tv America Tonight Al Jazeera July 24, 2015 2:30am-3:01am EDT
look at the jury and how it may need to be modernized. [ ♪♪ ] on "america tonight", switching to the dark side. >> to thing at the same time as working on the cases, he as sabotaging them, that, to me, is the most shocking and disturbing part of the case. >> "america tonight"s lori jane gliha with a rogue fbi ate who used his -- agent who used his job to get drugs. a man's failure of evidence of an agency out of control? and the dividing line - in life and death.
>> blacks could not be buried in the white cemetery, whites could not be buried in the white cemetery. blacks could not be buried christopher putzel in the nation's latest flashpoint. the texas community where a black woman died in police custody. is this really the most racist county in the lone star state? thank you for joining us, i'm joie chen. what began as a routine traffic stop devolved into a flashpoint, reigniting the debate over race and justice in america. ground zero this time is outside houston, waller county where an african american woman died. the circumstances are under investigation. a bitter history lies behind the allegation. "america tonight"s christopher
putzel looks at both sides of that claim. >> reporter: waller county texas, a sleepy rural working class area, a short drive from houston. an area where sandra bland died in police custody. >> you failed to signal a lane change, do you have your driver's licence. >> reporter: a texas trooper signalling. an altercation ensued. >> get out of the car. i will write you up. >> wow. >> get out, now. >> wow. >> get out of the car. >> you're doing all this. >> get over there. >> 28-year-old chicago area woman reelected to texas, where she'd been hired at her alma matyr, texas prairie view university. we travelled to hampstead. the county seat and the town where bland was in the gaol cell.
we met up with her shall smith and elected circle in the county. a former judge was called the most racist in the state. >> would you say this town is more racist than any other town. >> the reason they have gotten so much attention is all the rural areas pretty much have a lot of race. >> he lives in the county of a riftist past. two have more lynchings. according to the equal justice initiatives, 15 trent merrins were lynched in waller county during the time period. it even showed up in cemeteries. >> we drive by the cemetery. what is the history of the cemetery in waller.
>> blacks could not be buried in the white cemetery. whites could not be buried in the white cemetery. blacks could be be buried in a jewish cemetery. that was the way it was. >> it wasn't too long ago the circle said his cousins was killed for dating. >> any time black kids when i was coming, dating white girls, it was a problem. it was a huge problem. my cousin that was coming out of the house, got shot and killed. he was left dead and found dead. girl. >> they insist the problems insist. would you call racism a big problem. >> racism is a big problem. the way i live, it's a problem.
it's a problem that we need to add as leaders we need to look at it and deal with it, and not be in denial about it. >> officials like waller county have acknowledged the race this past. but believe race relations were improving. in the sandra bland case there was speculation that the trooper pulled her over because she was black. the numbers from the texas department of public safety suggest that the state does not have a problem with racial programming. for the past 15 years, they released traffic stop assistance in an effort to combat profile. last year the troopers made more than 2.2 million stops. over 9% of those stops, they were black. keep in mind blacks make up 11% of the state's population. white drivers were stopped more than 1.3 million times. acting for 59% of stops.
a number far greater than those living in texas. >> despite the numbers, they insist blacks are targeted. >> you have to dot your is, and cross your "t"s. that's how i was taught. you have to make sure that you do everything right. you have to make sure you follow the letter of the law. constable smith encountered racism. what was the reaction to you becoming constable. >> the reaction was how did he do it. how did you all let him do it. it still is, it took me 2.5 years to get in the office in waller county. >> her shall persevered because of a non-existent relationship between law enforcement and the black community. >> i have an opportunity to be an example to the community,
show them there's a better way, we can do this thing, there can be different law he's showing his deputies that there's a better way. >> like i tell my deputies, there's two words you need to remember - respond and react. if you react to things you make wrong decisions. if you respond to things you'll thing about what you do before you do it. >> right, yes. let's do it. >> go ahead. >> in the case of sandra bland expert say it's clear that the trooper contributed to the escalating situation. a criminal investigation into his actions has been launched by the county district attorney. >> christopher putzel, hampstead texas. next - inside america's psychiatric ward, the l.a. county gaol. can leaders find a better way to house and help the mentally ill? later his fbi job fuelled his drug addiction.
but could it be evidence of a much wider sandal? >> i was dealing with a horrible opiate addiction and the lives that they did. it was related to my addiction. >> hot on "america tonight"s website. big salaries padded expense accounts and what showed for it. are taxpayers getting their >> i'll have two or three puffs and i'll already have a nicotine buzz. >> a popular smoking alternative. >> we have to learn have to learn more about electronic cigarettes. >> but could vaping be just as dangerous? >> what are you really taking in? >> we don't know what chemicals are in these things. >> techknow's team of experts show you how the miracles of science... >> i'm standing in a tropical windstorm. >> can affect and surprise us. >> wow, some of these are amazing. >> techknow - where technology meets humanity.
>> ...as if there were no cameras here, would be the best solution. >> this goes to the heart of the argument >> to tell you the stories that others won't cover. how big do you see this getting? getting the news from the people who are affected. >> people need to demand reform... >> we're here to provide the analysis... the context... and the reporting that allows you to make sense of your world. >> ali velshi on target only on al jazeera america we fast-forward to treating the mentally ill by incarcerating them. u.s. prisons are home to 10 times as many prisons as psychiatric
hospitals, and one? particular has been noticed for treatments. michael oku with a look inside the l.a. county gaol, and an change. >> it's shocking enough to witness first hand a collection of men confined to a prison of their own minds, broken, vulnerable and in unrelenting pain. >> i need help. more shocking to know the nation's largest caretaker of the mentally ill is here. the win towers correctional facility. l.a. district attorney heads the office that puts the inmates behind bars and is working to stop what she calls the gaol said unjust revolving door for the mentally ill. as many as 75% of mentally ill
inmates return to gaol, compared to 60% who are not mentally ill. in the criminal justice, it can seem like ground hawk day. you see people in the same level offenses. due to them being mentally ill in crisis on the streets and they are arrested and brought in here because there is no other place to take them. l.a. county has the largest gaol system in the country. with 19,000 inmates. more than 20 are mentally ill, and more than 1,000 are beyond bars for nonviolent offenses, such ass drugs, petty theft and indecent exposure. los angeles is the worst place to be, but any is terrible. >> peter is with the a.c.l.u. of southern california, and has been a critic of how mentally ill inmates are treated in the county and throughout the state. >> it's a terrible thing, the
stresses that come from being in overcrowded punitive type situations where there's poor mental health care. they have a hard time fitting in, you have physical and sexual abuse. overcrowding, all these things are devastating for people with mental illness and many of them come out of gaol worse than they went in. >> if you were so mentally ill that you were out murdering people. different. we have to treat you in a locked facility. we are overusing that option. there are those that are lower level offenders. >> da lacy, members. l.a. sheriff's department took us on a tour of the gaol's psychiatric ward where inmates arrive angry or confused, they are evaluated in shackles, here
at pod 172, before being assigned to permanent housing. it doesn't take long before we run into an example of how real the problem is. >> i've been here for 10 years. the police officers don't know what they are doing, they don't know how to operate with little help. i have paranoia schizophrenia, i need help. they can't offer me help. >> reporter: this man is speaking to some of the truths that we have been dealing with. >> he is telling the truth in the sense that in the sense that he's mentally ill, he's in for a petty theft. that's an example. if he were not mentally ill, he would be in court, pled guilty, and be going about his business. when you have someone mentally ill in our county, the only
person you can call is the fire department, or the police department. and they send someone out, and if they, in fact, have committed a crime, broke a penal code violation, no matter how sick option. >> there is some treatment. these men are in group therapy for substance abuse. with so many inmates, we are told guards are often defacto caseworkers. desperation. >> they are backed in here. >> they are backed in. >> can you imagine trying to get well and rest in this environment. what is being brought in. the gentleman at the table receiving therapy through his therapist. and, you know, there's no privacy, right. >> it's cruel and unusual. >> yes. >> we can do better. >> with the help of an outside
contractor, the task force is modelling its difficult erghts plan on -- diversion plan on successful programs in shelby county where recidivism is cut in half. the approach include probation and a possibility of dismissing charges once mental health treatment is completed and involves greater community outreach to the mentally ill to prevent arrest. >> what our task force will do is to link people with services in the community. there'll be a plan to get mental health counselling and never get to the point where they have to be arrested again. >> fast-forward to a roadmap with options. there's a new plan calling for diverting the mentally ill into treatment instead of gaol, with mental health training for all law enforcement officers, and a network of treatment options for offenders who do not necessarily belong in gaol.
>> next - he got his drugs from the f.b.i. a scandal amongst the feds. does it point to a wider circle of failure? >> i was shocked at what i heard. as i heard about what we knew about the facts i was more shocked and concerned. >> friday on "america tonight". road side sheikh downs by the -- shake downs by the police. lisa lisa fletcher on the rules aimed at giving counties spoils. and the law-abiding systems held up by the laws of civil forfeiture. >> investigating a dark side of the law >> they don't have the money to puchace their freedom... >> for some...crime does pay... >> the bail bond industry has been good to me.... i'll make a chunk of change off the crime... >> fault lines al jazeera america's hard hitting... >> today they will be arrested... >> ground breaking... they're firing canisters of gas at us... emmy award winning investigative series...
. >> it is a remarkable story of the drug addiction fuelled on the job. most stunning is that the addict in this case was a federal agent who stole from confiscated evidence. he is now headed to prison, but the fear is that his case points to a bigger reason for concern, a wider when of failure that could impact fbi cases across the nation. "america tonight"s lori jane gliha with the background and the backlash. the incriminating evidence in this black chevy impalas seems like a slam dunk drug case in september 2014. a gip locked baggy on the floorboard, heroin on the center console and guns. this car didn't belong to a drug dealer, it was a government vehicle issued to a washington d.c. fbi agent, one addicted to
the drug he spent his career trying to combat. >> i was dealing with a horrible addiction, and the lies that i did was related to that. >> reporter: matthew was a rising star in the fbi, he worked on a task force investigating violent gangs and drug traffickers. when he was caught stealing and using heroin, cases that he and federal agents spent months building unravelled. >> i'm extremely store to them, and words cannot express how difficult it is. even maybe to see them. it would be difficult to do that, because of how much i lied to them and was dishonest. >> it was shock. i was shocked at what i heard. >> assistant
u.s. attorney kevin brenner prosecuted the case. the agent falsified records and used a dietary substance to replace the drugs he was snorting. all the while destroying police work putting multiple felons behind bars. >> to think at the same time he was working on the cases, he was sabotaging them behind the scenes, that, toe me, i think -- to me, i think, is the most shocking and disturbing part of the case. how did he get away with this. >> he perpetrated a cover up. he would check out heroin from the evidence control center for the purpose of stealing it, ingesting it and using it for his own illegal purposes, but would provide a paper trail indicating there was a lawful purpose, that he was taking the drugs to get tested at a d.e.a. lab.
he was assistantly doing things to cover up his actions. so i think that is why, you know, it took a while for the actions to come to life. >> when his misconduct came to light, three major cases had to be thrown out. 28 prisoners, many of whom dismissed. >> is the republic at risk because some of these people are on the streets. >> if you look at the criminal histories, many of them had violent prior convictions and all of these were involved in the distribution of significant quantities of narcotics. dangerous. >> reporter: lowry worked on cases that are ongoing, involving 200 other defendants. brenner says every future investigation handled by the fbi
is tarnished. >> you can't go back in time and wash it away. his crimes are now out there, in the public domain, and law enforcement, to be successful has to be able to have the trust of the public, and be able to work with the public, and that leaves a mark. >> how to know that lawry did not tamper with other evidence. how do we know that other agents evidence. >> eduardo is a criminal defense attorney planning to use mistakes to discredit the f.b.i. this shows you that there's no controls in the field office. whatever drugs or evidence was seized, was checked into the evidence room, apparently there was no review of it. >> it's believed lawry's mistakes are indicative of a systematic problem within the fbi
r, and he is not alone. >> there's no outside audit. no oversight. so a matt lowry, and how many others of his colleagues, went in and altered evidence with nobody knowing. >> fred is a retired fbi agent turned critic, and spent the last decade of his career working in the washington d.c. fbi crime lab. >> evidence is sacred. the chain of custody is sacred. what matt lowry did for us was to let us know that the fbi does not consider it sacred. >> whitehurst blew the whistle on crime lab conditions leading the bureau to make changes. today. >> there's no accountability at all in the f.b.i. it's a systematic problem within the investigation.
the fbi management category is defunct. it's a good old boy system. >> "america tonight" wanted to ask the fbi about its system for checks and balances, and whether other agents and supervisors have been disciplined. the agency declined the request. >> the chain of command fail. you focus on that man. that little guy that because he did. >> there's about no evidence uncovered that anyone earlier than matt was engaged. >> the fact that he had a supervisor, and most likely had a supervisor, do you think there should be anyone else held accountable beside kyle lowry, elsewhere. >> there was criminal wrongdoing, all of which was perpetrated allow, and none of which was perpetrated by colleagues, be they fellow
special agents, or anyone within the chain of command. >> a judge sentenced lowry to three years in prison, four years less than the sentence brenner sought. >> in your eyes did kyle lowry get off easy? >> sentencing is really at a tern point out of our -- certain point out of our hands. we make the we did that in our case. >> do you think it sends a strong message to a future agent that tried to get away with something similar to kyle lowry. >> he's going to gaol. i think that message outside there, and the hope is that that will be impact of the. >> you can't fix that situation with a sentence. you can't have that situation right itself with a sentence. the damage that he's done to the credibility of that organization, that he was allowed to do
phenomenal. >> matthew lowry says he's remorseful and willing to pay the price for his crimes, a price the fbi believe he'll be paying for some time. >> giving a second look at justice. that is "america tonight". tell us what you think at aljazeera.com. -- at aljazeera.com/americatonight. talk to us and come back, we'll have more. "america tonight" >> brittany menard's decision to take her own life last year. sparked a national debate. >> brittany didn't wan't to die the brain tumor was killing her, she simply took control over how that process would go. >> now see what her husband is doing to keep his promise to change "right to die" laws nationwide. america tonight only on al jazeera america.
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