tv Lockup MSNBC November 8, 2013 11:00pm-12:01am PST
due to mature subject matter, viewer direction is advised. there are 2 million people behind bars in america. we open the gates, "lockup." >> we are working with serious, dangerous criminals. >> if you like being told what to do, if you like being told when to eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, if you like taking a chance of getting your ass kicked by inmates or police, if you like that type of thing, then this is the place for you. >> that's my buildings right there. i can look at them but i can't reach them. >> the inmates can be good, but they're inmates, and you never can keep your guard down with them, never.
>> in the heart of new york city is one of the country's most notorious jails, riker's island. its history has been filled with violence, its facilities overcrowded and deadly. we first visited riker's back in 1999, when the commissioner of the new york department of correction was bernard kerik. his get-tough on crime policies have continued today. the new york city department of corrections says the result is a remarkable 90% decrease in violence at riker's, which has led to a substantial reduction in the inmate population. five years later, our cameras went back inside rikers to see how this once infamous jail has re-invented itself. >> i've got friends here. i have acquaintances. you don't come here to make friends. >> i know i should have at least 80 something arrests, close to 100 arrests, and i've been here at least about 30 or 40 times. >> it is not a pleasant living space.
we're not comfortable. we make ourselves feel comfortable to ease the fact that we're in jail. >> the inmates call rikers the rock. the penal colony. iraq island. the guards call it the meanest precinct in america. welcome to rikers island jail. >> it is easy to get cut up, stabbed, murdered, raped. all type of things you have to deal with in here. if everybody's thinking that this is all good, this is something coming and this is something to try, this is not the thing to try. this is a messed up environment. >> all you young bucks out there, you don't want to be here, you don't want to come here. stay out of trouble. >> when our officers go to work every day, they know everyone they run into is going to be a criminal, and they are going to be dealing with the worst criminals, people who -- every criminal who has committed the worst act. >> martin horn is the head of new york city's department of corrections. he's a 30-year veteran who's risen through the ranks. >> we are working with serious, dangerous criminals. rikers island has ten different
facilities. we have 10,000 inmates, a little bit more than that. we transfer 1,500 inmates every day to 20 different courthouses in new york city. >> this morning, we have approximately 147 courts going out throughout the five boroughs. >> i've been here for two days. two days in this pen, but i posted bail. it's taken that long for my bailout, you know what i mean? i'll be out in a minute, you know what i'm saying? >> reporter: he calls himself 7-up. but his real name is jay keene, and he's awaiting trial for driving with a revoked license. >> i'm here for shooting a dude, you know what i'm saying? but, you know, i be on my way out in the world in a minute, you know what i mean? >> 7-up's cellmate goes by the name "easy." the robbery charges against him are about to be dropped, but both of these inmates know the jailhouse routine. >> i've been here several times. i've been here several times. it's not cute to be here. i don't want to be here. it's not a nice place to be at. >> it's what i do. >> but things happen. being at the wrong place at the
wrong time. >> all the time, i been here about 20 times. every time i get, i get bailed out. i don't play that. my money is long. i always get bailed out, you know what i'm saying? >> inmates spend an average of 45 days at rikers. some can be sentenced up to one year. each inmate costs new york city about $47,000 a year to house and feed. many are awaiting the outcome of their cases or transfer to a state prison. >> arthur damian, step up. bring all your property with you. take your hat off. >> the routine is much the same as it was five years earlier when we visited rikers. men habitually in trouble with the law, cycling in and out. we met damian arthur in 1999 on his fifth visit to rikers. >> you get used to it after a while. once they get back in, you know your surroundings. you feel more comfortable after a while. >> what will now happen is that we will go through our strip search procedure.
>> you can't have the boots here. what size you wear? >> 8 1/2. >> guess what, 10 is going to be your lucky number. >> we will take his other property, secure it, his civilian attire, until he's discharged from the facility. in the meantime, he will wear a green uniform throughout his stay in this facility. and that way, we can easily identify him. >> once an inmate is admitted, if he's not considered violent, he shares a dormitory with about 50 other inmates. some do maintenance work around the island. some work in the prison's bakery. >> we provide 88,000 loaves of bread per week. the inmates actually do the baking. we have civilian bakers who actually do the baking. they supervise the inmates, in terms of the inmates learn the mechanics of making the bread is, the process, the ingredients. >> the bread feeds inmates and staff at rikers and the city's other jails, and is also sold to the juvenile detention center.
still other inmates work in the kitchens, preparing 50,000 meals a day. >> we have feedings three times a day. breakfast at 5:00, 10:30 for lunch, 4:30 for dinner. no seconds, no. we feed them enough the first time around. they get four slices of bread. they get their starches, their meat, vegetables. >> inmates can also attend religious services. this is a protestant ceremony. >> faith comes by healing. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> on hearing the word of god. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> this is a privilege and a blessing. >> on fridays, there's a service for muslim inmates in a makeshift mosque. >> the devil is the thing that keeps you and i from being obedient to god. >> we try to encourage them to
empower themselves and empower their lives by making a change, so that when they leave here, that they have acclimated in the right mindset back into society. don't get caught up into trying to build a castle in prison. that's not what prison is about. if you build your house in prison, you ain't going nowhere. up next, we revisit rikers' jail within a jail. the most dangerous cell block, known as cpsu. [ male announcer ] it's 7am and steve is already thinking about tomorrow. which is why he's investing in his heart health by eating kellogg's raisin bran®. not only is kellogg's raisin bran® heart healthy it's a delicious source of potassium. ♪ mom make you eat that? i happen to like raisins. [ male announcer ] invest in your heart health.
scratch your ass, when to close your eyes and go to sleep, if you like taking a chance of getting your ass kicked by inmates or police, if you like that type of thing, then this is the place for you. if you want to waste the rest of your life. because this is not -- most people who come to jail stay in jail, regardless if they go home or not. they come back and come back and come back. they spend the rest of their life in jail. >> joseph regan is serving 90 days for misdemeanor assault, criminal mischief and petty larceny. >> i've been in and out of rikers for about 20 years. maybe a little bit more than that. i was recently released december 12th and i'm back on another skid bit, as they say. 90 days, which is a small bit, a city bit. i maxed out in sing sing last year and i've been all over the state -- attica, sing sing, quentin, all over the state, but i've been on the island, you know, a lot of times. >> i've been here going on over 20 years, in and out.
first started back in 1983, and it's 2004 and i'm still coming back, in and out. i have been here for various charges though. assault charges, grand larceny charges, unauthorized use of a vehicle, stolen property, drug charges numerous times. >> antonio estrella is one of many drug addicts serving time at rikers. >> right now, we're in two main. this is the highest classification inside the facility. what brought me here was in 2003, i got into a fight with a correction officer in 11 main, and since then, my classification is at the highest it could be inside the building. and it will stay like that for five years. and every time i come back into the ntc, i'll wind up back in here. >> how am i living? it's like a zoo in here. they treat us like animals in here. you ain't got no freedom in here. you get told what to do. when to eat. how long you get to eat. you don't get to move out of this one spot unless you're going to the mess hall.
it sucks. >> nine "u" on the count. you have to be very aggressive at times. sometimes it takes force, sometimes it doesn't. it is tough working with all men. a lot of men feel that women are inferior to them, so they don't have to listen to women, and that makes it a little tougher also. i haven't been on the job all that long to have anything really bad happen to me. since i've been on the job, everything has been basically -- they keep everything pretty tight. we have officers who have been here for like 15 and better years, they've seen a lot worse. because 15 years ago, supposedly it was really bad. >> msnbc first went inside one of the most haunting cell blocks at rikers in 1999. it's the cpsu, the central punitive segregation unit. this is where the toughest inmates stay for crimes that
range from the most violent, murder, to the more unruly, violating jail orders, such as talking back to staff. >> close 2-7. >> here, inmates are locked in their cells 23 hours a day. >> if i wasn't spiritual, i think i'd probably kill myself. my goal is for the afterlife. i want to go to paradise. other than that, this is terrible. >> what we found, frustration and long periods of confinement can cause inmates to act up. >> inmate's about ready to charge. he was at the cell door with something in his hand this time. you guys ready? going in. >> officers had to restrain the inmate when he refused their orders to come out of his cell. >> cuff him, gentlemen, cuff him. >> watch your back. >> hold him there. >> 6510. >> today, the cpsu still houses
the worst of the worst, but due to the re-arrest policy and its consequences, violent outbreaks are almost nonexistent. >> in the past when an inmate committed an infraction in the jail, basically he was just written up, he'd go for a little hearing and he'd go to what we call the bin for a few days. but now, they can get re-arrested. they get re-arrested for assaulting another inmate, they get re-arrested for assaulting a corrections officer. and when they're brought, we work with the district attorney's office. and when we tell the judge, and the judge knows that that person committed a crime in a jail, they're twice as hard on them. and the word got out. they don't want to commit crimes in jail no more. >> for the safety of the officers, there have been a lot of changes. like the food slots. before, they were just plain slots and now they added the full slots is what we call it. at one time, they used to splash a lot of officers. but with the new food slots, it has slowed down. it slowed down. >> i have been here seven years. this is the only building i've
been in since i've been in this department. i like it. there's a lot of movement. the staff here is very close. and i would say it is one of the best places personally per se for myself to work here. we're a close family here. i wouldn't want to go anywhere else. coming up -- >> they basically thought they ran this jail system. >> tough policies of a former administration and the crackdown on gangs at rikers.
more than 2,000 inmates at rikers are members of the 57 gangs there. investigators keep a close eye on these inmates from the start of their incarceration. they are tracked through the department's computer program which quickly identifies members when arrested by their tattoos and criminal records. >> a-l-k-q-n, almighty latin king queen nation. this is a popular symbol, the lion or the crown, the
five-point crown. >> this certificate was made by one of the bloods. putting it in words means he's slashed a couple of people. that means he slashed "excellence" across the face, back of the neck, and he was awarded this certificate. each time we catch up, they change it. they got over 900 different codes. they got their own alphabet. just like saying we're going to means monday. making movie in the living room means we're going to take care of them out in the yard and mr. windham, mr. windham means murder. >> they basically thought they ran this jail system. today, they understand they're not in charge, we are. we've taken the identifiers. we've taken their power. so, it's not a safe haven for criminal activity like it used to be. >> when our cameras first visited rikers in 1999, this was former commissioner bernard kerik's main weapon against violence by inmates. it's called a tactical search operation, or tso.
>> good morning, everybody. we're here today to do a tso. this facility's recognized an increase in assaults by both inmate on staff, inmate on inmate. and there's also information out there that there's an increase in weapon production by the population here. >> the mission of the tso is to hunt down contraband hidden inside the cellblocks of rikers jails, contraband such as drugs and weapons. officers have to be prepared for any unexpected action. >> we have a stun shield here, 50,000 volts there for any inmates that are resisting. the officer will push the button there. it's an automatic six seconds, it stays on, hopefully to stop us from using too much force or any force necessary and we will cuff the inmate and take them out of there. >> a tso is conducted like a military operation, with dozens of correctional officers involved. >> taking notes but really transcribing everything that's going on inside.
>> be advised we have five -- >> they are joined by all of the island's special investigative units, canine, emergency services and gang intelligence. >> let's spread out. instruct them to get dressed, come down and get your i.d. cards. let's go. tell them to open up all of the cells on the top tier. >> get up, get up. >> put your hands behind your back. >> this was a tso our cameras captured in 1999. >> close 45. >> open up the bottom tier. >> close 15.
>> you know the procedure. take the do rag off. strip down. stick your arms up. open your mouth. you got slippers? >> no. >> go get your sneakers. now get dressed. >> edward team to command control. >> proceed. >> first completed 15-a. >> this is the completion of the tso. so as you can see now, they're reporting all of the information from the search teams. >> the other supervisor will bring the team to the front of the building in an orderly fashion for transport. 10-4. >> we are now standing down from this operation. central desk, commence notifications. this is the thb and it's now 1035 hours. thb out. >> as a result of kerik's practices, violence inside the jails has steadily decreased.
today, cell searches inside rikers look far less like a military operation. >> all right, gentlemen, everyone face the wall, put your hands up on the wall, gentlemen. >> you search them, you should search all of them. the inmates are very ingenious in the way they try to hide things. they've been known to try to put things inside their belt. inside different crevices inside their sneakers, inside their shoes, inside their socks. a lot of times, they try to put things inside their underwear, so we check everything, but we're not allowed to go in their underwear. but we do check them and check them out thoroughly as best we can. and we look into everything that they have. we check their paperwork, anything that they would have with them in their hands is searched. >> we have been searching a lot more intelligently. we share information. we have confidential informants. we're more proactive. we were very reactive in the past. we're more proactive in corrections. that has been the reason for the success and the historic
violence reduction. when you get caught with a weapon, you become an icr inmate. that stands for intended contraband recipient. we identify you and you get searched extra. so you don't want to be having no weapons on you, or we make you a red i.d. it puts a flag on you. we know that you've been involved with using weapons, that you had a weapon on you, that you were -- intended to carry a weapon, so they don't want to have anything to do with that. >> weapons aren't only found through cell searches. inmates are regularly scanned for contraband. >> this is what we call a line scan machine. it's an x-ray machine, we can put inmates' property in here and see what's inside of everything, if there's any weapons or anything inside of there. we might have this set up in an area. we'll pick inmates coming past, have them take off their shoes, run them through here, x-ray their shoes, see if there's anything in the shoes. sometimes we do find some razors and some things in their shoes. >> when officers need to check for contraband on an inmate, they use this state-of-the-art detector equipment. it's called the body orifice
scanning system or b.o.s.s. chair. >> stand up. >> he's activating the chair. take your watch off. >> you have to take care of corrections 101. you have to make sure that your facilities are safe, that your inmates aren't escaping, that your officers are safe. the test of a good jail is a place where an employee can come to work every day, secure in the knowledge that he or she is going to go home to their family, and where an inmate can rest his head at night, secure in the knowledge that they are not going to have to fight to protect themselves through the night.
rikers is a jail, not a prison. and that means most of the people housed here are still awaiting trial. their average stay here is 48 days. with thousands of men and women moving in and out of the system, it's no wonder rikers eventually ran out of space. they came up with an innovative way to deal with the overflow. >> i'm only here for the proof. i thought this boat was going to hawaii. >> it's still in jail. you're still behind bars. when you look out, you see barbed wire, gates. >> i live right there. that's my buildings right there. and i can't, i can look at them,
but i can't reach them. >> welcome aboard "the love boat." that's what the inmates call this rikers jail. >> the food is wonderful. five-star restaurant. they give us wine, as you can see. pasta. honestly, this is yesterday's leftovers. they feed us this every day. the food is no good. no flavor, no. if you want, you can sit down and join us. you'll know for yourself. >> michael puerta is awaiting trial on a drug charge and parole violations. he is one of the 800 inmates at vernon c. bane center, a barge that's been converted into a floating jail. the barge is 620 feet long, 120 feet wide, and 100 feet high. it was built in louisiana and brought here in 1991. it took on its first passengers in 1992. >> we don't have an engine, although we are self-contained. we provide our own heating, our
own electricity, our own water. we are off the east river, right by the new fulton fish market across the street. this is our presence in the bronx, and it's a very important presence for us. we no longer have a bronx house detention or a queens house of detention. this is a more efficient way to combine all our resources. and we have 400 people working here, and we are able to do a process that enables us to provide help for rikers island. >> the inmates housed on the barge are adult males with classifications ranging from low to high. >> drug-related charges and a firearm charge. you know, i'm already -- i'm already in the process of a sentence plea. >> i've only been here like a month. and i expect to be here, who knows? i really don't know. hopefully i get bailed out. that's what i'm really waiting for. >> basically, i have been arrested about three times, three or four times. i'm really state property, waiting to go upstate.
>> molen jackson, convicted on a drug charge, is waiting for an opening in one of new york upstate's prisons. >> what's going on here, like we say, this is a boat, so it's a little different area from what i'm used to, being in jail. when you are in jail, it is tight. it's a cage. it's something you got to adapt to, you understand what i'm saying? so it's going to come anywhere. if the violence is going to come, it's going to come. you try to avoid the violence. but you know, everybody is trying to -- basically, a lot of people now are trying to go home. >> i don't know. i have been here too many times. first time i was here, i was a teenager, after coming out of a group home. i just spiraled out of control as far as criminality goes. so, i have been back and forth a few times, mostly for drug activity, trying to make money hustling on the street. >> scott randolph is serving a one-year sentence for parole violation. >> you have some officers that are really willing to help you. they really -- they don't care, you know, what crime you did.
they'll treat you here. you've been sentenced. you're doing your time. you stay out of their way, they'll stay out of your way. then there are officers they they make their day on giving you a hard time, like the sentence the judge imposed wasn't severe enough. but a lot of them on the way out the door, "see you next time you come back. thanks for coming back. thanks for putting my kids through college. thanks for, whatever, the job security." whatever, on and on and on. >> tell them to get ready for chow. >> you treat them like you want to be treated. treat them like men. you respect them, and by the same token you have to set your goals, you got to set your rules and you got to follow d.o.c. rules. >> correctional officer cesar molina, a 12-year veteran police officer, has been on the job at rikers for one year. >> the inmates can be good. very good right now. but they're inmates. and you never can keep your guard down with them. never. you always have to keep in mind that at any moment, at any time, they can flip on you. >> it is deputy warden shaw's responsibility to make sure the
department of correction guidelines are enforced. in addition, he is required to follow coast guard regulation. >> you never know you're on a barge unless something big goes by and your coffee cup is going back and forth. but prior to that, it does have unique problems. i mean, i do have a marine engineer on 24 hours a day. i do have to check the ballast every day to make sure we're not listing. there are water problems. the weather. i mean, i do have to worry about that kind of thing. >> the yard on the barge does not provide deck chairs or offer shuffleboard, but it does offer an amazing view of new york, something the high fences and razor wire can't obstruct. but it's also a place of constant concern for the officers. >> i was just doing a security check of the outer perimeter of the fence, just check to make sure everything looks secure, nothing's broken, no chance for anybody to escape. that's always a high risk because you're outside, you're not inside. it's less secure, but it would be pretty hard to escape from this situation.
these are not sentenced inmates. these are detainees. they haven't been proven guilty yet, so they haven't lost that right. they wear a jumpsuit only after they're sentenced, and usually when they go upstate. we do have some sentenced inmates here at this facility though. innocent until proven guilty and they still get to wear their street clothes, whatever they want. we limit the jewelry, basically that's it, for security reasons. but they are allowed to wear their regular clothes. >> i can see where some of my family live from here. >> really? that's pretty nice, huh? >> no. >> why? >> because i'd rather be out there rather than in here. >> 25-year-old christopher santiago is here on a drug charge. he's been to rikers several times, but this is his first stay on the barge. >> rikers island, it is no better. it's a little different than here. here, you don't got no movement. you can't move around without police with you. rikers island is different. rikers island you could run around the hallways, do whatever, basically. >> been here about two and a half months. i'm awaiting extradition to new
jersey. i got paroled in new jersey. basically, that's it. i was on the run for four and a half years from new jersey and finally got caught. >> this is phillip santiago's fourth time at rikers. he was convicted for credit card fraud and has been on board for two and a half months awaiting extradition to new jersey. >> oh, i need to be outside. i ain't been outside the last month and a half. oh! hell, yeah. >> how's it feel? >> it feels the best, it feel good. it feels very good. a beautiful feeling to come outside, especially when you're incarcerated. all the air you get is to go to court and that's it. you get on the bus. besides that, you get to look out the window. and that's it.
>> everybody, place your i.d. cards on your outermost garments. put them up on your chest, please, gentlemen. keep the noise down. we're going to take it inside. we're going to clear the deck and take it downstairs again. one at a time. >> eric prefers to hang out in the dorm, close to his belongings. >> i never really leave my bed because you really can't trust everybody that is here. my letters to my house, my pictures, my girlfriend. i don't have any pictures of my family at the moment but hopefully i will get some. that's about it. every day, i wake up saying i hate this. but, i got to stay here. so until i do my time, i'll be here. and hopefully i'll see this through. >> scott randolph spends his free time writing poetry. >> this one's called "hold this."
hold this, grip these words as if your embrace alone will help me save my life. so that i might live to give my tomorrows as payment for yesterday's debts. reluctant conscience or regret is the price. i relive past failures through endless nights. i pray that daybreak brings forgiveness with your light. i see an illuminated path exposing painful insights. relief is wrapped tight in a bitter pill. i swallow it at will. i want these wounds to heal. the future conceals hopes and happiness i've yet to feel. with this, you present a fresh foundation on which to rebuild. the peace i seek is real. i reach for your compassion, strong as steel. this is my truth that you feel. may you cherish my conscience and hold this. coming up, women behind bars. >> i have nothing now and i want to kill myself! i can't take it. >> and the babies that are not left behind.
you tell us what you want to pay, and we give you a range of coverages to choose from. who is she? that's flobot. she's this new robot we're trying out, mostly for, like, small stuff. wow! look at her go! she's pretty good. she's pretty good. hey, flobot, great job. oops. [ powers down ] uh-oh, flobot is broken. the "name your price" tool, only from progressive. call or click today.
my record is about this thick, and it's all with misdemeanors. i have over 35 misdemeanors. boom, we are going to give you a year's program and that's it. but don't keep giving me these 30 days. >> the rose m. singer center is the only women's jail at rikers. it houses more than 1600 inmates. >> i'm in here, they asked me to do five days community service. i completed four. the fifth day, the man told me i was late, so i had to go home. so they put me in here. i had to do ten days for one day out on the street. and i really think it was unfair to me. i got nine babies at home. >> i find women's prisons always to be somewhat sad places. oftentimes, very often, the women have themselves been victims of domestic violence.
they've been abused. the incidents of mental illness and drug abuse tends to be statistically higher among the women. and so they present very unique problems. >> most of these women come from socioeconomic-deprived backgrounds, sometimes parentless, a lot of times victims of domestic abuse, child abuse. they a concern that a lot of times men don't have in the sense that they have children that they are interested in and that they take care of once they are back out there. >> justice, mecca, natasha, dominique, latanna, harvey, navarn, nakim and elabrina. and i should be home with them, not sitting up here for one day. >> i didn't even do nothing. you know what i did? i pulled the turnstile back and i seen the cops and i ran. >> you wanted to get a free subway ride? >> yeah. >> how many times have you been in rikers? >> about 38, 40 times.
assault, trespassing. my mother and father died when i was like, 13, and i always had these problems, coming back and forth to jail. >> there are a lot of issues associated with the women being in the jail. for example, a lot of them may be going through some psychological trauma. they're separated from their families, their children. just the idea of knowing that your child is in acs custody is enough to make you psychologic -- give you some mental problems here. >> this relationship that you are in currently, this person you are involved with currently, does he use drugs? >> yes. i haven't done drugs for nine years. >> for some of the women here, just talking over their issues can help them get through their time at rikers. therapy sessions, like this one conducted by a group called women care, help inmates transition back into society. >> we cover a variety of topics, including self-esteem and clarifying goals and values. that particular workshop was on developing healthy relationships, and from there,
next week we'll talk about domestic violence. >> that's the primary trigger in the relationship. >> the warden at the women's jail says one-third of the inmates here are diagnosed as clinically depressed. many are receiving treatment for their drug addictions. >> i've been here for making a sale to an undercover cop and i can't take it no more. i hear voices. i hear people. i have nothing now and i want to kill myself. i can't take it. >> this is the medication window. at different times of the day, various women will come down to receive their medication. what you just saw was the dispensing of methadon. we give out different types of medication. it could be mental health medication, psychotropic drugs. usually those types of medications are given out in the housing areas. those inmates don't come out. >> in the last 10 years, 6 women and 35 men have committed suicide. inmates who may be suicidal are placed under 24-hour direct supervision.
>> in the first year that i was here, we had six suicides. which was one after another, quite stunning and quite disconcerting. and when i looked at it, i found there were things we could do to improve our performance in suicide prevention. so we've implemented a variety of procedures in that regard, and they have paid off. the number of suicides has been substantially reduced. >> female inmates who are pregnant when they are arrested are placed in the prenatal cell block at rikers. >> i got aids. >> i got my baby, i got more kids. i want to go to a program from here for nine months and pull my life together. >> georgina and her baby, vanessa, are part of a unique nursery program for inmates who have babies in jail. it's one of the few programs in the country which allow an inmate mother to care for her baby. >> under new york state law, a woman who gives birth while in custody has a legal right to keep the baby with her for up to
a year, as long as they are not neglectful or abusive of the child, in which case we have some authority to go to the child welfare authorities and have the child taken away. and we operate the nursery with capacity for about 15 or 16 babies. happily, it's never that many. i think it's a pretty sad beginning to an existence to return to a nursery in a jail or a prison just after you're born. >> there is an application process. we have a mental health evaluation. there's a review of her charges by department of correction. violent charges are not permitted in this nursery. >> okay. >> having the babies here, what it does for the mothers, it encourages bonding between mother and baby. the women here learn parenting and prenatal skills. and they begin to learn how to love themselves as well as their babies. we have 'round-the-clock care. you have medical staff that's here. you have psychiatrists that come in.
you have social workers that come in. and they get the type of care here that they wouldn't get anywhere else in the community, at all. >> i keep my door open all night because i hear the babies. so i basically get up and help. i'll wake up the other mothers and let them know their baby's up. she usually gets up and stands up in her crib and calls me. ma, ma, ma, ma. right? >> i'm going to fight as best as i can. my greatest fear of being in here? losing my child. that's the only thing. >> it's a mercy to be able to keep them with you for a while, isn't it? >> many times women come here, be they guilty or not, they take back a tremendous lesson. and if they are guilty, many times, this jail serves as a womb to refocus their life. in the womb, there is new life.
take this time to re-assess and go back out and keep the positive attitude. and i tell the women, i said, you know, you can use this time here and allow this jail either to be a womb or a tomb. >> we are very proud of the job that we do and the rose m. singer center is a very, very exciting and unique place. the staff there are very, very dedicated. without sounding sexist and without being politically incorrect, women are different and they have different needs. their bonding needs, their emotional needs are different, and our staff is very good at addressing those different needs. >> these girls, they're miserable. they try to make your life miserable, too. they call you names. they think they are big and bad. >> i got a kid. i want to get out of here. i don't get involved with nobody. >> we're friends, we stay together.
one of us got to cry, we try to each other. >> the women are more emotional than men. it's nothing for a woman to say, "this is my sister, this is my mother." they form these pseudofamilies. and these may be women that they just met within the last couple of weeks since the incarceration or met while they were in the holding pen. coming up, the rikers island boot camp. >> i've learned discipline mainly, mainly discipline. and how to follow orders.
♪ we got it going on beyond the cell blocks, there is the oldest and perhaps the most successful of the rehabilitation programs at rikers. ♪ shine your boots and shine up bright ♪ >> this is rikers island boot camp. in 1990, the new york city department of corrections started a high-impact incarceration plan. it's a voluntary, 61-day program
for 200 inmates, at least 19 years old, and convicted of nonviolent crimes. >> we have a prescreening format. we do not accept any escapees, assault on staff, any pedophiles, any rapists, murderers. ♪ here we go >> the high-impact incarceration program is a very disciplined regimen based on a military model. it includes vocational and educational training, substance abuse counseling and community service. >> i have been here approximately 13 weeks for possession of stolen property. >> criminal possession of a controlled substance and third degree heroin. >> why are you by your locker with your jacket in your hand? put the damn jacket in your locker. hurry up! >> they teach you about the five steps of decisionmaking. see the situation clearly, know what you want, evaluate the possibilities, expand alternatives, and then you act. >> you made the mistake. your family is paying for your mistake. so you know what? they are going to pay for your mistake right now.
>> drill instructor monsaurat ponse sees his job as a task master. he's been here for ten years. most of the jail's drill instructors have been through a special three-week boot camp with the u.s. marine corps. >> what little i can provide them here, a little structure, give them an opportunity, just that one thought at that one time before they make that fatal mistake of either getting high, picking up a gun, or violating their parole, or better yet, just doing something wrong. >> why are you looking at me? i'm not your girlfriend. you want me to be your girlfriend, i'll make love to you the hard way. >> they have that one thought, wow, i better think about this, because last time i came to jail and this might be my last trip up. >> i've learned discipline, mainly, mainly discipline, how to follow orders, something that i'm not accustomed to doing. >> like mike morales, inmates who have stayed inside rikers jail cells say they would rather be here. >> it's safer here.
>> it's safer to be in this program than to be in a regular jail? >> ma'am, yes, ma'am. >> detail, post colors, post. >> we get fresh air. you know, every time you step out the door, you know, you can see the stars. you can see the birds and all that's good, you know. and compared to the building where you just have hallways and hallways and cells and gates and, you know, it's a big difference in your attitude. >> i would like to think that we are a department of correction, and not a department of jails. and because we are the department of correction, we play some role in changing that. we're not just passive recipients of what we receive, but that somehow we act upon the world in a way that reduces crime. >> once they leave, we don't want them to come back. we're tired of this. i've seen guys come back around, back around, back around. we just want them to get out there, start their life over, get with their families and move from there. >> correctional officer michael lee has been at rikers 15 years. >> they can ask whatever they want here.
i'm not here to deter them or beat them down or tell them this is the end of your life. we have classes to help them learn mechanics, culinary classes and fresh start. we want to help them once they leave here on to whatever they're going to do once they leave. >> in 2004, the r.i.d.e. program was started to reduce the number of repeat offenders. >> we started a program called r.i.d.e. that stands for rikers island discharge enhancement. under the umbrella of r.i.d.e., we have a lot of components to help them with sobriety, housing and employment. we want to link them up while they're here doing their sentence, so when they get out, they go to meaningful jobs and have a place to stay. >> my sentence is a year. i've been here eight months. it has helped me because when i get out, i have something to fall back on. i want to stop using drugs, i have a drug program to go to, treatment plan. i'm going to continue school and stuff. it helped me a lot.
>> in the five years since we first visited rikers island, it has undergone its own rebirth. it has cut violence among inmates by 90%, increased cell searches for drugs and weapons and made its officers and wardens more accountable for their work. but its commissioner is still looking for ways to make his jails safer and more efficient. >> i would like my legacy to be that in new york city, we set the model for how people are released from jails. i would like people to look back and say, while he was the commissioner, his staff was safe, the inmates were safe and the community was safe. we have zero tolerance for violence in these jails and our goal is to eliminate it. >> although the new york department of corrections says it has worked hard to implement programs to assist its offenders, almost half of the inmates will be re-arrested within a year. that's our report. thanks for watching. i'm john seigenthaler
due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. a young man plummets to his death when he crashes through a 25th floor window of the a tulsa high-rise. shockingly, his wife, two months away from giving birth, is charged with his murder in i know what happened. i was the only other person there and i will always maintain my innocence. >> now, her future lie in the hands of a judge. >> don't [ bleep ] me, dude.