tv America Tonight Al Jazeera April 23, 2015 2:30am-3:01am EDT
yet. >> also behind bars and beyond belief, the gang leader who proclaimed, i am the law. >> one woman who was fixing his home cooked meals every day and one woman who was smuggling a personal purpose. >> that's tip of the iceberg "america tonight"'s adam may, and a look behind bars, why the inmates may be the only ones running things on the inside. thanks for joining us i'm joie chen. they call it charm city but right now baltimore is rhode islandroiled in turmoil. shaken the community's faith in law enforcement. it is a devastating story and no less shocking than another baltimore case that has put
prison guards behind bars. "america tonight"'s adam may reports when law enforcement officers became partners in crime with inmates. >> does this play into the corruption that happens here? >> i think it plays a vital role. >> until now ralph johnson has never talked on national tv about what he witnessed as a supervising corrections officer at the baltimore city jail. >> people from the neighborhood that become correctional officers and inmates that become correctional officers. >> an institution recently overrun with sex corruption. >> what happened? >> it really blows old out of control in 2004 when the state started hiring 18-year-olds. >> i thought that was kind of crazy. how can you have an 18-year-old who does not have any experience on life, and you put him on a
section of seasoned inmates and suspect nothing is going to happen to that child. >> reporter: maryland's short-lived experiment hiring males and females as young as 18, was attempting to approach the issue of low paying jobs but it backfired that the younger cos were inexperienced untrained and vulnerable. >> the veteran inmates you know they was licking their chops. they was saying these innocent 18-year-old, they would eat them alive. they would manipulate them, they would have sex with them, they would have them bring things in. then it became a money making operation. >> the gangs were making money from inside the jail? >> they were making tons of money. it evolved. >> following a multiyear investigation that involved wire wiretaps and surveillance in
2013, 27 corrections officers were indicted, allegations they helped a prison gang run drugs and launder money. more than a dozen members of the black gang were also indicted. the largest prison corruption case in history. >> what were they doing for the bgfgf gang? >> they were smuggling in perkocet pills, crack, marijuana, that way they actually did run a jail because the c.o.s actually empowered them. they continue have done it without the c.o.s. >> rob rosen stein oversaw 40 convictions in the conspiracy. >> a lot of people assume when you put the criminals in jail
you isolate them from the community. that isn't what happened. they have kitchen workers and maintenance people, jails are not islands unto themselves. >> how did whap inside the jail affect life outside the jail? >> if you remove gang members from the community but you put them inside the facility you haven't solved the problems. >> baltimore has one of the highest crime rate in america. that's led to overcrowded jails, allowing problems to take root. >> where are we heading right now? >> going to take you down to the receiving section. >> this detention center was built before abraham lincoln took office. >> oldest working jail we know of. >> pete france is now the deputy
secretary of operations for maryland corrections. a few years ago ago, the retired police officer was hired to run the correction center but soon learned the corruption ran deep. >> ity facility >> the facility didn't feel right. >> at what point were you motivated to call the feds? >> we had a choice, we chose to do something. we had a very dangerous facility here. we had a facility that jepped thejeopardized the life and safety of not just the inmates we're responsible for but more importantly the people we ask to come to work every day. >> the three year case revealed that one n. in particular tayvon white, was responsible.
he proclaimed in writings, this is my jail and i am the law. >> was his reports as lavish as the reports indicate? >> he had it better, he could have sex whenever he wanted with four different women, one woman was fixing him home cooked meals every day. personal perkocet pills, wine, he wasn't allowed to be searched, he had phone calls. he pretty much had everything he wanted. plus while he was incarcerated he bought automobiles, all while he was incarcerated. >> even more shocking from inside jail, white fathered five children
with four corrections officers. had his name tattooed on her wrist and helped him run bgf gang business. stevenson was convicted of racket earring. >> catira stevenson went on her break to pick up gang business. >> the fact that we documented and observed her leaving through our surveillance systems suggested that supervisors weren't doing their job. >> nationally, a headline emerges practically every week about prison corruption. "america tonight" teamed to quantify but we found out it's not documented. this comes even as the u.s. incarceration rate has more than
quad ruchquadrupled since the 1970s. >> what would you think if we tried quantify this? based on what played out in baltimore? >> i think you would find that the general problem of smuggling of contraband into jails and prisons is a nationwide problem. if we are about preventing crime on the streets we need to focus on what happens when the inmates are behind bars. >> since the baltimore corruption scandal, the jail has undergone a massive overhaul. many prison guards have been either retired, fired or quit. the jail has also invested millions in new technology. better cameras to track inmates and officers, plus a system that blocks outgoing cell phone calls. >> what is the impact of
shutting down cell phone system? >> intimidating witnesses orderingordering hits, restock the supply of contraband. they use them in a variety of ways. cell phones are a way to continue the criminal enterprise. >> since the criminal indictments, maryland investigates other claims of corruption in the maryland prison system. >> how do you think prison corruption is affecting our society? >> in urban america i do know that the communities are just extensions of the jail and vice versa. and there's not a lot of deterrence in going to prison because you have cable tv. you have access to sex, drugs, the whole nine yards. so actually, it's exacerbating the problem. >> reporter: for decades inmates released from the baltimore jail have seen this sign as they exit the facility. now, it takes on a whole new
meaning . >> "america tonight's" adam may joins us. adam i know you spent a lot of time reporting from baltimore, lived there yourself. is this level of corruption a surprise to those living in the community? >> reporter: it's not really a crime joie, i covered crime for ten years. you have seen everything happening in that jail previous misconduct but this level of corruption was so different, what you see unfolding in baltimore with the protests and the death of a person in custody speaks to a different issue. when i spoke to a corrections officer he said the regret that he has in his career that sometimes he was too forceful, that sometimes he himself used violence over the inmates, he
did that to get control over the inmates because there is a feeling within the city where there's a fine line between sometimes officers, corrections officers, those on the streets and the criminals. >> such a remarkable story. what happened to the jailers in this case, did they get jailed? >> katira stevenson, the one corrections officer who actually had tayvon white's baby just reported to federal prison two days ago. she'll be serving years. a couple of officers did get time served. >> there is month national oversight on this, this means this could be happening in other cities. >> sure, absolutely there could be cases in other cities that are not reported. if you look through the headlines just today, you could see that there are headlines coming out of a handful of other states, a few days ago in suburban baltimore four more detention officers were also arrested on charges of misconduct as well.
and i spoke to a gentleman from the human rights defense center. this is a prison watchdog group and they said this is the problem. there is just no federal oversight when it comes to this issue of prison corruption. >> "america tonight's" adam may. next, push back, a young leader tries to take his place at a historic spot. we fast forward to hear how the alabama machine tried to keep him down. later, another young voice rising. he's the biggest international celebrity you haven't heard of yet. why stromae may be music's next big thing. and new on "america tonight's" website now a trendy travel trend and how you might be breaking the law in that bargain bed. what's the problem with air b&b?
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>> in our fast forward segment turning the tide? the university of alabama has long grappled with its bitter history of racism. "america tonight's" michael okwu saw a sea change for the crimson tide after an historical election for student government. >> we are in a new era for university of alabama, we are moving forward, we are progressing and our entire campus structure is shifting now. and it is because of that that i was elected. >> reporter: last month, junior elliot spillers, was elected student body president one of two african americans ever, the last one 39 years ago. the machine is a coalition of all white fraternities and
sororities who participate in and some say rig school elections. this reputed secret society dates back at least 100 years in the university, members meet in the basements, often called going downstairs. >> it was a political machine. >> former alabama politician steve flowers was a machine member. >> we went downstairs together we nominated, made political deals together. >> after you were in om politics. >> we would say i have got a guy in my fraternity who wants to be president, we'll swap out, we will let you have that job. we have a guy who wants to be president of the college of education. >> what is the machine racist? flowers says not while he was there and he doesn't think today. >> we didn't have racist things when we were in school there was no animosity towards african
american people in my fraternity because it was oforgone conclusion we were all white 98. we were all white. >> the machine doesn't have the mojo it once did. >> the majority has spoken and we are progressing. you know you can either hop on this tband band wagon or not. >> fast forward to a breakdown for the band wagon. elliot spillers, was named student body president but the university won't let him pick his chief of staff. no chief of staff means no cabinet and that means president spillers, administration cannot move forward on any initiatives. check mate. next. he's the hottest artist happening on the worldwide stage but can stromae make it here? looking forward to next time on
>> bonsoir. >> paul von hader comes alive on stage as stromae. his songs are mega-hits around the world. reaching number 1 in 19 countries. his music has hundreds of millions of views on youtube. ♪ ♪ ♪ and he fills the biggest arenas in europe but here in the u.s. the 30-year-old from belgium is virtually unknown. he is now trying to bring his sound to an american audience. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> why do you think you haven't caught on yet in the u.s. the same way that you've caught on in the rest of the world? >> i think that the english speaking audience is maybe less used to listen to non-english music. i'm convinced that people
understand the meaning, even if it's in french. you understand melancholy, you understand sadness, you understand happiness, you understand, and it's enough. ♪ ♪ >> it's about groove, it's about music before the lyrics and the meaning. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> we caught up with stromae in los angeles and found him to be something of a reluctant star. a sort of self proclaimed noncelebrity. >> people are not here for you personally. >> they're not here for stromae you think? >> no, stromae is a project for me. >> not for paul? >> not for paul, no. i'm trying to avoid the words like star artist genius, those horrible name which are a compliment i can understand. but it's really dangerous. >> how so? >> i'm not the person who decided to make this album a
success. people decided. and i'm just trying to never forget it. it's not a job to be a star. it's not a job to be a novelist or, your job is to compose, you know, to write songs, to sing. okay that's a job. but to be a star is just ridiculous, it's not a job. >> what bothers stromae is the distance between performer and audience during a show. >> being on a stage like this just means that you are a bit pretentious. not a bit actually, really pretentious to be just who do you think you are to be just one meter above everybody and saying something in the microphone? >> so you're actually feeling this way? >> yeah, and that's the reason it's your job to be as ridiculous as pretentious, to
say to everybody we are the same. so lets begin something, okay? >> how do you to that? >> just being ridiculous, that's the best thing i can do. i have a skinny body, that's the first thing. my body is already are ridiculous. >> i want to get ridiculous. how do i do it? >> first position is like this like this, in place of doing hey you know, this may be more weird weird. >> do you still get nervous? >> when i go on stage of course, of course, of course. yeah. >> how does it calm down? >> jumping. yeah, jumping and -- yes just doing like -- and it's okay. >> for a global superstar he also has a global biography. he's a son of a bell january mother
and a irann father who was killed in the irann genocide in 1994. paul barrel knew his father, but papa ute, which translates to papa, where are you? >> you lost your father pretty young. >> uh-huh. my mother took like three years to tell me that because i think she was a bit -- it was a bit difficult for her to explain me that. >> did she explain to you how he died? >> actually nobody really know how -- he had somebody kill him of course but we don't know exactly how. and i think it's the case of a lot of people there. >> do you feel like you know who he was? >> i can imagine. i can listen to my family. i want know who he was, never
actually, so unfortunately. >> paul will return to rwanda for the first time since he was a child, on the next leg of his global tour. >> being there again, so it's going to be special. i guess it's going to be really deep, really important, i think. >> tell me about why. >> because that's my origin. i will meet my family. family that i've never met and family that i met once or twice. i can imagine it's going to be a lot of feelings, emotion, discover again my country. my country. >> paul said he expects the entire african tour to be eye-opening. >> i was born and raised in brussels, the only thing i know about africa are the music, the community in brussels, i only
know africa through the prism, is that right, the prism of europe. that's important for me to discover really what's the different sides of africa. >> stromae's message is not only global but is also gender-inclusive. in his video tout lememe, he takes an androgynous identity from identities his video formidable, a love lorn stromae appears intoxicated among multiple cameras, seeming to be an individual who needs help. in concert the audience knows the story and the words.
what do you want the audience to walk away with? >> i wish when they leave the concert they're just thinking that okay that was the story there was a story, actually, just a story of the life of our lives and that's all. >> christof putzel, al jazeera los angeles. >> talk about some moves! after africa, stromae plans to appear at madison square garden later this year. that's "america tonight". tell us what you think at aljazeera.com/americatonight. talk to us on twitter or facebook and come back. we'll have more of "america tonight" tomorrow. >> fall of saigon, forty years later. >> we have no idea how many were killed.
>> unanswered questions, a botched withdrawal lives lost. examining the impact that still resonates today. a special report starts tuesday, 10:00 eastern. on al jazeera america. european leaders are to hold an insurgent summit on how to stop refugees dieing in the mediterranean. ♪ ♪ i am darren jordan you are watching al jazerra. also on the program saudi jets launched more air strikes on generally as fighting rages on the ground in aden and tiaz. nigers military says it's innervatedinvaded boko haram's last nothing strong hold. and a vol caning sending ash in to the sky. ♪