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tv   Lockup  MSNBC  August 1, 2015 9:00pm-10:01pm PDT

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inmates are still sent to the castle on the cumberland. 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. we open the gates. "lockup." this is a new institution. inmates are trying to establish their own territory. a lot of inmate-on-inmate assaults. >> you're surrounded by 1,000 killers. every one of them is a stranger. >> watch out for this guy on the yard. something's going to happen, it's going to happen soon. >> obviously this has been tampered with. the inmates have restitched it back up.
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>> why won't you take a cellmate? >> i feel threatened to be placed in a cell with another inmate. i feel my life is in danger. >> the inmate has been secured in the family visiting area. he'll have this time with his wife, and he'll return back to a facility. >> you nervous? >> mm-hmm. >> i'm not in here for no rape, no child molesting. >> if i stay over here, before the day is out, i could never go back to the main line. because my reputation be worn. i'm now considered no good. >> california houses the largest inmate population in the country. more than 170,000 prisoners. kern valley state prison opened its gates in june 2005 to help ease overcrowding at other state penitentiaries. it brings california's total number of correctional facilities to 33. 130 miles northeast of los angeles is california's central valley. known for farming and
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agriculture, it is also home to kern valley state prison. the facility cost $379 million to build, and it will eventually hold 5,000 men. >> we want to try to get the inmates to start programming and try to rehabilitate them to be able to get back on the outside and get their footing back into the community. >> there's no rehabilitation in the california department of corrections. and i don't care who tells you that there is, they're lying to you. >> this prison is supposed to be a model throughout the entire state. its specific purpose is to show society, right? that hardened criminals can be rehabilitated. okay, but that's not what it is. everybody's landing here and it's just exactly the opposite. >> behind triple-layered razor-wired fences, inmates occupy four housing units. open less than a year, the prison is still struggling to set policies, hire staff, and implement programs. >> hey, i don't make the food.
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you guys already know that. >> it opened prematurely. you know what i'm saying? we don't have cooks in the kitchen. they don't have enough staff. but it's so overcrowded in all the prisons, that they were like -- it was like a forced move. >> all new rules, all new policies, every new twist. every new c.o. that comes on has a different view of how they want to torture you. torture you, mentally. >> the inmates, many of whom have gang affiliations, have already squared off in tightly knit groups set apart by race. >> you're surrounded by, you know, 1,000 killers, and every one of them's a stranger. so naturally you're going to find people that you have things in common with, and you're going to group up because you have to. >> to be safe it's better to stick to our own. >> corrections officer castellanos has been working at kern valley since it first activated last summer. a big part of his job is keeping track of the inmate factions and
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their internal politics. because the prison is so new, it's like one big turf war. >> what's the nature of your alarm? >> appears to be a battery on an inmate. >> it's very hard. too much political game going on right now with these guys. a lot of drug debts right now. a lot of disrespects. something's going to happen and it's going to happen soon. it's ready to go off. >> today castellanos is concerned about a white inmate named aaron yost. >> watch out for this guy on the yard. he's calling the shots on the block for the whites. we're expecting something today, but we don't know. >> before coming to prison, yost was a drug addict with a burglary and attempted burglary on his record. when he was arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine in 1996, he fell under california's three strikes statute and got 35 years to life. >> that means i might possibly be eligible for parole in the year 2028. but i'm like 43 right now, and
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that's a lifetime away. it's an insane -- it's an insane, incredible amount of time to sit somebody who has no history of violence. i don't have any violence on my record at all. none. >> but since coming to prison, yost has been repeatedly written up by the staff for violent behavior. >> it's predatory. prison is predatory. your necessities and your wants, right, run on a razor's edge, you know? when -- it's just an analogy, but when a pen all of a sudden has the value of a corvette, you'll live and die over it. >> for the past 2 1/2 months yost has been in administrative segregation, or the hole, a disciplinary unit where inmates are locked down 23 hours a day. what landed him here? he viciously beat up a rival cellmate. >> what provoked it? you know what i mean, i don't want to talk about that. because i could be considered a rat. you follow what i'm saying? for giving up information, for
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giving up game. for explaining how it is in here. >> that's a ten-four. we'll keep that area clear until we're complete. >> as in most prisons, the exercise yard can be the most dangerous place in the facility. >> right off the bat you can tell when something is going to go on. it gets quiet. guys are grouping up in different races. you've got blacks, whites, everybody. >> if violence does break out, yard gunner josso is well equipped to respond. >> this is a 40 millimeter. it can use multiple rounds of cn gas. i got some wooden baton rounds, some foam rounds. it's a less lethal weapon. this is a deadly weapon. this is a lethal weapon. this is a mini-14. it's exciting, but then again, it's not as exciting to see some of your teammates out there, some of your partners get attacked and assaulted. it happens a lot. >> we're always looking for something. they have it. and it's just cat and mouse. sometimes they beat us, sometimes we beat them. >> let's go, gentlemen. back up.
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equipment recall. >> the day on the yard passes without incident. but during a routine search, weapons are discovered in a nearby housing unit. >> the inmates were hiding them right where the stairwell goes up inside the housing unit. >> since this place is so new, you know, there's still metal in the concrete that might be able to be pulled out. just these guys will -- they'll take apart a door if they have to. >> these ones in the lower left-hand corner, they call them tomahawks. portion of a razor blade. the inmates have made a shaft. that's another tomahawk. we got pretty much cut all over. >> i seen my friend get assaulted. i got kicked. i've been gassed. you know? stuff thrown at you. that's not pretty. but this is corrections. you know? it's part of life. >> up next -- >> they try to break you mentally and physically. it's hell. it's hell. >> the prison within the prison,
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when inmates at kern valley break prison rules, they are placed in a highly restrictive lockdown unit known as administrative segregation or the hole. >> when you cause problems, you go to ad seg. that's basically the way they do it. >> the food sucks. all kind of -- going on in here is unjust. society got eyes blinded. they don't want to hear nothing, they don't want to see nothing. >> you're isolated, you don't have access to books or education programs. >> there's no -- it's designed to break you mentally and physically. it's hell. to put it bluntly, it's hell. >> 240 men are housed in ad seg. the cells are small, measuring 8
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by 6 feet and there are no windows, only a narrow skylight. >> as you can see in here, this new cell is completely all concrete, which will eliminate the inmates from breaking the mattresses down, taking the wire, creating any kind of contraband. if you're inside and looking through the glass window, you're really only looking at a concrete wall. it's for isolation purposes. it will prevent them from communicating with other inmates and, therefore, it's more of a secured unit. they cannot have tvs, no radios. also when these inmates do leave their cell, at all times they will be cuffed from behind. >> these guys are in for murder, for heinous crimes and what not. so you just can't turn your back on any of them. >> we're in the administrative segregation unit for threatening a public official. we got in an argument with an officer because we felt that he
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disrespected our house. he came in and kicked my radio over and tore a hand-drawn picture of his wife off the wall. >> they're always constantly on the monitors when they go to the yard. they have cameras out there. also, we have what we call always under the gun. and if you can see upstairs, we have a correctional officer who's always has weapons up there. ready at all times in case an emergency arises. >> we do little puzzles, play cards, homemade chessboard. try to stay occupied. if you sit around and think, then you dwell on a million and one regrets. >> three times a week inmates get one hour of exercise in a row of wire cages. >> it's like a dog. being in a dog pound. teeny little dog run cage. it's better than nothing. getting sunlight. like a lizard, it takes a minute to get going. >> not all inmates are in ad seg for violence or contraband.
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some are here because the prison doesn't know where else to place them inside the facility. dennis hamilton is in ad seg for refusing to be housed with a cellmate. he's serving a life sentence for carjacking, kidnapping, and assault with a deadly weapon. >> for one, there's no rule that says i have to take a cellie. and, two, i don't want to live with another man for the rest of my life, you know? to me, the cells are too small. i think the cell in itself breeds an environment for homosexuality. >> hamilton is going before the disciplinary board to plead his case. >> mr. hamilton was placed in ad seg on 2-9-06 by lieutenant stebbins for refusing a cellmate. -- compatible cell mate. inmate stated he was refusing a cellmate. you don't have any enemies. >> nope. >> you seem to be a guy who gets along with people. >> yes. >> why won't you take a cellmate?
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>> like i told you in isu, i feel threatened being placed in a cell with another man. i feel my life is in danger. >> hamilton's stubbornness has landed him three stints in ad seg. he's yet to be housed with anyone. if hamilton keeps refusing, he'll be labeled a program failure, housed in solitary confinement indefinitely. >> you don't want to do it, but you're going to do it, okay? >> can i -- >> we don't force you to live with anybody. >> i know. >> you pick somebody you live with. >> i know. >> okay? >> yes. >> i'm serious. >> yes. >> you don't have to marry them. >> it seems that way. i mean placing an inmate in a cell with me. we're not outside that cell all day. we're inside that cell all day. >> but that should have been a consideration before you went to prison. >> hamilton is given a half hour to pack his belongings. he's being transferred to a new
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cell with a new cellmate. >> you're going to get your yard, you're going to get your phone calls. >> that's right. packages. >> all the restrictions are down. >> for how long? that's what i'm saying. >> it all depends upon you, how you behave. okay? if you program good, everything will be all right. >> hamilton gets all the way to the door of his new cell, but then refuses to go in. >> you refuse? go ahead. close it. >> close it! >> are you sure? you didn't look at who -- >> okay. we're going to turn back. >> what is the problem? >> told the committee i wasn't going to take a cellie. >> why? >> because i don't want to. >> for now you'll probably be going back to the hole. how many times have you been in
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the hole for this? >> i think this is my third time. >> okay. you get with the program. a lot of these dudes are doing life here. they've got jobs, things going on. they've got visiting. you're not going to have any of that in the hole. >> we don't have bed space to not let you have a cellie. so you're going to run your whole program like this? >> my program's been ruined. >> what's that? >> it's been ruined. >> why? >> because i have a life sentence. >> so how does that ruin it? >> chances of me getting out are slim to none. >> two days later hamilton was involved in a fight with officers and written up for staff assault. >> sometimes you anticipate your -- certain moves as far as what inmates are going to do and their capability, and sometimes you just are surprised. i didn't think he was going to take it to this level where he would assault staff. >> while his case is pending, hamilton remains in a single cell. he faces the possibility of being transferred to another facility with long-term solitary
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confinement. >> i have a right to not live in a dangerous environment. sending me to the hole, they're basically trying to break my spirit. to me, it's prison. i can't leave when i want. i can't do what i want. it's still prison. it's not going to change. it's still prison. up next -- an unwelcome inmate shows up in "c" yard and is ready for a fight. >> they put me in the cell, i guarantee you, the first time i walk out this [ bleep ], i'm gonna knock one of you [ bleep ] out. will seal the deal. sure! i offer multi-car, safe driver, and so many other discounts that people think i'm a big deal. and boy, are they right. ladies, i can share hundreds in savings with all of you! just visit today. but right now, it's choosing time. ooh! we have a winner. all: what? [chuckles] he's supposed to pick one of us. this is a joke, right?
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get it at there's a yard at kern valley that is hated by most inmates. not because of its harsh conditions, but because of who lives there. it's called sny. >> this yard is basically for prisoners that meet certain criteria, such as most of your rapists, your molesters, dropout gang members. >> also known as protective custody, this unit segregates
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high-risk inmates from others who might want to kill them because of the nature of their crimes or because they've turned on another inmate. >> these are inmates that have hopefully seen the errors of their ways and want to program and want to change their lifestyle. >> i go home next year. i got a life sentence taken off. >> how? part of a prison process. i'm a dropout from a prison gang. >> he's charged 288-a, which is unlawful act with a minor. sentenced to 230 years. it's a big honor badge for general population to kill somebody, especially a sex offender. i don't know whether someone's going to try to take me out. before the day's over. every time i go to chow. every time any sex offender goes to chow or goes out of their cell and sometimes even in your cell. can i go to sleep with this person in here?
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you're pretty vulnerable when you're sound asleep. >> inmate ray rowe shares a cell with earl hymer, another sex offender. >> i have a 37-year sentence. lewd acts on a minor, 14 years old. >> hymer was previously convicted of shooting a man and attempted rape. this is his third time in prison. >> it's like a death sentence because everybody on the street hates me. because this is like the lowest crime any human could commit, which it is. i don't blame anyone. >> this is your book? okay. i'm going to tape this on your door. that's the book that you have. >> trey washington, a lifer, was supposed to transfer to sny for confidential reasons. he wound up in ad seg, or solitary confinement, when he took drastic action to avoid the transfer. >> i cut my wrist with a razor blade. i went to the crisis bed on suicide watch last week.
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and i just came back last week. they was trying to send me somewhere i didn't want to be. >> we're going to come and pull him out. if he refuses to come out, we'll have to extract him out of his cell. >> trey washington, i'm giving you a direct order to go to "c" yard. >> i'm not in here for no rape, no child molesting. i haven't told on nobody. how do i meet the criteria for sny? >> it's all in your file. >> they try to do that because of all the enemies i got. them enemies is some 20 years ago. >> i don't have the authity to change it. >> all right. i'll tell you what. send me over there. send me over there right now. i'm going to go. >> what are you going to do when you get over there? >> i'm going to go in my cell. can i have my property when i go right now? >> yes. >> all right. that's where i want to go. >> now, last time you went over there, you told somebody you wanted to commit suicide. >> i'm ready. i'm going to follow your directions and i'm going to go over there. >> you're not going to hurt anybody or hurt yourself?
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>> you can't hurt nobody over there. they're already hurt. >> right now, i'll be back in about an hour. yo, man. i'll be back in about an hour, homey. hey, you don't see me -- if you don't see me before the day is out, go ahead, write me off, homey. >> washington has a long criminal record which includes an attack on a police officer. he's in prison for 25 years to life under the three strikes law. >> my name is trey kay from west side pasadena. well known, well respected, got a lot of people that's scared of me. i'm an active gang banger. you know what i'm saying? i'm a blood, you know. i'm an active gang banger. i do not want to be where they're taking me right now. >> there are a lot of gang members on the main line, guys that are doing life sentences and stuff, like mr. washington, until they live by a certain
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standard. and the sny isn't just so much rapists and child molesters. it's weaker guys. >> if i stay over here, before the day is out, i could never go back to a main line because my reputation will be ruined. i'm now considered a no good. >> with his hostile attitude and violent background, washington is exactly the kind of inmate sny residents don't want as a neighbor. >> on the main line i'd be dead in a day. because those guys over there, they just wouldn't care. they would kill me right in front of an officer, because it's a notch on their belt. >> that's as far as i go. i'm not going up in there. i was hoping that it was going to be one of these cells on the day room so i could knock them out and go on back to the hole. but i'm not going up in that cell. that's it. you're lucky neither one of y'all is on this tier when i
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just walked up in here just now. because my intention was to [ muted ] y'all up. that was my intention to [ muted ] one of you [ muted ] up. you coward ass [ muted ] yo bitch ass mother [ muted ]. if they put me in that cell, i guarantee you the first time i walk out this mother [ muted ] i'm going to knock one of you [ muted ] out. [ muted ] >> we're taking you back, buddy. put a lid on it already. >> i ain't got nothing in my file that say trey no coward. trey ain't never been no coward never in his life. i done shot so many mother [ muted ] it's pitiful. i could give you rundowns on everybody i done shot. >> back in his old unit, washington is given some time to cool off. >> hey! in an hour. >> we upgrade his mental health
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status, and he's going to stay here until -- we're going to transfer him up so his mental health issues can be addressed at another prison that's set for that. >> all right, washington. >> i'm back. less than an hour, and i'm back. coming up, a conjugal visit. >> we're going to have fun. we're going to do a lot of exercise, jumping jacks. [ laughter ] >> love behind bars. 't get stuc. and you can enjoy every single bite. eat loud. live loud. super poligrip. seals out more food. ♪ super poligrip holds your dentures tightly in place. so you never have to hold back. laugh loud. live loud. super poligrip. get strong all day hold.
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>> i'm dara brown. in northern california, hundreds have been forced to flee their home due to fire. 8,000 firefighters are trying to control the flames. federal officials are investigating a close call after a pilot reported seeing a drone while approaching jfk airport. the flight landed safely. now it's back to "lockup."
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among the challenges facing officials at kern valley state prison is the growing number of inmates with long-term sentences because typically this population is the most angry and the most violent. the staff knows the importance of keeping these men occupied. there are 1,300 inmates serving life sentences at kern valley. their crimes were often cold-blooded. >> i'm here for aggravated mayhem, attempted murder, kidnapping, and great bodily injury. >> i'm in here for the heat of passion. i caught my wife with somebody and -- killed her. >> for some of these inmates, the prospect of spending decades behind bars affects their ability to function. for others, a prison job can give them a sense of purpose. they work in the kitchen preparing and serving the food.
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they serve as porters, clerks, and barbers. marcus armstrong and jeffrey cattera know it's likely they'll never see the outside of prison again. >> january 13th, 1989, i committed my crime, was arrested the same day. it was a murder/robbery. i got life without the possibility of parole. stupid. stupid. i was a kid. did the wrong thing. you know? i've never denied my crime. i accept responsibility for what i did. although i regret what happened and -- i mean, it happened. i can't take that back. >> i'm in here for first-degree murder. i have 25 to life with an additional 6 years, so 31 altogether. i can't blame nobody but myself. me personally. my mom and dad are married. you know, i'm from the inner city, but a good part of the inner city, mostly middle-class families. >> armstrong is a former gang
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banger who was involved with credit card fraud and drugs. >> she was an ex-girlfriend of mine, but we still lived together at the time. what i was doing started infringing on her life and she started getting scared and she tried to stop me and didn't listen. and it's been a discrepancy now if she was going to the police to talk or not or if she was telling anybody what i was doing or who i was, more than anything, involved with. and it led to her -- i can't even phrase it. it shouldn't have happened. what happened to her shouldn't have happened to her. >> though armstrong wasn't the actual hit man of the murder, he's the only one serving time for the crime. >> sometimes i could see the victim in my case when i'm walking. you know what i'm saying? it's like a demon that never goes away. i have dreams about it. >> in the hope of making a difference, both men serve prison by serving other inmates. >> he said if it was an issue that we'd be able to obtain
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access to a legal library on "a" or "b" yard. >> cattera works on a committee called the men's advisory council, a liaison between the inmates and prison officials. armstrong works as a porter and also as an aide to handicapped inmates. >> i got paid 33 cents an hour, make about $46, $48 a month. i owe restitution for my crimes against society. so it's 44% restitution. so i get like $26 a month. >> cattera and armstrong don't dwell on the families they've left behind. they rarely get visitors. but for some other inmates who are married, kern valley offer s conjugal family visits in a private setting. inmates who meet the prison criteria are entitled to spend one 46-hour visit every three months with their spouse and family in a private, secured facility. >> you can't be a sex offender, you can't have any violent crimes with your family or children.
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you can't be in the security housing unit or administrative segregation. you can't be a reception center inmate. you can't be on noncontact status. you can't be a condemned inmate. you can't be life without parole. >> ron golden is serving a 22-year sentence for armed robbery and prison staff assaults. four years ago while at another prison, he married hope golden, a woman he'd known since he was a teenager. he's been at kern valley for just a few months. >> we were corresponding from '98 to 2001, and we became intimate with each other. she wanted to come see me. she knew me from the streets. it just blossomed into something beautiful. we fell in love with each other. >> good morning. >> do you have your i.d.? >> it's in there. >> this will be ron and hope's first family visit at kern valley and the first time they've seen each other in five months. >> the orange shirt can't go in because it's orange. >> okay. now i know, i won't do that. >> okay. and the rollers can't go in
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either. >> okay. >> i'll give you a bag to put all this stuff in. >> before we were married i was always in a lot of fist fights and riots or whatever. in and out of the hole. i was very quick tempered, i should say. because of that, it's cost me a lot of time in prison, be here a lot longer when i should have gone home in '97. but now since i've been married, 2001, i've been sort of, i can say, disciplinary-free. >> could i bring my face cream in there? i don't think that can catch on fire. i wash my face. it's going to be dry. >> i'll ask her. but anything that contains alcohol it specifies in the rules -- >> everything just about has alcohol in it. >> and are these just regular playing cards? >> yeah. >> they can't go in either. >> okay. that's perfume. >> i know. >> we got married at salinas valley state prison.
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robert had some money on his books. he paid for our rings. it was cold. it was in december. and i like fur and mink and diamonds and stuff. so he described what he wanted me to wear. and i went to the mall, and i seen a pretty dress. he bought my wedding dress. and it was like a real ceremony, as if we was in a church, but even though we were in a corner in the prison, it still felt like we was in a church because the respect was still there, the procedure was still there. >> we're going to have fun. we're going to probably do a lot of exercise, jumping jacks. and stuff. [ laughter ] >> the prison staff has already delivered a box of food, which families must order in advance. >> we have crackers. we have macaroni & cheese. so he'll be able to eat like he's at home.
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>> you nervous? >> mm-hmm. >> i know. we ain't used to this. >> i miss you. >> the inmate's been secured in the family visiting area. he'll be counted just like every other inmate is counted. he'll have time with his wife and then he'll return back to "a" facility. >> by building a stronger marriage now, golden hopes that it will help him succeed on the outside. >> it helps us to stay together, listen to one another's problems and you know, instead of have to talk on the telephone. you open up more to your spouse. basically, to sum it all up, it makes you appreciate the little things in life. >> up next -- >> the suspect is looking around very nervously. >> cracking down on drugs inside kern valley.
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>> that will be secreted in his rectum. in the orange package there was approximately one ounce of marijuana. ♪
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it's a fact of prison life that the walls can keep the inmates in, but they can't always keep the drugs, alcohol and other contraband out. >> are there drugs in prison? what do you think? >> inmates manufacture two kinds of alcoholic beverages in prison white lightning and pruno. both made from fruit and sugar fermented in a plastic bag and strained through a pillow case. >> pruno can get you drunk and get you riled up. whereas you can drink half a cup of white lightning and if the c.o.s want to come and ask you a common question like something like can i see your i.d. card, because you have that white
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lightning in your system, you immediately get violent. you know what i mean? takes six or seven to bring him down. >> sergeant alvarez heads up kern valley's investigative services unit, the task force responsible for fighting crime within the prison. whether it be inmate-on-inmate assaults, staff assaults, sexual assaults, homicides, suicides, the introduction of narcotics or contraband into the institution. >> relying on everything from informants to surveillance cameras, the isu team has had its share of successes. >> okay. what we have here is actual footage from our visiting area here. we have a suspect attempting to introduce narcotics into the institution. as you can see, he's looking around. there's another inmate. the inmate directly in front of him is attempting to block the cameras. unfortunately for him, we had staff, isu staff in the area. as you can see he's halfway off
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the chair. that's what kind of piqued the curiosity of my officers. the way the individual is sitting. the suspect is looking around very nervously. as you can see, his right hand there is on an orange bindle. within a matter of seconds that bindle will be secreted in his rectum. the orange package there was approximately one ounce of marijuana. we watched this as it unfolded. we were able to apprehend him and his visitor. she was booked into kern valley jail, and he was placed in administrative segregation for introduction of narcotics into kern valley state prison. >> on this morning, sergeant alvarez and his team are conducting a routine search of the prison laundry and canteen. >> any dope that's found we'll photograph, we'll bag it, and we'll tag it and we'll move on if it's uncontrolled. if we find it on the inmate, then that's a different story.
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♪ ♪ >> squad units, you ready to proceed? okay, squad units. let's go. >> front door, front door. >> minutes later they surprise a handful of inmates working at the prison canteen. >> hold up right there. hands behind your head. hands behind your head. turn around. >> officers secure the inmates in a holding area so that a drug-sniffing dog can be brought in. ♪ ♪ when the dog doesn't find anything, his handler devises a test. >> tell sarge to put that down here in this ramen noodle. >> a small amount of marijuana is placed in the pantry to make sure the dog is able to sniff it out.
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>> where is it? where? where's it at? where? where? oh, that's a good boy. there it is. >> he's been trained on five different odors of drugs. marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, opiates, and cocaine. so when he gets a smell of drugs, his alert symbol was, you saw him sit down, looks at me, shows it. all he's looking for is a toy. that's all they work for. >> later, the dog shows some interest in a stack of cdc blues at the prison laundry. >> we've completed the search with negative results for narcotics. we've hit both support buildings "a" and "b." what we're going to do now is head over to our echo facility which is our level one facility. we're going to go into "a." when we get to cell 101, just pop the door. >> okay. >> the isu team now moves to the
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cells. >> right there. >> how you guys doing? >> all right. >> we're going to search your house. >> sometimes the inmates make wine out of fruits, oranges, apples, raisins. it looks like this may just be water. >> the pictures. they're only supposed to have them in a certain area in the cell. they're supposed to be like family, personal pictures. >> the officers examine everything, even items that seem harmless. >> even though they may have their bible or koran, whatever religious preference they are, they'll still hide dope in it and hide weapons in it. just, you know, everybody finds god in prison. if you're looking for him, this is where he's at.
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>> in this cell, it appears that somebody has tampered the mattress. >> obviously this has been tampered with. i can tell that the inmates have restitched it back up to try to evade detection, any type of detection. >> sorry. we'll just go ahead and finish it, see what we got. and actually it's not anything they -- it's like they can't have, you know. i don't know why they have it in their mattress. >> sometimes, unfortunately, we come up empty-handed, and it doesn't look like there's anything in here now. >> emotionally, i feel distraught because, you know, i mean, i don't live like that. now i got to go back in there and clean it up. this destruction right here is infringing on my rights. >> the search is over, yielding no contraband. >> the pictures in the mattress, what was the point? we had to tear up the whole
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mattress. and there's no reason -- i mean those are pictures that you're allowed to have. there's no nudity, nothing like that. we had to tear up your whole mattress because we're thinking there's something in there. >> 108. >> i don't care if they search the house as many times as they want to search the house. that's their job. you know what i mean? the point is if they find the water bags, they don't got to rip it open in here because that's really disrespectful. you know what i'm saying? we've got to sleep right here. >> these guys are creative. they have 24 hours a day, seven days a week to figure out what they're going to do and where they're going to hide the stuff. it's like a cat-and-mouse game. it's their job to do what they do, and it's our job to catch them. >> coming up -- >> as far as the program goes. but evidently they don't want to let me. >> tempers flare as a new arrival lashes out at staff. where's the salesperson? at the dealership. nice buick! i guess that test-drive last night went well. actually, i'm still on it.
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you know, we're test-driving this buick for 24 hours, right?. yeah. so what are you doing? test-washing it. okay, well let me know when you're done, i'm gonna take it test-shopping. introducing the buick 24-hours of happiness test-drive. it's on your terms and a better way to take a test drive.
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kern valley state prison is still taking in new prisoners a
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year after opening its doors. each day, as many as 100 inmates arrive at the facility. >> your registration, tv registration. affiliated with anybody? >> no. >> all i'm looking forward to is getting to my cell, making my bed, and getting some chow. >> let me see your back real quick. >> the new arrivals have been up all night and know little about this new prison. >> it's brand new. it's all rumors. everything we're finding out we're finding out from the guys right here, right now. >> what do i anticipate? nothing. i don't anticipate anything. if i don't expect anything, then there's nothing to either worry about or look forward to, either way. >> this is the first place they see when they come in and this is the last place they see when they leave. we process them, run medical on them, they get their tb shots here, make sure they're not contagious.
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we take their photos, make sure they don't have any contraband. >> get all three of your boxes and put them in that cart right here. >> i started gang banging. started changing my life. and hopefully i can go home. >> hopefully i can program, no violence. that's what it comes to. that's what it's got to come to. i anticipate doing my five years and going back to the street. >> 300 inmates came in last week. and one day -- in one day 132. i'll be glad when the prison is full basically. ever since july it's been go, go, go. >> once i clear your file, you're going right where you're supposed to. >> you ain't never seen no [ muted ] like this. >> for new arrival james hill, his reputation precedes him. an incident at his old prison has held up his processing. >> what i'm saying is, they got
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a "lockup" order from a prison i just came from, that say i got into the an altercation and somebody was knocked unconscious. but the guard said i didn't hit him. i tried the program, though, but, evidently they don't want to let me. >> you got 12? >> all you got to do is call the prison. everybody came up from [ muted ]. that still ain't got [ muted ] to do with me here. you gonna make it a issue. put me in the hole. look in my file. i ain't got no [ muted ] write-ups. >> circuit control be advised we have 13 1015s from r&r going to charlie yard. you guys ready? the guys who are pushing the carts, go ahead first. the rest of you guys, single file line. >> an electrified fence borders the walkway to the cell blocks for the new arrivals.
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sergeant mcclaron is in charge of patrolling this outside perimeter. >> with the implementation of the electrified fence, we only man a couple of towers now. it is lethal. at times there will be fence alarms. there will be birds, rodents that get into the fence line and activate it. at that point we make a cursory search to make sure there are no human bodies in the fence line. >> after three hours of waiting, james hill finally gets his cell assignment. meanwhile outside the razor wire, an electrified fence lies what could almost pass for a college dormitory. it's the level one yard at kern valley. >> a lot of the inmates on this yard are very short to the house, which we mean short to the house is that they're anywhere from maybe five days to 60 days to parole.
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>> ben siscel is getting out in 60 days after serving almost ten years for residential burglary. >> and i've came down from the higher levels and worked my way down to this level. so it's a big difference for me. i guess the great opportunity is, you know, you're not behind the wall. this is a little more open. the staff is a lot less intense on their security concerns. the inmates are self-motivated. >> they can go in and out. there's no unlocks. there's no time limit that they can be out on the yard. they can take a shower anytime they want. to the left you'll see the warehouses, the motor pool, the rac which is the recycling center that all these level one inmates work at. so they work all the way around here. they work along the road here. they are basically the backbone of the institution. they have too much to lose. so they're not going to mess it up. >> if you're in prison, you're here to pay for the crime that you committed. but the thing is, to just be aware that it's a stepping stone toward the street.
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>> patience is the key. without patience, you know, you're fighting everything uphill. >> i came here to do time for my crime and go back to my family and society. so i accept it. i don't cry. i don't whine. i don't snivel. i just do my time. >> people are out there cursing, cussing at traffic, stupid smog, this, that, and the other. man, i would love that. everything is life. everything involved with life, being able to build relationships, keep relationships. >> it's exciting. you know, it's about time to go back to a busy world out there that, you know, is still going on. and i'm in here. so we'll just see what opportunity the future holds. >> when kern valley opened, corrections officials said it would be the last prison built in california. but in a state with so many overcrowded prisons, many
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believe it's only a matter of time before another new penitentiary opens its doors. 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. we open the gates. "lockup." >> i pled guilty to sexual assault. >> yeah! >> tried to go through everything in the cell, everything from matches 0 to guns. >> i look more female like more than any of the other ones here.


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