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tv   Lockup  MSNBC  June 8, 2013 9:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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due to mature and graphic subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. there are 2 million people behind bars in america. for the next hour we open the gates. "lockup." >> it's not our job to extract justice. it's our job to keep these people in these cells here. >> pretty rough, you know. >> you eat yourself. >> it's an adventure every day. >> you can't let your guard down for a second. >> you know where mommy is? and he says, yeah, in jail. >> nobody plans on coming to jail. i don't think they do. i don't. it just happened. >> how come you're all in there? are you having a party in there?
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>> as you can see, i've got concrete bars. i don't have any place to expand. i can't make another cell. >> i'm not a very violent person, but i can be violent when i want to. >> a lot of people in here with hiv. >> the first one looks like a wire shank. >> a stabbing. knocking a guy down and just kicking him until he's bleeding. >> these kids don't know how to act like proper gangsters anymore. >> los angeles county, california, has a population larger than 42 states in the nation. nearly 10 million people live there. it is also the home to one of the largest jail systems in the world. more than 20,000 men and women live within the eight different facilities spread across 50 miles of southern california. unlike a prison, where an inmate has been convicted of a crime, those in jail are there temporarily, either awaiting trial, transfer, or bond payment for release. in this program our cameras take you behind the walls of l.a.
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county jail into a system that is overcrowded, tough on gangs, and struggling with an increase in racial violence. through it all and against all odds there are people there trying to make a difference. let's go inside l.a. county jail in this special two-hour edition of "lockup." >> shadowed by beautiful skyscrapers and the world famous hollywood sign, the main hub of the jail is located in downtown l.a. on bauchet street. adjacent to the twin towers jail is the inmate reception center, or irc. this is where more than 2,000 inmates are bused in and booked seven days a week. >> everybody that comes in comes through the funnel. >> chief of custody operations, taylor moorehead, has been running the jail for the past two years, supervising eight jails, 5,000 employees, and 20,000 inmates. >> basically, they are arrested by whatever agency in los angeles county.
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generally, all the agencies book into now the consolidated booking system, which is the l.a. county jail system. >> with close to 100 buses, inmates are picked up from the various courts and police stations in the county of los angeles. their first stop inside l.a. county jail is the inmate reception center. >> on a busy day on monday through tuesday we're talking about anywhere from 600 to 800 inmates that are being booked each of those days. on wednesday, thursday, fridays, the number is somewhat less. but we average about 400 a day if you take out the whole seven-day work period. >> it's 7:00 p.m. on a monday night, and the irc's garage is filling up like new york city's port authority. for two hours buses fortified like prison cells drop off hundreds of inmates to be booked into the county jail. >> well, first thing what we do is back here behind us we have the search-out rooms. inmates are brought in from different courts and from
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different station holding tanks, and they're sat there and we process them, line them up, remove all their contraband that they have. we also remove any knives or guns, whatever they might come in with from the streets. sometimes they put drugs inside their shoes, extra handcuff keys inside their shoes as well. >> following the search identification wrist bands with booking numbers and bar codes are scanned into the jail's central computer. the inmates are then given bologna sandwiches and some juice. from there they're told to follow a series of lines painted on the floor. >> okay. blue line's going to take them to cell b, which is for male. and they're going to wait -- they're going to wait in that cell to be booked. the yellow line's going to take them into cell one, which is going to be in classification. if they've already been booked, then they can go on and be classified. inmates are classified in three levels -- low, medium, and high, depending on their past crimes. >> my second time.
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for the same thing. i didn't finish my domestic violence classes, and that's why i got sentenced for 180 days, for not completing them. >> 21-year-old convicted wife batterer miguel castillo is no stranger to the system. >> the worst thing in processing, that you don't get your bed until sometimes eight hours, ten hours. today they told me i wasn't going to get a bed until 24 hours. >> it's a long drive from santa monica to l.a. we have to stop off in beverly hills. >> 28-year-old multiple drug offender daniel johns has only been in jail for a few hours, but he's already missing his freedom. >> i wished i was outside. you know, i seen a lot of people at the liquor store, people at the beach, you know, when i was leaving santa monica. there's just places that i wanted to be. >> before inmates can be housed,
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they need to be classified. >> do you have any tattoos? >> have you ever served in the military? >> no. >> are you homeless? >> no. >> are you taking any prescription medication that you would need within the next six hours? >> no. >> are you thinking about killing yourself? >> no. >> once an inmate has been classified, if he hasn't been fingerprinted or photoed for his booking photo, they'll wait inside the cell behind you. they're called out one by one. we'll bring them out to the machines, the life scan machines behind us. we'll fingerprint them digitally. the fingerprints are actually sent down to cal i.d., which is in norwalk. and they'll match that person's fingerprints up with past crimes that he's done. >> the green line, gentlemen. >> once the new inmates have been fully processed, they are stripped down, showered, and given their l.a. county blues. before any inmate can leave the irc, they need to be x-rayed for tuberculosis, checked medically by a doctor, and screened by a psychiatrist.
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>> you want to hurt yourself? what plans do you have to hurt yourself? >> i don't know. whatever plans i can come up with. >> if i put a rope in front of you, are you going to hang yourself? >> that's very possible. >> that's very possible? >> very possible. >> are there voices talking to you? >> yes, there are. >> you hear voices telling you to hurt yourself? >> yes. >> with only a few minutes with each inmate psychiatrists at the irc have the hard task of diagnosing complex mental disorders before deciding where they are to be housed. it's 1:00 in the morning in the irc, and for one inmate the long wait has taken its toll. >> everybody else sit down. >> apparently, he was told to do something, and he did not comply. at that point he became physically uncooperative and we had to take him to the floor when he started to fight us. >> in cases where inmates are determined to be a danger to themselves, psychiatrists or mental health doctors may order the deputies to place the inmate in four-point restraints. >> the mental health staff has ordered you to be placed in
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four-point restraints. you understand that? >> for both deputies' and inmates' protection all four-points are videotaped. on a busy eight-hour p.m. shift, staff can be asked to administer as many as six four-points a day. >> smile for the camera. >> the majority of them are pretty much -- about half of them are cooperative. some come in here really angry, really upset. some just not in touch with reality. >> you bitch. you punk little bitch! >> give him a sedative. >> sometimes you get people that come up here and spit on the deputies. they wear spit masks. or sometimes they try to bite the deputies. so we ask the deputies to be very, very careful. obviously, you don't want to hurt the inmate. you try to put them in positions that are not where they won't hurt themselves or where my deputies will not get hurt. so there's a variety of things that can happen. it just depends on the inmate himself, how he behaves from here on out. next, "lockup" takes you
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inside men's central jail, l.a. county's most notorious maximum security facility.
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that appears on your screen.
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after 15 hours in l.a. county's inmate reception center, these prisoners are sent to men's central jail. built in 1963, this maximum security facility can house up to 7,500 inmates. larger than most state prisons, the 900,000-square-foot facility is the first stop for 90% of the inmates. >> what you've got here is an entire population of the downtrodden. you've got the losers in society, you've got gang members. >> here we have everything from duis that are in here for a day or two to 187s, mexican mafia affiliates that are here for cases that end up going upstate
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pretty soon. we've had robert downey jr., all the big celebrities. >> straight out of the academy, sheriff's deputies are assigned to a jail before getting a street patrol. they can spend on average three to four years working the jails. with the help of custody assistants deputies are there to keep the peace and to get the inmates to court on time. general population for men's central jail is located on the second floor. the low to medium-security inmates are put in day rooms that can hold up to 30 people. the maximum security inmates share a 10 x 10 cell with up to six other men. >> you're going nowhere. we do everything in our cell. clothing exchange once a week. we shower every other day. you know, but we never come out of the cell. we get fed three times a day, you know. same gig every day, you know. it doesn't change.
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>> it's pretty rough, you know. you miss your family a lot, your loved ones. you've just got to blank it out most of the time, you know. take it day by day. that's all you can do. >> twice convicted robber 21-year-old gabriel anthony bernal will be doing 12 years in state prison before he sees freedom again. due to the california three strikes law, if convicted again, he will spend the rest of his life in jail. >> i've got to walk that straight line. you know, i have two strikes now. i'm a two-striker. i've been convicted of my second strike. facing some serious time, you know. i've got to get my head right. so i plan to be a construction worker. you know, it's too late for school mostly. >> for other inmates like 19-year-old matthew crop, who was arrested for robbery, being locked up is part of being a gangster. >> you know, i don't plan on -- nobody plans on coming to jail.
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i don't think they do. i don't. it just happens, you know. living in the gangster's life, you know. >> with only one hour per week outside the cell, inmates find creative ways to occupy their time spent in jail. >> man and woman conceiving a child. a latin male hispanic. teardrop. a tattoo for murder. he's doing life. ♪ mama don't you cry ♪ mama don't you worry ♪ mama just stay strong ♪ even though your son is gone ♪ i was locked in the county jail when i heard the news ♪ ♪ i was mad as hell mama just
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thinking about you ♪ >> 18-year-old teshawn solomon is waiting to be sent to state prison for 12 years on a felony drug conviction. >> i mean, to tell you the truth, it's like the streets. you know what i'm saying? you meet people. live your life. eat. you know what i mean? do about the same as you do on the street. me, i done been here for 10, 11 months. it's nothing to a boss, you know. >> many of the state prison inmates in california come from the l.a. county jail. with an annual budget in the hundreds of millions, overcrowding continues to be a growing concern. >> as you can see, i've got concrete bars. you know, i don't have any place to expand. i can't make another cell. that's the achilles heel of jail systems everywhere, is how many inmates you have. that's your clients. >> the los angeles county jail has a higher inmate to guard ratio than any other county jail in the country. sheriff's deputies have to deal
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with the daily threat of getting stabbed, having feces thrown at them, and even contracting aids. for some deputies the stress is too much to handle. >> we've had guys come in just a day, day or two, and they look around and they're like i'm out of here. they'll give us the keys, and they won't even say they're out of here. next day we'll come in and they'll be gone. i'll go down and check it out. they'll be like, yeah, he resigned or -- because this is where you actually figure out if you really want to do this or not. >> five minutes. get ready. >> with their hands in their pockets and heads pointed to the ground, lines and lines of inmates are ushered through the long corridors of the jail to and from court. when they return to their housing unit, each inmate is searched and taken through a series of metal detectors. >> well, it's an adventure every day. >> deputy shannon sidney works on the fifth floor of the jail, also called 5000. it houses homosexuals. these inmates are segregated for their own protection. >> i call it the drama floor
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because you get a mix of everything. normally, they're separated from everyone else simply because you can't put them in general population because a lot of times they will be -- they will be abused. you can get rape or sodomy incidents. they wear blue tops and yellow pants. and with males they have black shoes because there's a lot of homosexual inmates that they can fool you. they're gender bias -- or gender bending and it's hard to tell. >> it's not pleasant. but it all depend on how you look at things. you know what i mean? i'm just trying to make the best of my situation regardless of where i'm at. >> for the last 25 years 37-year-old inmate bernard swain has been in and out of jail for drugs and prostitution. >> you know, it just goes with everything. you know, you're making fast money, doing the streets, doing drugs and stuff like that. then you come in here, you've just got to -- >> due to the widespread of
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sexually transmitted diseases like hiv and hepatitis, officials at men's central jail are considering supplying inmates with condoms. >> yeah. we don't have no protection in here, no safe sex. you know, there's a lot of people in here with hiv, you know, and stuff like that, and they just pass it on to other people. it's not clean whatsoever. you know, for sexual stuff. yeah. >> sometimes visitors that come to see the inmates flash for the inmates. >> for most inmates getting visits from family and friends is the only link to the outside world. for 18-year-old convicted murderer antonio bobo this is the first family visit he's had since being jailed. >> what do you talk to your cousin about when she comes and visits? >> i ask her what's going on in the streets. you know, how's her life doing, how's the family doing. basic conversation.
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>> the general population gets 15 minutes four days a week. they're on timers. we push the button, we start up, and it clicks when it goes off. but as soon as the phones shut off the voices tend to get a little loud. guys start to wander from row to row, and we've got to keep an eye on that. we don't want them passing things from other inmates. they can go upstairs with any type of contraband, drugs, any shanks or anything of that nature. >> more than half of the inmates in l.a. county jail don't get visitors. next on "lockup" -- one of the most dangerous assignments in l.a. county jail. gang intelligence. then we started using miracle-gro liquafeed every two weeks. now our plants get the food they need while we water. so they're bigger, healthier, and more beautiful. guaranteed. when you feed your plants, everyone grows with miracle-gro.
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today in the l.a. county jail almost half of the 20,000 inmates are street gang members. as seen in this footage, out of the 1,500 assaults that occur in the jail per year, 70% to 80% of those crimes are committed by a rival gang member. >> assault with a deadly weapon. a stabbing. knocking a guy down and just kicking him till he's bleeding. those type of crimes. >> gangs in l.a. county jail are highly organized groups with deadly rules and regulations. the gang leaders, or shot callers, earn their titles by committing murders to gain the respect from both their enemies
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as well as fellow gang members. inmates targeted for a gang hit are called greenlighters. >> these are individual names. i mean, it's real difficult to read. they write very small so that it makes it difficult for us to try to decipher it. but the top part, these are gangs that just are to be assaulted, and they have what they call hard candy, and those are individuals that they want killed. >> to combat the growing problem of gang violence behind bars, a task force called operation safe jail, or osj, was formed. >> we try to identify who the gang members are that are in the system, and then we kind of try to make a guess at what level in the gang they are. if they're somebody who's very active, we'll try to isolate them from general population. >> sergeant roger ross is in charge of the osj unit that monitors all gang activity within the l.a. county jail system. >> los angeles county jail is unique in the fact that every gang in los angeles county ends up coming here.
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it doesn't matter if they're a black gang, an asian gang, a hispanic gang, or a white gang. if they're active in los angeles county and they get arrested, they end up coming to the los angeles county jail system. >> the osj unit must rely on communication to help prevent gang violence. >> solving crime is all about getting the information from somebody. it's not physical evidence. >> we ain't with nobody. it's just mainly a money thing. mainly we just doing our thing. everybody's doing their individual thing. >> you have had a history of feuding with who? blacks or hispanics? throughout the years over there. >> it's been a history of whoever stepped on our toes. >> knowing which gangs are fighting each other helps the osj unit decide who to remove from general population and where to search for weapons. >> we have found them with hacksaw blades, anything that --
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a metal rod. in our ovens you have the grills that you put in the oven to cook on. they'll break off the rods on that. here's a shampoo bottle that was just once a plastic bottle, they've melted down and converted that into a weapon. >> getting caught with a jailhouse weapon is a serious offense. which is why gang members take extreme measures to hide them. >> what we have here is the first one looks like a wire shank. basically, they've recovered that off a vent. these two are both shoe shanks. there's a metal support in different types of shoes, basically all shoes. they take them out and file them to a point also to one end and use them as a -- either a stabbing device or what have you. >> unfortunately for the inmates, the osj unit can't prevent all acts of violence inside the jail. sometimes they get there too late. >> and we've had similar
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situations where we found the inmate after the whole thing was over and he was dead. here's a photo of an individual that wasn't so fortunate as to be saved in time. >> for inmates who do commit murders and assaults, there is the high power floor. high power is a section for high security inmates only. it's a jail within a jail. deputies assigned to this floor are hand-picked due to their expertise in dealing with the worst inmates. >> everybody in this section is classified as a k-10, which is no inmate contact with other inmates. all their movement is done, their waist chain, their exercise is all isolated, very limited contact with other inmates. due to their highly assaultive behavior. >> sheriff deputy dan shannon has supervised high power for the last three years. >> we had several stabbings, and you know, you can't let your
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guard down for a second. because that's when either you will be assaulted or they will assault somebody else. >> high power inmates are housed in single 6 x 9 cells and are monitored by surveillance cameras and deputies 24 hours a day. >> basically, this is what we call the catwalk. it's the security corridor for staff to go down a row and visually either do a security check or count or just get down the row and see what's going on. the walls are all painted black so that they don't see us. this is a one-way mirror. and so they can't see us but we can see them. >> in case of a riot, catwalks can also be locked down to protect deputies from violence. >> are you mentally insane, dude? next -- "lockup" takes you inside tower number one, where the biggest challenge is
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hello, everybody, i'm betty nguyen. here's what's happening. police say the gunman who killed four people in santa monica, california, friday was armed with an assault rifle and 1300 rounds of ammunition. the gunman, killed by police, reportedly would have turned 24 today. and former south african president nelson mandela has been hospitalized once again with a lung infection. the 94-year-old is in serious but stable condition. doctors say they're doing their best to make him better and more comfortable. now, let's go back to "lockup." while drugs, violence, and gangs are a common problem in jails across california, a variety of mental health issues in the inmate population also create a considerable challenge for overworked jail administrators. with large numbers of these
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inmates returning to the community every day, mental health professionals and sheriff's deputies are working together to find better ways to identify and treat their patients before they head home. tower number one is a 185-foot-tall facility that has no bars. the thousands of square feet of security glass and other acoustical materials serve as sound barriers, making it a uniquely quiet facility. its high-tech design allows a module control deputy to see into each of the 96 cells with one glance. this is where all of the male inmates with mental health problems are housed. every morning in tower number one, doctors, nurses and deputies meet to discuss inmates' treatments and behavior. to protect the inmates' identities from msnbc's cameras, the staff refers to their booking numbers. >> inmate 227 i saw yesterday on the seventh floor. he's doing a lot better.
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so i thought we'd give him a try down here. he's still very paranoid. so we may want to kind of approach him a little cautiously. >> any problem people? >> we have five that are on lockdown. we have inmate 015 for creating a disturbance. he has 24 hours lockdown. that's all i have. >> dr. jeffrey marsh is the co-team leader for the mental health program in tower number one. >> we try to get everyone's perspective on what's going on. we also try to get a feel for who's here, who's new, who's left, what we've done during the course of their stay. >> dr. thomas klotz is the chief psychiatrist for the l.a. county jail, which provides mental health services to the 160,000 inmates that come and leave jail every year. >> i did a high-speed pursuit because i was just sick of being harassed by law enforcement, which is the biggest mistake i ever made in my life. >> for inmate timothy matisse,
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who was sentenced to two years for possession of methamphetamine, the department of mental health's programs has helped him discover the problems that led him to jail. >> so the high-speed pursuit was related to the -- >> oh, absolutely. >> -- fears that you had? >> well, yeah. the way they make it look like is they're going to say, okay, well, maybe he's schizophrenic. and knowing that i'm not schizophrenic and it's really happening and it's going on, they can say, well, it's the drug use. >> for other inmates at l.a. county death is the easiest way to escape their cell. >> we put a tremendous amount of effort into developing the screening system because we know that the highest risk, particularly for suicide, of people entering custody is during the first 24 hours that they're incarcerated. >> according to the bureau of justice statistics, suicide ranks second behind natural causes as the leading cause of death behind bars in local jails.
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>> there's a strong urine smell. we do our best to keep that smell away, but that's pretty typical of a jail, especially a mental housing unit. >> senior deputy paxton reinecker supervises the suicide floor, which houses the most severe mentally ill inmates. >> each person when they're new to the seventh floor are given the suicidal gown, and what that does is it's nearly impossible to tear that gown apart to hang themselves, clog the toilets, the stuff that they do on a daily basis, a lot of these guys. >> inmates who are suicidal are put in single cells and are checked on every 15 minutes by a deputy. >> tell me again one more time nice and slow. >> you know, i eat myself because -- >> you eat yourself? >> yes. because two officers lied to me. >> they just lied to you? >> yes, they do. >> what did they lie to you
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about? >> i'm the chief of the fbi. i'm deputy chief of the fbi. edgar hoover signed a bill that made me chief of the fbi. >> this inmate, who due to his mental condition cannot be identified, has not left his cell for seven months. >> a lot of the writing on the door is human feces, and he also has combined a little mustard on it for coloring. so that's what he's writing with on the actual door. a lot of the stuff inside he's able to get a lead tip or whatever. he's been here for a long time. he just continually works on it.
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next, "lockup" takes you inside tower number two, where female felons, prostitutes, and drug abusers are housed. nurses are dealing with a wider range of issues. and there are ever-changing regulations. when you see these challenges, do you want to back away or take charge? with a degree in the field of healthcare or nursing from capella university, you'll have the knowledge to advance your career while making a difference in the lives of patients. let's get started at
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continued to grow at a rapid pace. according to the u.s. department of justice, women account for 17% of all felony convictions in state courts and 11% of all violent offenses committed. tower number two of the l.a. county jail houses all of the women inmates. like tower number one, its modular design with no bars and high visibility makes it easier for deputies to manage the inmates. >> it's a lot easier because you don't have the movement going on that you did like at the old jails. you had a lot of movement. everybody had to go down and eat chow in the chow hall. and now they all eat in their pods. so we don't have the movement. and you also have direct supervision where everybody is
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moved with a deputy or custody assistant officer. >> 16-year veteran nancy medina is the line sergeant for tower two. >> how you doing, ladies? >> she's responsible for all the deputies and custody assistants on the evening shift. >> i start out with check-in. we check in all our employees for the shift, specifically p.m.s. and then i go from floor to floor and check and make sure they're doing their jobs, the count is clear. >> how come you're all in there? are you having a party in there? >> we have a certain number of inmates that are in the facility, and what we do is we have to actually count the heads to make sure that every body is where it's supposed to be. if it's not, then we have to find out where the body is. >> 44? >> more than half of the women inside l.a. county jail are in for drug-related charges. >> i got four years state prison even though and in spite of the
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newly adapted proposition 36, where we're supposed to be able to go to drug programs if we have a drug problem, and i do have one. >> 50-year-old habitual drug offender kimberly jean maybe has a difficult time being treated like an inmate. >> we're threatened for everything. we're threatened. to sit for count. we're threatened to get in our bunks. we're threatened to get things out of our hair that may just make us feel a little bit more feminine. but every year that i come to a county jail i am defeminized more. >> 46-year-old inmate and mother of three children denise branagh committed her first robbery at the age of 40. >> number six is where i live. this is temporary residency, right? okay. come on in. you are entering my little domain. here is where i put my makeup on every day. i wash my face every day. i flush my toilet.
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>> known to the other female inmates as mom, branagh sees this time in jail as a wake-up call. >> i said i have a dream in child development. i work with kids. i just make the wrong choices. maybe it's thinking can i get away if i do it? can i get away with it? but i get caught every time. you know? but this is a wake-up call. this is all. i feel if i have to go through something like this again, we'll hold trial and jury on the street and i'll die before i come back. that's it. >> female inmates who commit jailhouse violations are brought before a review board called sergeant's court. >> we have them come down here to the hold and we have a hearing for them and we decide how many days they're going to get in the hole. >> you're here -- you're charged with fighting and creating a disturbance. do you know anything about that? >> yes, i do. >> somehow she got a bloody lip. you think she bit it? >> yes.
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i think she did it herself, seriously, because she did lie about me having a pick in my hand trying to stab her. >> did you hit her back? >> yes, i hit her back. >> okay. >> defending on the violation, an inmate can receive up to 20 days in the hole. >> i'm going to give you eight days. next time you have any kind of problems, you get ahold of the deputy. >> i have a problem with eight days. >> okay. do you want to appeal it? >> i don't know how she got that injury, but i gave her the same amount of days i'm going to give you, which is eight days down here. so hopefully, that will keep you from fighting again. you won't want to come back here. >> once a female inmate has been sentenced by the sergeant, they are stripped of their phone, visiting, and exercise privileges and placed on lockdown. >> discipline module. module 311. it's considered by the inmates, you know, the hole. >> this button here is for emergencies. >> custody assistant carolina
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salazar works the discipline module that can house up to 47 female inmates. >> they're making noise. what's your medical emergency, gilbreth? okay. i'll send a trustee over to get you some. okay? >> i like it. solitude, you know. gives you time to think. i ain't got to worry about nobody being too close or, you know, bothering me. just me and my own thoughts. >> with only five days left in her 20 days of isolation in the hole for fighting, 37-year-old inmate kinay haines discovered ways of breaking up the monotony. >> you can talk through the vents. right here in the same part right here, right here there's a hole you can commute with your neighbor. i used to communicate with my neighbor. but she left today. >> are you happy for her? >> no. i wanted her to stay.
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because she used to sing to me every night. i'm not going to lie. i wanted her to stay. that's selfish. i'm a selfish one. >> 30% of the women incarcerated in l.a. county jail have a significant risk of mental health problems. according to a study conducted by the jail's department of mental health, it was also found that the majority of these women are drug abusers. >> so the bottom line, i think, is that we're dealing with a very difficult population. >> dr. michael maloney is the head of the women's mental health treatment. >> we're dealing with a group of people who really don't get mental health services that are effective in the community. so many of them drift down to the point that they get arrested. >> with 300 to 450 women receiving mental health treatment in the jail every day, officials must rely on group therapy programs to help the inmates learn how to deal with their problems when they leave jail. >> explain that to me. >> stay off drugs if you're young and you're basically
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trying to be somebody in life. leave those drugs alone because if you're on drugs you can't cope. >> it sounds like all of you guys here are really seeing the impact of how drugs have influenced where you are today. >> drugs are not a coping mechanism. we have no coping skills. >> that's where i'd start over and turn myself in so i could end it all. i'm ready to quit. get away from it all. it gets old. >> inmate dina marie benz says jail provided the opportunity to come clean of the 15 years of drug addiction that threatened her and her three children. >> my 17-year-old, she understands. she gets mad at me, you know. my 5-year-old, he just wants to be with me. but that's why i'm here. i talked to him yesterday and he goes, you know where mommy is? and he says, yeah, in jail. and that's the first time i talked to him in months. but he knows when i get out that
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i'll be there to see him and get him. but i can't do that until i get out. but it was a good thing. excuse me. >> inmate benz will be doing 100 more days in county jail before she can be with her family again. next, "lockup" takes you to l.a. county jail's camp hug-a-thug. when we made our commitment to the gulf, bp had two big goals:
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in the 2000 elections california voters passed proposition 36, endorsing treatment for non-violent drug offenders. according to the bureau of justice statistics, criminal activity usually drops more than half after offenders receive substance abuse treatment. the l.a. county jail's answer to this growing trend in reducing recidivism is the biscailuz
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recovery center. >> here they get a very intense, very emotional, very personal contact. and we stress accountability in everything they do here. >> often referred to as camp hug-a-thug, the recovery center encompasses a drug abuse program and a batterer program for men convicted of a domestic violent crime. >> it's generally set up for someone to a low to a medium security inmate. we look for someone who's feeling that they want to show a commitment to a program, they want to see it through. >> upon entry to the recovery center, inmates are greeted by an elaborate koi fish pond and waterfall, with housing units equipped with clean carpets, air-conditioning, and lots of windows for sunshine. the only physical remnants of jail is the perimeter fence and razor wire. >> to just be a happier person. i have a lot of hope today. i never had hope before. i know as soon as i'm done with this program i'll be one happy person. >> 24-year-old inmate and drug
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addict anthony trujillo has been in the impact drug treatment program for 90 days. >> i was skeptical at first. i mean, i came in with the attitude of, you know, asking everybody, is this really going to work for me? because that's all i wanted to, do is let me know if this is going to work, what do i got to do to work it and i'll be okay. >> you have a talker that means you have to have a -- >> listener. >> listener. so you have to have communication with an open mind. agree? >> agree. >> let me ask you this. what prevents communication and an open mind? three letter word. >> ego. >> oh, my god. ego. everything going okay. so how can we prevent disunity? communication and open-mindedness. >> getting addicted to drugs is like crossing a highway. you know what i mean? it started out two lanes. when you got using drugs.
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but now it's like 20 lanes. and you don't know how to get back across. >> for 44-year-old inmate david hines the impact program is helping him deal with his 20 years of drug addiction. >> i thought i was the baddest man in the world, but everybody has fears, and they let you walk through them, come back around and introduce yourself to them, and then keep on going with your life. the confidence, i'm going to tell you, they work with us like you wouldn't believe. they really do. >> yes. >> what are you going to get by being right? >> to me i would say a feeling of satisfaction. >> and why would you do drugs? >> to feel good. >> feeling satisfaction. >> feeling satisfaction. >> let me ask this. do the ends justify the means? >> no. >> 75% of the inmates enrolled at the recovery center are not
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re-arrested for the same crime, according to a recent survey conducted by county officials. upon an inmate's completion of either the substance abuse or batterer's program they're given a graduation ceremony and a certificate. >> in order to break the cycle of violence is extremely difficult because you have to get honest with yourself. and that process will take you through a lot of valleys, places within you that you've never seen before. and i want to congratulate you gentlemen again on taking that journey. >> former drug addict and wife batterer james beard is the head counselor for the program. >> what we do is basically say you put yourself in that chair, you can't blame anybody. you can't blame the judge. you can't blame your wife, your mother, your father. >> ernest lazelle jewitt.
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>> i'm not a very violent person, but i can be violent when i want to. >> like other inmates in the program, 28-year-old ernest jewett has accepted his four-month sentence in jail and says he's determined to do things differently when he gets out. >> the bad thing about being in jail is that you can't see your family. you can see your family, but you can't hold your family. you can't leave whenever you want to. but that's just a consequence of me doing what i've done. and if that's what it takes for me to get this in my head, like i said, i have a thick head. so if that's what it takes to get it through my head, so be it. >> anthony rogers. >> 36-year-old inmate anthony ross says graduating from the program has given him a new lease on life.
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>> i was going to keep on doing the same thing i was doing, you know, drinking, the whole nine yards. since i've been here i feel better. you know? i'm at peace. you know, this is anthony. i made a promise to myself to complete the program, and i got it. i got it. i got it. i'm happy. i know my wife is going to be -- she's just going to be overwhelmed. >> in the state of california alone drug treatment programs like the one at l.a. county jail are projected to save $100 million to $150 million annually. next on this special two-hour edition of "lockup," we'll take you inside l.a. county's most dangerous supermax facility, where the jail's largest riot happened. we'll also show you how sheriffs stopped the violence with their new high-tech weapons. and we'll see how inmates process out, having survived life inside l.a. county jail.
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due to mature and graphic subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. there are 2 million people behind bars in america. for the next hour we open the gates. "lockup." new york tops the list, but los angeles is one of the safest major cities in america.
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still, the los angeles county jail system is enormous. it's run by more than 13,000 employees and is the largest sheriff's department in the world. it houses more than 20,000 inmates in eight different facilities, all waiting for trials, transfers, or release. let's go inside l.a. county jail's supermax facility that holds the city's most violent inmates. we'll show you how the jail detectives solve crimes committed behind bars and how violent inmates are learning to rehabilitate themselves. but first we travel 40 miles north of downtown los angeles as we continue our look behind the walls of l.a. county jail. nestled in the high desert mountains and a 40-mile bus ride north of downtown los angeles is the peter j. pitchess detention center. named after a former sheriff, the pitchess detention center is comprised of four jails set on 2,500 acres. south facility is an outdoor dormitory jail for low-to-medium security inmates.
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north facility is a modern-looking maximum security jail. east facility, or old max, is the oldest jail in los angeles. and lastly, the crown jewel of the l.a. county jail system is the north county correctional facility, or nccf, which houses murderers, rapists, and drug offenders. >> we find that the linear style jail really doesn't work for us anymore, and what we have here is we have more of a podular design with the staff stations in the middle and then the inmates around the outside. >> a single facility comprised of five jails housing 3,800 inmates, nccf was designed in 1983. nccf first made headlines in march of 1990, when the first president bush helped dedicate the jail's opening. >> one of this nation's founding fathers said, "if men were angels, no government would be necessary."
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well, i'm sure that no one here would suggest that men were angels. and that's why there's government, to write the laws we live by. and correctional facilities, like this one, for the people who break them. >> for ten years this facility had no major incidents. then, on april 24th, 2000, violence erupted. >> everybody get out! >> it was 1:00 in the afternoon when a racially based riot broke out between 50 to 60 black and hispanic inmates. the surveillance video from this incident is still being withheld by prison officials for legal reasons. but the fighting within nccf lasted for approximately 30 to 40 minutes in one of the largest riots that l.a. county jail has
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ever seen. the fighting finally ended when the sheriff's emergency response teams were brought in. using verbal commands, stingball grenades, and pepper spray, sheriff deputies were able to prevent the inmates from killing each other, except for one inmate whose injuries left him in a coma, most of the men involved in the riots suffered minor injuries. >> jail is completely different than what it was 30 years ago. for one thing, we have much more violence-prone inmates in our system. in the past that was never a problem. we did not have the major riots and the disturbances. >> 30-year veteran of the sheriff's department and commander of nccf john vanderhoerk blames the growing trend of violence in jail on the state prison gangs. >> we have inmates who are trying to establish their reputation, knowing that they are going to the state prison system. so they want to establish their reputation in the jail system as
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a major player. >> because riots inside jail are a fact of life, deputies at l.a. county jail are equipped with state-of-the-art less than lethal weapons to assist them in stopping the violence. >> when i first came on the job 25 years ago, the only special weapon we had was a flashlight. that was it. if there was a riot and the deputy had to go in with literally physically contact to put it down, and over the years we've been very much movers and shakers in terms of trying new weaponry, less lethal weapons. >> lieutenant mike pippen trains deputies every day in the use of less than lethal weaponry. >> this is a, we call it, a stingball. a number 15 stinger. this is a sensory overload device in which we will deploy, in a grenade fashion, pull the pin and throw the grenade. and in two seconds this will ignite and explode.
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the shock wave will literally stun the individuals in the immediate area. in addition to that, it also deploys a number of small rubber balls that will sting you. >> manufactured in england, the arwin gun shoots rubber projectile bullets and has been used by the sheriff's department for over ten years. >> and i've used it quite a bit when i was a sergeant and working patrol, where we would have suspects, as an example, armed with a knife where sometimes we were, you know, in the old days we were faced with nothing -- no other options but deadly force. utilizing the arwin, it's a very effective round. it will take you right down to your knees. it's like an 80-mile-per-hour hardball being delivered to your chest or your diaphragm or your legs. >> just recently added to the sheriff's arsenal of less than lethal weapons is the stun gun or taser. >> these have just been issued to us as of a couple of weeks
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ago, and which they are a new taser gun. it delivers a very powerful jolt of electricity. >> the effect of the taser momentarily paralyzes potentially violent inmates long enough for deputies to control them, as seen in this surveillance video. as part of the training to use the new gun, all supervising officers had to be stunned with the taser. >> a five-second burst. and i've got to tell you, this is -- i was a bald skinhead at one time. now i'm growing hair from all the electricity that came through. >> the sheriff's department relies heavily on their highly trained emergency response teams, or ert, to stop the violence quickly. >> we have inmate disturbances here on a routine basis. so it's not uncommon for an
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emergency response team to be deployed once or twice a week. >> with new deputies coming from the academy and others heading out to patrol the streets, training for the emergency response team is constant. >> we train several days a week probably on a routine basis, all different shifts, all three shifts, around the clock. >> i won't make any announcement to that fact, that hey, we're going to have a drill tonight. i believe that you train the way you deploy and that -- i have an old saying, that when you fail to train, you train to fail. >> as demonstrated in this drill, when a riot breaks out inside a dormitory or out on the exercise yard the entire jail is put on lockdown status. >> lockdown. lockdown. lockdown. >> 40 seconds. >> go. moving out. >> once the jail is completely locked down, emergency response team deputies quickly suit up for battle.
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>> 40 seconds. >> usually, our response time for an ert deployment would be -- which consists of deputies responding to a location, getting all their gear on and responding to the disturbance location would be about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes probably. >> even for the experienced ert team members like deputy david godfrey, walking into a riot like this one that happened in the early '90s could be a frightening experience. >> even in the smallest scenario we're outnumbered probably four to one. we come out in the yard in a disturbance like this, there can be 200, 300 inmates in the yard. and you're trying to put down a riot with 10 to 12 deputies. that's probably the scariest aspect of it, just the sheer numbers. >> okay. good job, guys. excellent. had a lockdown in about a minute and 30 seconds. that's a record. >> after each training exercise deputies are critiqued and evaluated on their performance during the drill. >> do it like we train you,
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bring it up and snap, bring it up and snap it. when you get out there and things get real tight and people are throwing things at you, you know, that's the last thing you think about. you think about snapping it, don't. because if it breaks on you, all you've got is a big club. and that's not going to do you guys or your team or anybody else any good. next, "lockup" takes you inside 900 max, nccf's 24-hour lockdown jail. all inmates coming from [ female announcer ] made just a little sweeter... because all these whole grains aren't healthy unless you actually eat them ♪ multigrain cheerios. also available in delicious peanut butter. healthy never tasted so sweet.
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you see in my day, when my mom was repainting the house, you couldn't just set up a tv in the basement. i mean, come on! nope. we could only watch tv in the rooms that had a tv outlet. yeah if we wanted to watch tv someplace else, we'd have to go to my aunt sally's. have you ever sat on a plastic covered couch? [ kids cheering ] you're missing a good game over here. those kids wouldn't have lasted one day in our shoes. [ male announcer ] add a wireless receiver. call to get u-verse tv for just $19 a month with qualifying bundles. rethink possible. all inmates coming from downtown los angeles to north county correctional facility enter through the inmate processing area, or ipa. >> typically we get anywhere from three to four fish lines per day. each fish line consists of approximately anywhere from 45 to 55 inmates. these are newly assigned inmates, first time here at nccf. >> in the inmate processing area
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the prisoners are searched again for any drugs and weapons. >> basically, what they're doing is -- >> one, two, three. >> we have them squat and cough. and if they did secrete anything in their rectal area by coughing, it helps bring it down to dislodge it. >> once the inmates are searched, they are given new clothes and assigned to a building depending on their security level. if they're high security or also known as k-10 status, they are housed in 900 max. >> everything. drugs, murder. just everything. you name it, they're in here for it. >> all inmates in 900 max are housed in separate cells and can be locked down for up to 24 hours a day. when the inmates are moved, they're put in handcuffs and are escorted by at least two deputies. deputy sal romero says dealing with the dangerous elite in 900 max is all about respect. >> you respect them, they'll respect you back.
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you've kind of got to earn their respect. you can't just go in there and try to, you know, push your will upon them. because they're men, they're grown up, and there are some big boys here. so you've just got to respect them. they give you -- you know, they'll give you respect if you show them respect, pretty much. >> inmate gabriel perez is housed in 900 max for his own protection. >> being in max is like hell to anybody who's not used it. >> he's a member of the notorious mata villa gang, said to be at war with the mexican mafia gang. >> you serve the first time you learn your lesson good. and if you don't learn your lesson you just get used to it. and after the tears go away it just doesn't matter no more. it's just part of life for you. >> 28-year-old inmate joseph williams was just sentenced to 20 years for a double manslaughter.
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>> just take it one day at a time. you know. i'm fortunate because some people in my situation they get life, life without -- you know, the death penalty. i'm fortunate to have a date to look forward to. it's going to be really hard for me because i have a 3-year-old daughter, and from my calculations she would graduate high school and i won't be there to see her graduate high school. >> i'm fighting five counts of attempted murder of los angeles police s.w.a.t. >> 44-year-old inmate vangelis dominick garofalo first came to jail at the age of 17. after doing ten years of hard time at pelican bay state prison for manslaughter, he returned to l.a. county jail. while awaiting trial for the very crime he claims to condemn, garofalo offers his unique perspective on the new breed of street criminal. >> jails are too full. but look at the new generation. carjacking. these kids will go out, stick a gun in someone's face to go
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joyriding in a car and turn a misdemeanor crime into a death penalty case because seven out of ten times they carjack, they kill the person they steal the car from. now, you've got to tell me, there is not something wrong with that? and somewhere in that confusion these kids don't know how to act like proper gangsters anymore. when my dad was a small-time mafioso back east, he used to say there's two kinds of gangsters -- there are thugs, and there are gangsters. thugs come and go. gangsters are about making money and respect. and if you're going to be a gangster in this life, there's two things you've got to know -- you don't kill cops and you don't kill innocent women and children. >> 900 max is also the home to nccf's discipline module, otherwise known as the hole. inmates land here for a variety of reasons.
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>> anywhere from fighting to cussing at a deputy or other personnel, not getting along in the dorm. they may have problems in the dorm with somebody. they can be wrote up for being what they call a shot collar. hoarding medication. possession of a shank, which is a jail-made weapon. >> some inmates can spend up to 60 days in complete isolation. >> every 30 minutes we have to come down the rows and we have to look inside each window to make sure everybody's okay. because there is such a high rate of suicide in this area we want to make sure that there's no fights, there's nobody doing anything that they shouldn't be doing. >> inmate richard hernandez is looking forward to getting out of the hole after not seeing the sun for 19 days. >> yeah, it will hurt my eyes for a little while. i'll see it. you know, it will focus in. probably play some handball in the yard. >> the inmates who are defending themselves in court are also located in 900 max.
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>> i'm here in los angeles county, this particular facility, because i'm in pro per and i'm fighting my case and i'm being held to answer for a 422 pc, which is alleged terrorist threat. terrorist threat is that, you know, a statement made that is verbal. and from what i understand, it must be received from the victim as a threat. >> with the odds against them, pro per inmates thomas gleason and ronnie senegal still feel that they can represent themselves better than a public defender. >> so it's just simply being out there on the streets. the odds are against me. when police officers come through like slave catchers, you know, and literally give you cases that you have not committed and they know you haven't committed. but to gain the conviction and the actions from some of the courts are atrocious. >> well, the representation that i had, i felt he was incompetent.
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you know, i'm facing 42 years to life, and i just took it into my own hands. i felt i could represent me better because i was at the incident. you know what i mean? can't nobody represent me from just paper drawn up. and the representation that the people gave me was nothing. he just was coming in there doing his thing, and i felt like no, i didn't feel comfortable with him. >> these inmates could spend up to two years in 900 max waiting to present their defense in a court of law. next -- "lockup" takes you inside the jail investigations unit, where crime fighting happens behind the walls of l.a. county jail. [ male announcer ] away...
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located in a small bungalow at the detention center of l.a. county is the jail investigations unit. deputies assigned to this group try to solve the thousands of crimes that happen within the walls of the jail each year. >> we read police reports, and we scrutinize the reports to make certain that all the elements of the crime are there and to see if it's -- if there's sufficient evidence to prosecute someone for a violent crime. >> assaults like this one on surveillance video break out daily in the jail. sometimes these cases even escalate to murder. it's the detectives' job to investigate the crimes and find witnesses to build a case for prosecution.
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>> being tenacious and getting as much incriminating evidence as you can against a suspect, being able to remain cool when you have a very belligerent suspect or witness, and being able to put together a good case that's going to stick. >> although rare but very dangerous for the inmate, convincing witnesses to step forward is the quickest way the jail investigators can solve a crime like this inmate slashing case. >> actually, the victim was sleeping on his bunk, and he was suddenly attacked by another inmate. and other inmates stepped forward and testified, were willing to testify against the suspect. as a matter of fact, they testified in a preliminary hearing against that inmate, which is very, very rare. >> another method the detectives use in gathering criminal information is by talking to inmate informants, also known as snitches. >> you don't put yourself in a situation where the person that you're -- that you're telling on
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can know that it's you. >> for his own protection this inmate informant cannot be identified. labeled in jail as a canine, or a snitch, this inmate has been an informant both in jail and on the streets for 20 years. he recalls the arrest that started his career as a snitch. >> i had robbed somebody, and it was in hollywood. i was only like 18 years old. and i hid from the police under a car, and i thought they were gone, and they wasn't. so the arresting officer told me, hey, look, we can work this out. you know what i'm saying? you seem like you're a cool guy and you were just caught in a bad position. so he asked me to make some buys for him and forget about this and i did. and ever since then i've had the label. >> even though he's safely segregated from the general population, this snitch will always give up information when he feels his life is in jeopardy. >> he could be not just trying to stick me but stick everybody
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in the dorm and we'd lose all our program. >> deputies regularly search inmates' living quarters for drugs and weapons, using information from informants. >> everybody stop where you're at. don't move. somebody turn off the tvs, please. listen up. we're going to be doing a search. everybody's going to go in the day room just as you are. hurry up in the shower. don't put any shoes on. just how you are. let's go. line it up. >> before the dormitory can be searched all the inmates are removed from the area and stripped down. >> all right, listen up, everybody. strip down, put all your property behind you. >> what i feel is if they're checking your stuff, it shouldn't -- say, for example, a certain inmate in some problem or riot or something like that. >> 36-year-old inmate kendrick dwayne wyatt, who's in county jail for burglary, feels the dorm search is unwarranted. >> sometimes that brings tension when there is no tension there. that brings tension to the inmates.
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and i'm hoping there's no tension that will be involved as to this matter. >> for almost two hours deputies armed with latex gloves search the inmates' bunks and belongings for razor blades, drugs, and other contraband. >> i have noticed recently the welds on the bottom of the legs, those bust off sometimes when they lift them up and do things with them. so they'll stick things in there, drugs and cigarettes, lighters, things like that. >> they take the razors out of the razors we give to them and they wrap one end to protect themselves. they'll take them out of here. >> they'll take apple juice and other juices, stockpile them. there's one here, so that's not a big deal. but if they get a bunch of them, they'll use them to try to turn them into kind of a jail-made alcoholic beverage called pruno.
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>> they're not allowed to have articles like this. >> they'll use books. one time when i first got here they used the back of a bible to slip a hacksaw blade in. and then they used those hacksaw blades to effect an escape out of one of the buildings. >> this was folded up in what would appear to be a book marker, so that we would go, oh, well, that's a book marker, leave it. if we weren't looking for things, we wouldn't find it. >> like a game of chess, inmates try to outwit the deputies by finding new and different ways to break the rules. >> yeah, they pulled the caps off the lights to expose the wiring. what they do is they basically hotwire it, get a little spark, and light stuff on fire. they can either get -- they basically smuggle tobacco in here or drugs. they can light it off of that.
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>> disciplinary action is given to the inmates that are caught with illegal items. >> what we'll do is like these guys that have razor blades on their bunk, ask somebody, yeah, it was mine. okay. we write an incident form out and we send them to our adjustment center down in the 900 building. >> for 37-year-old inmate terry scranton the dorm search is just part of being a prisoner. >> well, actually, it don't feel too well because nobody likes people going through their personal property. but it's stuff that has to be done. it's their job. you know, they've got to make sure that everything is right. >> after the search inmates return to their cells to clean up the mess. next -- "lockup" takes you inside old max, l.a. county's 50-year-old maximum security facility. and we'll see how two new inmates are dealing with their first week of being behind bars. now, back to "lockup." hours? with thermacare heatwraps. the only wrap with patented heat cells that penetrate deep to relax, soothe, and unlock tight muscles.
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over the last decade many states around the country have spent more money building jails and prisons than colleges. in the l.a. county jail system the average stay for an inmate is 45 days. but some inmates can be locked up for more than two years. finding room for those prisoners is a constant challenge. it requires not only the building of new jails but also keeping the old ones running.
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east facility is the oldest operating jail in los angeles. otherwise known as old max, it was built in 1951 to handle overcrowding. the 15 dormitories inside the jail can house approximately 2,000 inmates. with the nation's jail population becoming more middle-aged, facilities like l.a. county's east jail are trying to accommodate older inmates and keep them away from more violent younger ones. >> well, this is the old man's dorm. which is a privileged dorm. you have to be 45 and older to be in this dorm. and if you mess up in this dorm, you go back to regular population. >> for almost 40 years, 51-year-old inmate will williamson has been committing crimes that land him in jail. >> yeah. it's sickening. it's something, you know, you just have to put up with that. you know, i did it to myself
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again. i said i wasn't coming back. here i am. same people, same everything. just like i've seen people come in and out, there's people that come in and see me come and go. a headache all the way around. >> will williamson's outlook on being in jail is much different now than it was when he was first locked up at age 14. >> i'm more accepting now. before when i did something it wasn't my fault. but i've learned to know and to realize that i did wrong because it's something i wanted to do. and instead of coming in here and blaming the officers for it, i hold myself responsible for what i've done. >> just down the road from east is north facility. north was built in 1987 at a cost of $41 million and is a maximum security jail primarily for younger inmates.
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from the outside the jail looks like a military bunker with not a single window for inmates to see the outside. >> well, i guess my lifestyle in the streets, running with a gang. and this -- none of the stuff like that. you get caught up on the streets, do a couple moves wrong, you end up in this place, you know. >> for 30-year-old inmate and active gang member jeremy blake being in jail is much harder on his family than it is on him. >> my mother is sick right now. she's on insulin. she's got diabetes. things like that. and she's sick, and me being in here, you know, causing more stress doesn't help her any much either. that's why it's hard to come back here. >> three days ago. where are we today? what's today's date? >> already losing track of time in his first week in jail, convicted wife batterer miguel
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castillo has been transported from a small cell in downtown men's central jail to a large dormitory with exercise yard at north facility. this is where he will spend the rest of his 180-day sentence. >> well, i've been here, you know, since wednesday. you come out here for two hours. i think it's about two hours every day except saturday and sunday. so it's -- it's pretty cool, man. you know, you get to see the sun and the warm heat, you know. you don't get to see any green, but -- the only green you see is the deputy's suits. they're a little stricter. you know, they're a lot stricter. but you know, you've got -- it's a lot better over here. >> trying to survive and make the best of his situation, inmate castillo searches for ways to cope with the problems that landed him in jail. >> i've already gave a few requests for parenting classes. that way i can see my son and my wife can come over. i heard it's about two hours every visit. i'm able to play with my son at
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the playground. so i'm looking forward for that. >> we last saw inmate daniel johns seven days ago, when he first entered jail. in that short time he's been housed in three different facilities. now at north facility, inmate johns has come to realize he's tired of coming to jail. >> i've got a record. it's embarrassing. i come to jail, they tell me, oh, you've been here 17 times, you know. yeah. i've spent like the past two years of my life in county jail. i'm just tired of it. >> having just heard that his 30-day sentence has been reduced to 15, inmate johns is nervous about his release, knowing that he has an outstanding warrant for $10,000. >> i've got a warrant. i was supposed to get out on the 4th of july. right? this holiday. and i've just been in my cell, my dorm, thinking about my warrant. i don't know if they're going to
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let me go or not. i'm kind of paranoid. i'm hoping that i can just kind of like squeeze through here, you know, without the probation officer seeing that. if they're going to see that they're going to keep me here for a long time. next on "lockup" -- the l.a. county jail uses star power to reach out to violent inmates. capella university understands rough economic times have led to an increase in clinical depression. drug and alcohol abuse is up.
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and those dealing with grief don't have access to the professional help they need. when you see these issues, do you want to walk away or step up? with a degree in the field of counseling or psychology from capella university, you'll have the knowledge to make a difference in the lives of others. let's get started at [ female announcer ] some people like to pretend a flood could never happen to them. and that their homeowners insurance protects them. [ thunder crashes ] it doesn't. stop pretending. only flood insurance covers floods. ♪ visit to learn your risk. i honestly loved smoking, and i honestly didn't think i would ever quit. [ male announcer ] along with support, chantix (varenicline) is proven to help people quit smoking.
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often when inmates leave l.a. county jail they encounter problems getting a job due to lack of occupational skills. without a job most inmates quickly fall back into a life of crime, which is why the vocational programs available at l.a. county jail are always filled with inmates. >> the inmates that work in the vocational print shop consider this to be more a job and not actually working at jail. >> regardless of their crime, all inmates are offered the chance to work while in jail. >> we don't assign them to work with anyone. we don't assign them what machines they're going to be on. we let them make all their decisions. they made decisions for their life. this is part of their life. and they have to pick up the tools that we offer them.
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and if they can improve themselves -- and it's, again, a decision that they made. >> getting a job outside of jail is only half the battle against recidivism, which is why new programs for inmates are encouraged at l.a. county. elected sheriff lee baca and nfl hall of famer jim brown have started an intensive self-improvement training course for inmates inside the l.a. county jail. the course was originally designed to help reduce the racially motivated violence that was occurring daily within the walls of the jail. >> we needed to take that environment and make it a productive one where people could actually reflect on their problems, get involved in our programs, and leave this jail better than they were when they came in. >> the program is called amer-i-can and it's a 60-hour program that takes 42 days to complete. amer-i-can accepts any inmate regardless of their arrest charge and past criminal
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history. >> it teaches an individual to take control of their own lives. it gives them life skills ab fundamentals that allows them to take control of their own life. you need an investment in education. a real investment in it. you'll need strong, fair, just law enforcement. what i'm saying here is you need a balance. you must put it into the education but you also must deal with the situations. that's a fair way of putting it. >> the rate of racially based disturbances like this one, captured on surveillance video, used to be about one per month. but jail officials claim that the amer-i-can program has drastically reduced the number of incidents throughout the jail.
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>> there's a certain rule that blacks stay with blacks, hispanics stay with hispanics, the whites stay with whites and you can't intermingle. i mean, you can hi and bye but there's a certain tension that you've got to experience. it's like at any given moment you can get into a fight, all-out brawl. >> inmates like jeffrey glade say the program helps break down the racial barriers that lead to violence. >> now i've got some hope, and that's real. i don't want to sound cheesy or nothing, but this program really turned my whole thinking around. and i have to help myself. it ain't all about what they can do for me. >> i mean, they cram it down you. it's 15 chapters and they make sure you know it. they do a real good job. and it's taught by fellow prisoners, that most of them have been locked up or have came from the streets or ex-gang members or what have you. >> having spent 17 years of his life behind bars, 32-year-old inmate michael graham is looking forward to his job as a scaffolding worker. >> i got a real good job from here, got a reply yesterday
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they're willing to hire me. things are looking pretty good. >> upon successful completion of the course inmates are given a graduation ceremony. for this year's graduation they were treated with the appearance of a special guest speaker. >> somebody says what motivates you? i said, injustice. i wake up every day motivated because every day i wake up there's a new thing to deal with in the way injustice goes down. injustice is everywhere. so i've got a job everywhere i go. >> singer, actor, and activist harry belafonte travels to the most violent places in the world. his goal is to speak to people who are the creators of and the resisters to the violence. >> with his inspirational words belafonte gives each inmate a personal challenge. >> your failure is my failure.
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your success is my success. somewhere where you go, you carry a responsibility and the destiny of my children and my children's children and their friends and their community. and they can either look at you as someone as a group to be shunned or they can look at you as an example of how to take the worst cards dealt in life and turn the deck around and make it your game and play a winning hand every time out. [ applause ] >> get the community's focus on something it can have faith in,
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and for that institution to then move to the outside world and says you must look in a very different way at how the prison population is being treated. i think it's a great opportunity. next on "lockup" -- inmates in the l.a. county jail get back their freedom. then we started using miracle-gro liquafeed every two weeks. now our plants get the food they need while we water. so they're bigger, healthier, and more beautiful. guaranteed. when you feed your plants, everyone grows with miracle-gro. it's not a candy bar. 130 calories 7 grams of protein the new fiber one caramel nut protein bar. the new fiber one still doesn't feel real. our time together was... so short. well, since you had progressive's total loss coverage, we were able to replace your totaled bike with a brand-new one. the tank, the exhaust...
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i hope to reacclimate myself in society and become a positive role model for somebody in society or at least be able to stand up like i'm doing right now except without the county blues on and tell them you don't want to go there because they're going to treat you like you're not human. >> back to the neighborhood and kick it. >> try to find a job, take care of my life. >> smoke a cigarette and buy a pepsi. >> i feel that i will be available to come back and try to help others with the same problem that i have because i tried to help my fellow inmates
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in here with some of the problems that they have. >> take a shower and go to denny's. >> if my wife was here, i would like to go out and probably help kids and probably get a good job. >> cut the alcohol, the beers and all that stuff, and i'll be all right. >> i want to change. that's the difference now. got to do something else. just accept the fact that i want to change. i don't know how i'm going to do that, but i just know i'm going to change. >> see my kids, pick up my new little girl. >> this time i'll try the program. i never got out and tried the program. also i'm trying god in my life. which i haven't tried god in my life. >> hopefully, i won't need to seek help. if law enforcement leaves me alone i'll be just fine. >> start over again.
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>> i'll go back out there, try to go back to work. i was working for l.a.x. shipping/receiving. i got a pretty good job. it was a break for me. >> the first thing i'm going to do is make a phone call and go find my husband. >> if i get another felony, i'll get life. three strikes. i just don't want to come back, you know. >> i can't predict my own future, but maybe i might stay out for a while. might come back. before this place had a sign saying "welcome back." >> the l.a. county jail releases 800 inmates a day on weekdays and 250 per day on weekends. >> they're housed at different areas throughout the county. we'll send a pass for them. if they're out of valencia, the buses will bring them in, around the night, around midnight to 3:00. people that get 1201 releases are what we call them, they're
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scheduled to be released on the next business day, which is you know, midnight. >> probably about midnight, 1:00, closer to 1:30. >> you know what date it is? >> yeah. it's the 4th of july, independence day. yep. yep. remember the 4th of july. >> before any inmate can be released from jail they are fingerprinted one more time to verify identification and check to see if they have any outstanding warrants. >> they get their property, and if they have any property here or any money, and then once that's done they can leave. >> for some inmates leaving l.a. county jail and dealing with the outside world is a lot more frightening than being locked up. >> there are people who will be like homeless people who, you know, enjoy having the free meals, the bed, and they don't want to go yet.
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and they'll start screaming. we've had inmates put feces on the doors, you know, scream, throw off all their clothing to make it look like they're not ready to leave. but for the most part it's all an act and they'll still get released. >> because the streets of l.a. offer no support for inmates trying to get back on their feet, the sheriff's department created a community transition unit to help former inmates with the basic necessities. >> well, part of the process is to begin changing a system that was primarily focused on incarcerating people. and although we've for decades had thousands of inmates involved in educational vocational programs, what we were not doing was linking them with community resources. >> lieutenant mike parker supervises the community transition unit, which assists inmates in getting jobs and finding a place to live after jail. >> in the first few minutes when somebody gets out of jail i hear from inmates, social workers, homeless shelter people, you
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name it. the first few minutes when they leave the jail is the most pivotal. >> we are here to try to assist you in some housing, whatever you need, transportation, california i.d., job developer. are there any special needs right now? >> yes. >> like what? >> i need housing, and i need employment. >> okay, then. >> for curtis calloway, the community transition program couldn't have come at a better time. >> because i need help. that's basically it. no matter how i may speak or sound, i need help. that's what it is. you know, because i'm not a bad guy, you know. i'm a good guy. but it's just a simple fact. one time i used drugs at one time. right? and then out of straight stress, and i didn't know which way to turn. >> cut it off? freedom.
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>> i don't want to come back. but you know, how l.a. county is, you never know what might happen at any given moment. if you get caught up in any situation out here to cause you to actually do some more time in here, whether it's a traffic ticket, small misdemeanor or getting confused with someone else out here because sometimes people can walk like you and look like you from a distance and then you get caught up in that same situation. >> what's going on? >> it's midnight on the 4th of july and former inmate daniel johns is hopeful about his future after spending 15 days of his life inside l.a. county jail. >> my property, man. it's wonderful, man. i've got a bunch of responsibilities to go take care of. i'm just never coming back to this place. you know?
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i'll do what i've got to do, get going, get my life back on my feet. take care of my responsibilities, don't break the law. >> with only the clothes on his back and a couple of bus tokens in his pocket, daniel johns walks out of jail once again a free man. in 2006, increased violence, much of it between black and hispanic inmates, resulted in injuries and even death in the los angeles county jail system. sheriff lee baca blames the violence on a lack of staff, saying that his decision to close some facilities in order to deal with a budget shortfall has forced far fewer deputies to watch over a growing inmate
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population. that's our report. thanks for watching. i'm john seigenthaler due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. there are two million people behind bars in america. we open the gates. "lockup." >> don't be weak in prison. that's a downfall. >> i didn't like the way you allowed them to punk you. >> facing 15 to life in prison was the scariest thing i've had to go through. >> when i walked back here, it was horrifying. >> i want to see the outside. i want to see some beauty, try to forget about this place.


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