear slate. helped me get all my felonies down to misdemeanors, they helped me with bank accounts and with therapy as well. >> what specifically do they
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help you with in therapy, why is that significant to you? >> i never graduated from anything in my life. i never graduated from high school. when i got that certificate, i cried. because i finally accomplished something. >> it's a certificate for completion from culinary school. with the help of frank williams and s.e.o.p. he now works five days a week cooking meals for the very agency that got him back on his feet. >> do you sometimes think that you know, when you're chopping up corn bread this sure beats life on the streets? >> oh, yeah, i don't even think about the streets any more. [ chuckling ] >> do you ever look back and think where would i have been were it not for that year and a half working with this program? >> i would be dead. seriously. i would say, or in prison again.
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>> jail is the intersection of so many wrongs of a person's life. coming through something like this helps you to learn better habits, better skills, and unlearn the kind of habits or responses that you just shouldn't have. >> were there any programs like the one that you now run around when you were in prison? >> no. that's why i do what i do, man because we got to learn how to love each other. we got to learn how to love ourselves. if someone was there for me, man. >> what do you say to people who say, why should i care about these people? >> people made a mistake in life, but somebody was there for them. nobody make it alone. that's the premise of our program. we should be there for them. >> give me a sense and for all those people watching, who can't even imagine what it must be like to be 57 years old, and an ex-convict, about what challenges you face. >> when i turn 62 years old i
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qualified for $550 a month in ssi retirement funds. in san francisco you can't even rent a closet for $550 a month. nowhere in the united states basically can you rent an argument and sustain your medical bills, your food, just day-to-day survival, $550 a month. >> you haven't had a job history over the past ten years, so what is it that you can do? what can you get hired for. when you do go apply for it as an exofender, we're not hiring exofenders. they got great stigma upon them when they come out. >> where do you think you would be in this day if you weren't getting these kind of services. >> i might be going back to crime. >> really? >> you say that without pausing. >> it's true. i know i have to man up. i have to be helping myself.
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i got to show up for my own day-to-day responsibilityies, but nobody is just going to give me a job and a paycheck. so all of those are challenges. i'm ready to confront them head on. and change for the better or find myself back here in orange, and it is no place to be. especially . >> al jazeera. san francisco. >> that's "america tonight." tell us what you think at tonight. talk to us on twitter or facebook, and come back we'll >> what did you see when you went outside last year? >> there was a dead body in the middle of the street... for 5 hours. >> there's a lot of work to be done.
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>> they need to quite talking about what should be done and do it. >> there's clearly an issue and we have to focus on how we bridge that. >> a lot of innocent lives are still being lost. >> if i don't get into the programs that i want it would really make me second-guess my pursuing a career in dance. it would definitely mean i'm not ready for a professional career. my future is in my hands right now. >> i live on the west side of chicago. it's a good chance you get shot here but you never know when it can happen. in this neighborhood not a lot of people went to college. i'm supposedly supposed to be the child who makes it. >> i feel like you're going on a downward trend. >> today your dad took me for a walk.