tv Lockup MSNBC November 2, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT
the gulf coast region. the elayn hunt correctional center became home to many inmates from nearby prisons that were evacuated due to damage. that's our report. thanks for watching. i'm john seigenthaler. due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. there are 2 million people behind bars in america. >> got the browns and the whites against the blacks. the first rule of the game is watch your back. it's either kill or be killed. life and the next [ bleep ] will. i will find me some steel and make a strap. cut like a mercenary death trap. 'cause if i got to do time, i rather do it like a real [ bleep ], be down for mine. >> who is going to stab who?
who is going to kill who? who is going to beat who bad? >> guys stomping each other on the head, knocking each other unconscious. >> what we got over here? >> escort! >> you have to join a gang. you have no choice. ♪ ♪ 15 to life, doing 15 to life ♪ ♪ 15 to life doing 15 to life ♪ doing 15 to life. that's it. >> in an isolated part of california's central valley is corcoran state prison, one of the state's largest maximum security institutions, housing many of its most violent criminals. now, corcoran first opened in 1988 and was the site of so-called gladiator fights in the 1990s in which inmates fought to the death in concrete yards while guards allegedly looked on. the guards were charged and acquitted of subjecting prisoners to cruel and unusual punishment, but when we first brought our cameras into corcoran in 2000, the prison was still recovering from that scandal.
in this hour, we will take you back into the highly charged facility to see whether it has overcome its notorious past. >> my life is in danger. fy stay in there, i'll end up getting stabbed. >> corcoran under extreme pressure, it's a powder keg. a powder keg. >> basically pure hell. it's hell up in here. it's hectic. >> it's nothing here. ain't no roses growing up out of here. >> bottom line, it's punishment. there's nothing rehabilitative about this. >> you lose your freedom, man, you lose everything. >> it's not the place to be. it's not cool. >> corcoran state prison covers a 900-acre site and houses more than 5,000 inmates.
over a quarter of the inmates are in for 25 years to life for violent and gang-related crimes and more than 200 inmates face life without parole. murderer charles manson and robert kennedy's assassin, sirhan sirhan, are among the most notorious inmates. in 1996, allegations against staff brought the prison to its knees. officers were accused of arranging gladiator-style fights between rival inmates that often had to be stopped with lethal force. >> officers betting on these fights, who's going to win, who's going to be stabbed, who's going to kill who, who's going to beat who bad. >> all of the indicted officers were subsequently acquitted. george galaza was warden at the time and had to tackle the daunting task of getting corcoran back on its feet.
>> when i got here in 1996, corcoran frankly was under an intensive media barrage. the impact that that had on the staff here, it was tremendous. you cannot maintain a prison like this well if your staff morale is poor. so the first part of it was getting the staff morale up. the next thing that we focused on was the issue of violence. >> you might have to fight. >> in a prison like this one, because of the types of inmates that we have, violence is a real thing. >> you might have to kill, you might have to stab. >> the inmates generate violence among themselves. >> one of the places where inmates have always posed a threat to one another is corcoran's main yard. while it may look like an open community space, to the educated eye it is a complicated network of neighborhoods ruled by several prison gangs.
>> without order, we have anarchy. when we have anarchy, people die here. so we have to have lines where the races are divided. and we do this to protect ourselves. >> on the south side of it you have your southern mexicans and your whites. they play there. on the north side of it, you have your black crips and your others hang out there, play there. in this area right behind me here, your southern mexicans hang out over there. over here in the far east corner, you have your whites hang out over there. >> in her 15 years at corcoran, officer diane murphy has learned just how powerful prison gangs are. >> when you come to the prison, you have to join a gang. you have no choice. if you don't join a gang, well, you better pack up and go into the sergeant's office and tell him you're ready to leave the yard. because there's no options. you have to be in a gang. >> within these fiercely guarded
activities, the most innocent active become life-threatening in a moment. >> if you're running and there's a man walking out in front of you you want to yell out track. because he's liable to proceed behind you and nail you, either with a weapon or a fist. >> somebody want to control this basketball court or that basketball court or this weight bench or that weight bench. the cos have nothing to do with that, that is amongst the inmates, the convicts. sometimes you be able to talk it out and get it settled without violence. sometimes you have to bring violence. >> this is just like on the street, you can be here today and you can be gone tomorrow. . >> with violence always on the verge of exploding, the officers are as much at risk as the inmates. >> the inmate today tends to want to hurt staff. >> you got bad apples in their crew just like you got bad apples in our crew. there are officers back here that are back here simply to make it miserable on us. it is us against them. they threaten us all the time,
saying they are going to hit certain officers and so it's scary. >> each day on this yard, 12 officers oversee 500 inmates. outnumbered and armed only with batons and pepper spray, correctional staff must rely heavily on the accuracy of the gunners in the control tower. >> you're always vulnerable for someone to attack you, so you have to have that backup. we don't know what they're doing. we don't know what they're thinking, so we stick together and just watch them. >> anything happen on the yard, i ain't never did nothing. i got a whole lot of things in my file, conspiracy to do stuff to the police, you know what i'm saying. i ain't never got found guilty, simply because i ain't never done it. my first name willy, aka little fluff, 6 deuce east coast crip. i hit a man one time, he fell down and die. i got life without the possibility of parole. i ain't scared of no man in here, i know a whole lot of
dudes feel the same way. >> when corcoran was built in 1988, it was supposed to house no more than 3,000 inmates, today that number is almost double. some cells that were designed to hold one person now house two men in a 6 by 12 concrete box. the overcrowding at the prison forced officials to convert the gymnasium into densely packed living quarters for over 120 of the lowest-risk inmates. >> people are real irritable and tempers flare. this is not a place that you could house so many people for a very long time. >> even among the lowest-risk inmates, violence is always a possibility that officers must guard against. >> we have a gunner up top and he can pretty much see the whole area. these guys, when they want to go off, they're going to go off, okay? nothing's going to stop it.
>> and trouble did break out as our cameras were rolling. an alarm signals trouble in yard 4b. officers run to back up their outnumbered colleagues while inmates are ordered to get down on the ground. >> get down! get down! >> two inmates attacked a third inmate, basically because they wanted him out of the facility. seems each time he shows up someplace, for whatever reason, they don't want him around, so they -- they fight with him and then we end up having to move him somewhere else. >> if officer response is not fast enough, an episode like this can easily mushroom into a widespread prison riot. should that happen, some corcoran officers are trained in paramilitary maneuvers so they can immediately neutralize any escalating threat. next on "lockup" -- >> when i came here i thought, oh, wow, this is going to be a world of hell. sure enough.
it's been a world of hell. >> our cameras return to the shoe, corcoran's maximum security housing unit. hands for holding. feet, kicking. better things than the joint pain and swelling of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. if you're trying to manage your ra, now may be the time to ask about xeljanz. xeljanz (tofacitinib) is a small pill for adults with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well. xeljanz can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers have happened in patients taking xeljanz. don't start taking xeljanz if you have any kind of infection unless ok with your doctor. tears in the stomach or intestines low blood cell counts and higher liver tests and cholesterol levels have happened. your doctor should perform blood tests including certain liver tests before you start and while you are taking xeljanz. tell your doctor if you have been to a region where certain fungal infections are common
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influential gang members and inmates who have assaulted prison staff or other inmates are sent here from all over the state. >> in here, i feel individually deprived, i feel individual is neglected. i feel individual is depressed, i feel individual is degraded, continuously. >> everything they do is to humiliate you. degenerate you, you know what i'm saying? all you're trying to do is respect them but they are disrespecting you. >> the toughest challenge, i think, being in the shoe is on a day-to-day basis being fair and consistent with each and every inmate. in each cell is a different individual. the 1200-cell shoe unit is california's largest prison within a prison. inmates call it the hole. >> 24 hours a day, living in a cell like that, man, it's going to get to anybody.
i don't care who they are. to deprive someone of social contact, i think it's the worst thing you can do. >> shoe inmates spend up to 23 hours a day alone in a concrete cell. they are allowed one hour a day outside to exercise and five minutes a week to shower. in this confined isolation, an inmate's frustration can quickly turn violent. >> i've seen inmates just lose it, start yelling, screaming, kicking banging on their cells, officer coming up, asking what's going on. the man doesn't respond, doesn't want to cuff up, he's just going off in the cell. they've got no choice, they've got to go in the cell, beat him up, cuff him up. that's what i mean by lose it. >> they assault officers with urine and feces. they take control of a food port. also cover their cell front, which we have to remove the cover in order to make sure that
safety is utmost concern. >> when violence does erupt, officers are left with no option but to extract inmates from their cells by force. shoe facility captain r.j. andrews oversees cell extractions on a weekly basis. >> we do wear protective gear in a cell extraction or use of force, calculated-type use of force. but on some occasions, staff do get injured. i have seen occasions where staff have been injured to point of broken arms. i have seen staff receive feces thrown in their face. i have seen staff where they actually had their headgear broken into pieces because they was hit so hard when they entered the cell. >> after extracting him from a shower cell in the crisis unit, officers are transporting this inmate to the shoe for destroying prison property. >> he beat out a window with a handle. we had to go inside the cell, take him out.
this is a spit mask. it's required by our institution so the inmate does not spit on us. >> this inmate will have to pay for the broken window and will have up to 90 days shoe time added to his sentence. while three months in the shoe may seem like a long time, some prisoners spend years within these walls. >> when i first got here, i thought, oh, wow, this is going to be a world of hell. and sure enough. it's been -- it's been a world of hell. >> chris samuelson, originally convicted of weapons possession, has spent two of his four years at corcoran in the shoe. >> you got to have a strong mind to be back here for a number of years like i have been, you know? but it's broken people back here. but, hey, you know, all i can do is just keep going. >> the stress of working in this environment has mandated that officers never work the hole for more than two months at a time.
>> this is a shoe housing unit exercise yard. it's where the inmates come out to get their prescribed exercise daily. and of course, at times that their favorite exercise is probably fighting. >> these shoe yards were the site of the notorious gladiator fights of the mid 1990s. when we first filmed here in 2000, the unit was still recovering from that scandal. at the time, officers were keeping known gang rivals apart to cut down on inmate assaults, but it wasn't all that effective. >> in the olden days, it was more guys trying to kill each other, but we still have those. >> whenever violence broke out, the control tower went into a well-rehearsed routine, as seen in this demonstration from 2000. >> the inmates start to fight, the first thing do you is you activate the unit alarm, then you would yell at the inmates.
first rounds we fire are wood blocks. hopefully the hurt will make them stop. if we have to escalate to nonlethal options, use what we call scat round which is really irritating. it's also a lot louder. the smoke you see there, that's cn gas. it's no fun. it messes up your sight. we have a mini 14 here, a .223 round, we only use that as a last resort. the inmate has knocked another inmate unconscious and kicking him in the head or something. >> corcoran state prison to longer has to resort to such drastic measures to control violence in the shoe yard. their solution, no more yards. the inmates now exercise in walk-alone areas called the cages. >> the cages is inhumane. this is nothing but animals. people treat animals better than we're treated sometimes. it's like having a little in a
cable right here. put the monkey in the cell, put him out in the cage, let him get some air. >> although yard privileges have been restrictioned, the inmates agree that the cages have been effective in combating the inmate assaults that were so common in the past. >> it seems to me that this is just one more step towards administration's divide and conquer tactics. and it's working. works well. i'll give them that. they know what they're doing. >> next on "lockup" -- >> i want you to take the curtains down, turn around and submit to mechanical restraints. >> do what you gotta do. >> inmates go on the rampage in the prison's hospital ward. when we made our commitment to the gulf, bp had two big goals: help the gulf recover and learn from what happened so we could be a better, safer energy company. i can tell you - safety is at the heart of everything we do.
medical staff deal with the survivors of gang hits, treating up to 50 stabbings a year. >> got his head blown off, that's probably the worst one. but we've had lots of major stabbings, lots of gunshots, lots of people who have been stabbed in through the chest cavity who we stabilize here and ship immediately to trauma center for emergency surgery. you don't ask questions. you basically deal with them as patients. if you start digging into their backgrounds and find out what they've done, it could change your whole perspective. we have a special clientele here that you don't want to know too much about them. >> a high-security prison hospital presents particular problems for employee safety. every day, staff try to achieve the best balance between medical needs and custody concerns. >> there is a doctor here but they're dealing with another
situation. so when they get done, i'll tell them. >> medical and security staff work hand in hand to deal with a major disturbance in the hospital. inmates have purposely backed up their toilets. >> we have four inmates in four different cells that are causing their toilets to back up and flooding the tier. we're going to first go out and try to talk to the inmates and try to get them into complying with staff's instructions. >> we want to come in, talk to you, give you some medications so we know you can settle down. >> inmates fail to comply with staff instructions, we will probably have to extract them. >> i want everything ready to go in no more than five minutes. i want everything ready to go in five minutes. >> don't make them big enough. >> in addition to the risk of being injured during a cell extraction, officers must also protect their faces and uniforms from body waste that is frequently thrown at them by inmates. >> you got elbow pads, you are going to slide in there, it's
wet. one of them might throw feces at you. he smells it he is ready. he's going to be pitching, i don't want to be catching. >> this time, the on-duty psychiatrist has managed to convince the inmate to let captain cobb's officers remove him from the cell. now he can receive his much-needed medication. hospital staff now face the unpleasant task of cleaning the inmate's feces-smeared cell. >> put him in the room. do we have an open room? put him in cell four. >> i can't see you. >> across the hall, the
psychiatrist is attempting to persuade another inmate to cooperate with medical staff. >> we need to come in, give you some medications. >> nope, not taking no medications, you ain't coming in. >> medical staff are now left with no choice than to hand over the situation to the prison security staff. >> i'm captain carl. i'm the custody operations captain. >> the inmate is refusing to remove the mattress which is blocking the cell door and security staff fear he may be planning to use his metal food tray as a weapon. >> i'm going to give you one more opportunity to comply with staff instructions. i want you to take the coverings down, turn around and submit to mechanical restraints. >> do what you got to do. >> medical staff stand back to let custody officers introduce
noxious oc pepper spray into the inmate's cell. the irritant gas should quickly persuade him to let officers handcuff him. >> cuff up. >> despite the stinging cloud of gas filling his cell, the inmate is still refusing to be cuffed. >> come to the door and cuff up. come to the door and cuff up. >> a second dose of oc pepper spray is applied. at last, the staff are able to extract the inmate peacefully. >> come on up to the door. >> he is immediately taken to the shower to wash the burning spray out of his eyes. when "lockup" returns, authorities confiscate charles manson's disturbing artwork.
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ñgññy aoaoaokoaoaaggogó#?a?!aa?!? doing time at corcoran state prison can be like living in a war zone. the main culprits for most of corcoran's crime and violence are the powerful prison gangs that prey on each other and on the weak. their booming drug business not only pervades every facility at corcoran, it extends far beyond
the prison walls into the outside world. lieutenant terry norton knows that being locked up does not stop inmates from conducting business as usual. >> the gangs inside the prison control drug trafficking, extortion, any kind of crime you can think of that happens in the streets, happens within with the prison system. they have their politics, they have their pecking older, their soldier that has to eliminate the guy they want off the yard. they all have their little jobs that they have to do. >> gang members communicate with each other both in and out of prison, by microwriting on scraps of paper. >> even though the individual is locked up, they have a lot of access to individuals on the street. they have visitors that see them on a regular basis. they have the mail. they're able to give messages to other inmates that are paroling to go out on the street and pass that message along to other street gangs or whatnot to carry
out their deeds. >> through these coded notes, senior gang members are able to continue running their street operations from behind bars. once decoded, officers pass the information on to police. more often than not, the orders are to kill. >> anybody that thinks that a prison gang like the mexican mafia can't reach out and touch anybody on the street are a fool for thinking that way because they can. they can reach out and touch anybody they want. >> most often it is about smuggling drugs, most often heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana into corcoran. >> this would be a state boot. take the bottom of the heel here and actually cut and remove the heel and carve out an area in this section here in order to put the narcotics underneath the heel. this is actually -- we opened up the packaging of it. we have marijuana on this side, marijuana in the center. the way it's wrapped there is so the inmate could actually insert it into his body cavity and
traffic it from the visiting room into his housing unit area where it's sold. >> even a simple greeting card can be a vehicle for transporting drugs. >> in this case, the peacock here, the bird, the parrot was soaked in methamphetamines and it's mailed in. once it's mailed in, the inmate will cut up pieces of the picture and actually sell it. >> narcotics inside prison can be sold for almost 30 times their street price. a ounce of heroin that might cost $800 can be broken up and sold here for thousands. >> get to the house, the guy was selling dope out of the house, so there's probably dope in that building. >> to crack down on the gangs' narcotics network, corcoran has formed a highly trained intelligence gathering team called the investigative service unit. our cameras were allowed access to follow this unit, along with
a local k-9 team, while they set out on a surprise contraband bust. searching inmates' cells for drugs, weapons and gang paraphernalia. >> nobody else knows we're coming. the captains don't know. nobody knows we're coming. so this is going to be a complete surprise to staff and everybody. >> head of the isu, sergeant john montgomery knows that inmates will destroy or hide the contraband if they find out about the raid. >> heading for building four, be released for chow, going to go up to the building and we will go inside, make sure all the building is clear before we bring the k-9 units in. >> any inmates who are still in their cells when the isu sweep begins are carefully searched before leaving to make sure they are not removing drugs. >> all the way around. open up. all right. >> when the cell block is clear of all inmates, the search begins. >> by looking inside the cells, by how much content they have in the cell, we can kind of tell who is probably running drugs
because they're running drugs on the yard, they have a lot of what we call canteened store goods, canned goods, tuna, chicken, soups, they have a lot of stuff in their cell. in the drug trade that's how they're paid. so we have a cell that has a lot of that kind of stuff in it we'll mark it, we'll tag them, start following them through phone conversations, mail. and we'll gather some intelligence out of this. if nothing else, we'll get that. >> first one. >> it's a game to the dog. they're trying to find their toy. that's how they're trained. and after a while, we don't find anything, you get tired, you get bored. >> find the toy. let's go. >> that's why we try to hit the hot cells first. 'cause after that, your success rate starts going down. >> good boy. >> these searches often turn up some type of illegal substance. >> like a marijuana penner joint. you have got some of the marijuana here. the balloon's packed with marijuana. the syringe here.
the crack pipes so they can smoke crack. >> a common item found during cell searches is pruno, a fermented alcohol made from shredded apples and kool-aid. >> i would say serve up to five or ten people, all depending. some of the inmates actually even sell the pruno, by the cup. whether selling it for five bucks a cup or ten, or if it's white lightning, 25 to 50. >> any suspicious artwork in the cells is brought to this sergeant in internal affairs, an expert in gang codes and symbols. >> a lot of the aztec stuff is predominantly done by the southern hispanics, mexican mafia. you will see, if you look very close, they will have the gang signs, the mexican mafia normally has a black hand, a small black hand somewhere in the drawing. you have your mainliners that are out here and they want to send a drawing back to -- they call it a brother, validated
mexican mafia member, they will draw something really nice and send it back to him or send to it his family on the street which in turn will make a full circle and come back inside as a form of respect for him, hey, this is for you, they made this for you. we really preach to these guys that their ancestors were aztec warriors and they go as far as to even learn the aztec language. they call it nahodall. >> inmate charles manson's artwork is regularly confiscated to prevent it from being sold as gruesome souvenirs. >> here's a scorpion that he's made. basically just taking thread from various types of items, socks and t-shirts and towels and he creates it and uses, looks like a marker to color it. this is probably one of the items that he makes the most of would be scorpions and spiders. other inmates try to sneak it
out and put it on ebay and sell it and whatnot, so we confiscate it. >> another all-too-common discovery in these searches is a variety of handmade weapons. since corcoran opened in 1988, there have been over 250 stabbings, many of them fatal, using knives like these. >> this one is made from a desenex can. >> i've seen stabbings over drugs, i've seen stabbings over money owed for canteen. i've seen child molesters get stabbed. i've seen a guy get both eyes gouged out with a toothbrush and stabbed 15 times by his celly. >> as far as the gangsters, once they start doing drugs and get in debt, the only way to get out of debt is usually is to do a hit and sooner or later, the right person is going to come along, they want to hit him and if they don't do it, they are going to get hit theirselves. >> that was exactly the choice presented to this young inmate who got a year in the shoe for stabbing another prisoner.
>> the guy was weak, as what people were saying, oh, he was weak. weak meaning he couldn't keep up with the exercise. you know, that was the reason. this is how stupid this is. said, hey, this guy, you know, he doesn't deserve this. when i did speak up for him, you know, it was placed on me. well, since you're speaking up for him, then you will deal with it. i regret it i'm sorry for that guy i stabbed. i really a i regret that i did that to him. >> up next -- >> they will stab him, they will kill him, they will toss him away like he's nothing. >> the perilous risk of leaving a gang. is back. which means it's never been easier to get a new passat awarded j. d. power's most appealing midsize car, two years in a row. and right now you can drive one home for practically just your signature. get zero due at signing, zero down, zero deposit, and zero first month's payment on any new 2014 volkswagen. hurry, this offer ends december 2nd.
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should any of them refuse orders to carry out hits on other inmates, the prison says they are likely to be assaulted or killed as punishment. their only other option is a process called debriefing, during which they agree to cut all ties with their gang and provide prison officials with detailed information. in exchange, these inmates are moved to a special needs housing unit and permanently segregated from the rest of the prison population. >> an individual can be in good favor with the gang for years, can do their dirty work, smuggle drugs, stab people, beat people, do whatever, but if he says the wrong thing to the wrong person someday, or looks funny at somebody, somebody thinks he is disrespected by him, he's through. they'll stab him, they'll kill him, they'll toss him away like he's nothing. >> a lot of them get tired of prison politics.
they're tired of being asked to go out there and asalt other inmates. they just want to kick back, do their time and get out of prison. >> when we first visited corcoran, thomas spiller was a high-ranking gang member who requested a debriefing. he was just four years into a 35 year to life sentence for second degree robbery. >> there's a process that we have to go through. first of all, you have to turn over any weapons and refrain from associating with any of your former gang member friends. list everything that i've done and all my activities. hits i've ordered, hits i've done, who sponsored me into the gang, so on and so forth. >> state your neighbor and number for the committee. you are here for your cdc annual. we have some question about your request to debrief. >> deputy warden marv mesky, social worker janelle johnson and captain nate dill have to decide whether spiller's desire to renounce his gang was genuine.
>> i do have some questions about your sincerity for debriefing. >> i have questions of my own if i may. >> the officials are concerned some of the debriefed inmates whom spiller would join in housing were former hits of his. >> you will not be denied a debrief process it it may take a while because we have to look at it very, very hard. >> for my own understanding, what is the main source of your change of heart? >> basically, i'm tired of doing other people's dirty work. i'm simply just a middleman passing on orders. and it doesn't make sense. i was ordered to kill a dear friend of mine and i really didn't appreciate that. >> the committee decided spiller would be allowed to debrief. he was then moved into protective custody in the special needs unit. >> you have a good day. thank you. >> since then, he's been transferred to another prison in california for his safety. >> once they elect to go ahead and debrief and cross that line, you cannot put that inmate back
on a general population yard, because ultimately he will get assaulted and possibly even killed. >> but the prison can only protect the inmate from his gang's fury. they can't protect the inmate's friends and family. >> that individual decides to debrief, he has to get his family out of the old neighborhood because they will retaliate against his family if they can't get to him. >> the information provided by former gang members, like inmate spiller, is used to identify and track high-ranking gang leaders inside the prison. it has also proved invaluable to law enforcement. >> they've actually solved homicides on the streets that they had no suspects on through the debrief process. >> debriefing is not enough to destroy the vise grip of prison gangs at corcoran. >> it's just one tool from breaking some of these gang members up from the gang. because for every one inmate that debriefs you have ten in line waiting to get into the gang. >> since our last visit here,
officers say they have seen a big shift in the type of inmates who are joining gangs. >> the changes i have seen in gang members coming into csp corcoran have been a lot of the younger kids coming off of the street. coming into a gang they feel is going to take care of them and come in here and find out it's not that way at all. and because he wants to make a name for himself, will be the first one to grab a weapon if told bay somebody that's got seniority on the yard, say, hey, i need to you go hit this guy, they will. >> they are a lot younger, a lot younger out here. they don't care at all. they are the ones who will be first to get in your face and tell you where to go. >> they are told that what they're doing is for the betterment of, you know, their race or their group or whatever it is. when in reality, what it is, it's all about making money for those guys that are running or controlling the gangs. >> there are a few inmates though who manage to avoid the dangers of gang membership by forming their own small factions
and keeping a low profile. surprisingly, one of those groups consists of inmates who are openly gay. >> the boys seem to have no problem. they love us. i mean, we are like gold in here. we really are. very few of us. oh, please, maybe not for you. but anyway. i mean, they treat us just like they treat anybody else, you know, as long as we give them their respect and don't cross those boundaries, we get treated just like anybody else. >> but being gay in prison does have its challenges. >> being what i am is very hard to find a good celly, 'cause you know, some people, they -- because you're homosexual, they expecting you to do certain things and the you're not with all that, know what i mean? >> when they turn down a proposition, the reaction can be vicious. >> it's just like being the proper word is stalked, harassed, because of rejection, you know a lot of people here can't deal with rejection, especially coming from a transsexual.
>> yet, these inmates find doing time at corcoran less difficult than life on the outside. >> it's much tougher in society because it's nothing given to you, it's no program to follow, no nothing, all based on you. so that's a tough challenge. next on "lockup," the toll of serving time and the taste of freedom. hugging. hands for holding. feet, kicking. better things than the joint pain and swelling of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. if you're trying to manage your ra, now may be the time to ask about xeljanz. xeljanz (tofacitinib) is a small pill for adults with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well. xeljanz can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers have happened in patients taking xeljanz. don't start taking xeljanz
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>> i think it's harder on my son than anybody. you know. he's 7 now. he'll be 7 this year. jumped on his ass about keeping his bedroom clean. one day i called home from l.a. county jail, i ask the the babysitter how everybody was and stuff. she says, well, this morning i got up and told your son he could go out and play. i went back a little bit later, you know. he wouldn't go out, he was cleaning his room. he said, if i clean my room, maybe my daddy will come home. >> i think that you would have to learn how to numb yourself in order to be able to endure this. i really don't have very many hopes left. >> the hope of freedom has finally come to pass for donnie and jose. they are gathering their private belongings and processing out of corcoran. >> anybody picking you up? >> no. >> how about you? >> the parolees we receive,
they're so satisfied that they're leaving, they don't want to come back. >> jose has been here 22 months for selling drugs. with no one to pick him up, jose's plan is to travel by train to los angeles where he will reunite with family. donnie yarberry has been in and out of prison much of his adult life. he served a three-year sentence for robbery, was released, and then got arrested a few months later. >> you currently married? >> i'm divorced. >> a waste of time, a waste of freedom, so many better things to be doing in life, going fishing, going to a movie, walking hand in hand with your girlfriend. >> release photographs are taken of every inmate processing out. for donnie yarberry, who has a history of substance abuse, parole includes a halfway house dedicated to helping recovery addicts get on their feet. >> i heard they had a six-month aftercare so i volunteered for
the program so i wouldn't have to parole to the streets and have nothing. i go to a residential program 60 days and have sober living four more months where i don't have to pay more rent. >> inmates released from corcoran are given $200 and a clean set of clothes to start their new lives. >> paroling to the street with gateway is not enough to survive. it doesn't last two days. i had opportunities to recover before and was never adamant in my heart i was never going to use again. i just know in my heart i don't want to come back. >> that inmate there, i believe, based on my experience of almost 20 years, he'll be back. he's violated a few times already for absconding, burglary, chances are he will be back. >> sergeant val rangel has worked at corcoran since 1988. he knows more than 50% of the inmates he releases will return
to the california prison system within a year. >> you got no family support, you're right back on the street. no home, nowhere to go, no job. they come back. >> yarberry is met by a representative from the rehab facility. >> boldares is dropped at the train station. he will pay for his ticket out of the $200 he just got. >> he's not used to being out here. and he's used to us giving him direction. now he's on his own. he has to find his way back. they get used it to again. it takes the while to get the feel again of being free but they get used to it.
he does have somebody there waiting for him. looks like he stands a good chance of making it. the odds are with him right now. >> but for the rest off the inmates at corcoran, freedom is only something to dream about. >> i don't think prison as deterrent to anything. this is nothing but a punishment place. and it only makes us bitter. it makes us bitter to have to sit back here and be treated the way we are. for years and years and years. and then i'm expected to go out there and be appreciative of society and hope that i learned my lesson? just doesn't make any sense. ♪ they got a brother locked up once against ♪ ♪ chained like a slave on the bus to the north pen ♪ ♪ it's going to be a rough ride because i'm about to do time ♪ ♪ for a crime for a homicide ♪ ♪ 15 with a nail ♪ ♪ 15 to life doing 15 to life ♪
>> in the five years between our visits to corcoran, the prison made great strides to overcome its troubled past. new programs have significantly cut down on prison violence, gang activity and drug trafficking. but with new defiant inmates coming into corcoran every day, there are plenty of challenges ahead. thanks for watching. i'm john siegenthaler.