tv Burton and Anita Folsom Discuss Death on Hold CSPAN October 31, 2016 1:00am-1:39am EDT
for major media. so we could be at the early stages is seems so obvious. to follow 20th-century processed foods, attending salons, and now we do things that differently. that would cause a major realigning of those differences to influence a society will that be a hindrance? >> guest: also television advertising is a revenue model but now the lot of revenue comes from non advertising but what is interesting is but if they switch to the paid model if
people would pay, i would probably pay per month. would that lead to a completely different place it is hard to get people to part with money but they like to part with it in less obvious ways as american culture laugh laugh to say advertising the idea that is so natural. >> taken not think of a better note about what could happen in the future the book is "the attention merchants" the epic scramble to get inside our heads" it is a fascinating read to
for their classrooms. >> host: hell many books have you retained to work over a ten? cynic i've written three books with my husband and i am happy to be here today to talk with you about "death on hold." >> i usually write about economic history, the rise of the united states to becoming a world power, what propelled the united states to achieve the greatness. >> host: if you ha you had to nw that down to a sound bite, how would you narrow that? >> guest: the rise of the united states and entrepreneurs in the property rights to establish tremendous economic development. >> host: where did you two meet? >> guest: murray state university in kentucky when burt
came there to work. work. i'm a lot younger, but i graduated and was working in the department, and he was there as a very young teacher and we ended up dating. >> host: are you from kentucky? >> guest: i'm from kentucky and burt is from nebraska. >> she was the first student in the class i ever taught. i didn't date her until she graduated that i had my eye on her. >> host: prior to hillsdale, where words you? >> guest: sugar land, and burt worked for a foundation in houston. we were in the houston area for four years, and before that, burt was at the center for public policy in michigan. before that, he taught free teen years at murray state. >> host: what is your connection to washington, d.c., to the young america's foundation?
>> guest: i speak to events that those groups sponsor, especially the young america's foundation. i do a lot of events they do for college students. they have conferences for high school and college students to teach the principles of the united states. >> host: why argue conservatives? >> guest: i believe the principles that conservatives were free-market thinkers work best. burt especially studied through u.s. history command of the principles of free markets follow work. if you study the administration of franklin roosevelt, and we've done that in depth, he came up with ideas, but they don't work. policies of roosevelt actually prolonged the proclamation. >> guest: the voluntary exchange of people working with one another, businesses,
competition, the incentive to do well, all of that works well and freedom creates not only happiness, but it creates more prosperity in the united states has moved in that direction and the better we have become until the late 18 hundreds and early 19 hundreds we became complete world leaders and economic development. >> host: what is the process like for you to code write a book? >> guest: he's smiling, but it's difficult writing a book with your spouse. [laughter] >> guest: we have done three, so somehow we have survived it. part of it is we each have expertise in certain areas, and so we leave the other one alone in that area and so we are writing chapters. we are each writing chapters, then the other one edits the chapters. that sometimes stirs up controversy. but we have done well.
the board has guided us come and we have produced three books together. >> host: your most recent book is not on economic history or arfree-market. what is it about? >> guest: it's the story of a prisoner we got to know in 1983 for the first time, and he was on death row. he killed a man in alabama and was in a prison in alabama on death row and in the 1983, "time" magazine published an article on the death penalty. a large cover story because the death penalty was much debated in the 80s and it's become used again in the united states. "time" magazine wrote a book about rutledge, and we both were struck by the story but burt is
the one who took action on that. >> guest: i wrote the story and they described mitchell rutledge as being retarded. he couldn't read or write and nobody visited except his lawyer. the part that struck me -- remember it was a lengthy story -- mitchell was the only person interviewed in the article that was sorry for what he had done. he admitted it was wrong and i apologize for it. he couldn't read or write and was subject to the death penalty. the author of the piece concluded that his life wasn't worth anything. that he was a disposable person. and so, i was shocked that he would draw that conclusion, because he was the only one that showed remorse for what he had done. here he was in a prison. i couldn't sleep that night thinking of this, especially from a christian standpoint. standpoint.
he's abouhe is about to be exec, media way tvs code easier come and he's sorry for what he's done. the lord can forgive him come he can receive jesus as his savior, but i thought he can't read or write so how do i communicate with them. let me just try. some good things will happen. so i wrote him a letter in block letters. the article said that he was in holman prison but there wasn't, so i had to write and i've may be holman alabama and picked a zip code in alabama. it turns out i picked one in northern alabama and he was in southern alabama, that was all. so i wrote this block letter saying you are sorry for what you did what you can still be forgiven and go to heaven. a very short letter and i signed it. i wasn't sure he was going to
get it, but i thought at least if he doesn't, i discharged my duty. i think the lord wanted me to do something, i felt the need to do this and i did it. a couple weeks later, a letter came in the mail and it was from mitchell. it turns out i had the wrong zip code and i didn't have the right prisoner number and the mail is hard to get through without that. but somehow the letter did get through to him. it turned out later i found out he had another prisoner read the letter, and then he was able to compose -- because he wasn't able to read -- he was able to compose a letter in broken english that thanked me for my letter and said he wanted to continue to communicate and he was sorry for what he'd done. so i wrote back and anita became involved and that bega i began r correspondence relationship with mitchell rutledge. >> host: how many letters were written back and forth over the years, how many visits?
>> guest: i think hundreds and hundreds. we don't even have the early first letter is now in our possession, because we turned them in as one of the upcoming court hearings mitchell had gone through. but hundreds and hundreds. we visited him the following year in 1984. we drove down and needed to go to florida anyway and he was in southern alabama, so the road and said would you like to have you visit. >> host: is this the first time you ever been at a prison? >> guest: i have been one time years before in western kentucky with a church group, and then in the early 1980s, burt and i were in the philippines at a maximum-security prison in the philippines with another christian group, where there was an active christian ministry to the maximum-security prisoners. >> guest: but this was incidental to other work. it was a sideline, it wasn't
anything that we wanted it to be involved in. >> guest: these broad long-term ongoing ministries. this was just one for each place, and so with all these letters we thought we would go to visit him and -- >> host: what was your biggest concern? >> guest: the biggest concern i think would be just communicating with him. i had been in to other prisons, so i knew a little bit, but this was a sitdown visit with one man. >> host: and uneducated prisoner. >> guest: his letters were still hard to understand because his english was so bad. he went all through public school, never graduated from high school committed and learned reid and finally went to high school when he was 14, 15, 16 because he could get a free lunch, and often do was his only meal of the day. he was on the street much of the time, said he would get his free
lunch and leave, never learned anything. so i was concerned, but we drove down to alabama where holman is located just outside, a small southern town. i was familiar with that because i've grown up in a small southern town. we pulled up to the prison in the early one morning to visit him come and it was the typical maximum-security prison, guard towers, razor wire all-around defense and pushed the button. we didn't know how to get in, and at that time with the death row inmates, i believed we were the only visitors in the visiting room that day. we sat there for ten or 15 minutes after they searched us. sat at one of the little tables with stumbles around it attached to the floors so no one could
pick up tools. it was a somber environment, and in a few moments we heard noises outside of the room and they were taking handcuffs off this very tall black man. he looked at us and i thought that was because he said the picture. we walked in and shook his hand and that was our introduction to mitchell rutledge. the funny thing to me as it was obvious that he was extremely nervous when he walked in. this was his first time in the visiting room. here were two white people he didn't know. he never had a visitor. the father immediately occurred to me why is he nervous, we are the ones that should be nervous. >> guest: you realize by and large that it was an eerie feeling. >> guest: mitchell really wanted to physics to work.
he wanted to have someone to communicate with on the outside, so we sat and talked and he was very surprising. here was a very interesting man. his grammar and the way he spoke is anisn't what we were accustod to, but he was very articulate in his own way. >> guest: and very smart. a college professor used to dealing with young people in their minds. he was above average and intellect and i felt an emotional intelligence, that's the way that he connected with people and related to the world way above average. >> host: how did the prison administration and the guards treat you at this maximum prison? >> guest: over the years -- because we came back regularly -- they've been very friendly, and as i say they recognize how important these are.
we began to understand that there were an incredible ailment because if you have somebody on the outside that cares about y you, that means you are imported and also sends a signal you can't mess with him too much because he has those that care about him. him. he had half of the people that had no visitors at all and so that separates him from the others and the lawyer was the only one that visits him. no one on the outside would didn't take a call from him so this is special for him and significant in our lives as well. >> host: what year was this? and have you been visiting after since? >> guest: at least once.
she's visiting him on saturday. >> host: this saturday? >> guest: you can only visit once every four weeks. >> host: why is there this rule in place? >> guest: because of overcrowding. when we first got to kno know ie you could visit every two weeks if you could get down there. we couldn't do that because we lived away but there were lots of visiting is available. years ago the state of alabama changed the rules rule, and lotf other states did, we could only visit once every four weeks and that's the only day you can go and you have to be there at a certain time, so you have to make your time up for that day. if i don't go visit for this saturday we might not see him until december because of the way. >> host: is that just the purpose of the rule?
>> guest: that is what we understand that mitchell thinks it is more a process to try to separate the men from the outside, but i think it's simple overcrowding. that is my opinion. he's now in the prison that will oversee probably 40 families. and they have visiting on saturday and sunday. and mitchell's is on saturday. >> host: you are flying to birmingham? >> guest: yes and i have to go the night before to stay over. you have to be in the prison of 7 a.m. the next morning. >> host: to get up, they take the visitors and if you are one of the first three you can have extra time. so it's important to be there somewhat early. >> host: you have to get in line with your car, most are in line around 6 a.m., but they
start letting people through the fence at seven. if it gets too crowded, you have to beat after a few hours. the visiting goes until i think 2:00. >> host: you visited -- what happened to the throw? >> guest: he happened to be removed from death row because of the two trials that he had, and anita and i were their -- i was there for both of them but she wasn't able to be there for the first one because our son was just born. we wer were character witnesseso show that we cared about him and believed in him and we believed that his life was worth preserving and we made the argument that the jury. there were others that have contacted.
so we had a few people there hired by the southern policy wall center. he did a great job and all of us did our best to make the case this person should go from being executed to having life without parole. so five years after our visit. >> host: he's still in prison is there any chance of parole? >> guest: in alabama they passed balls in the meantime that the pardons that were done by president clinton in the '90s affected the life without parole sentences because many states after the pardon of bill
clinton leaving office he doesn't pardons and -- part in the dozens of people somewhere for political favors and money involved but that's another story. many legislators were concerned the future president or future governor might try the same thing so they changed the law. now life without parole, the only way he can get a pardon is the act of a state legislature they would have to pardon him specifically. >> guest: and we've visited the state legislatures. the republican leader in prison reform we talked with and was sympathetic ready to listen to the case and we are walking through with some of the legislators hoping he will be able to receive the pardon. he's been in a total of 36 years and never had a violent offense,
he's a leader in the prison in our society would be better served having match o mitch on e outside helping young people prevent them from going into present were working with prisoners that were released to lower the recidivism rate. >> host: at what point were mitch rutledge . letters coming back in poetry for? >> guest: one of his friends i believe his sister, catholic sister from california -- >> guest: she moved so she could visit him regularly. >> guest: she encouraged him to write his poetry and i think mitchell is a talented man said he began writing poetry early on
about the conditions of how small the bedsore. hbed sore. he was 6-foot 3 inches on this small bed 2 feet wide and it touched me how hard it is to rest when you are that large on a small bed coming into getting a package of cookies to eat and how important that was. but his poetry was very primitive but very touching. when we wrote the book we put the poems in just as he wrote them. they meant a lot to us and we kept his letters of course and the sister lillian made a point to keep all of his poems and prd eventually she had them printed and bound to keep them all together so when we wrote the book we went back and looked and tried to pull out the best ones and what he was thinking at the
time. >> host: in 1983 were you a supporter of capital punishment? >> guest: this is something we differ on a little bit even of course as one couple. i was hesitant about capital punishment also i could see i thought it might be a deterrent and he was much more actively a supporter of it. >> host: what about today? >> guest: and today i still believe it works as a deterrent and the penalty for murdering another person at least the consideration of the death penalty is appropriate. in his case the pardon was available and he was able to demonstrate his life was worth preserving so in the legal system he did win his case but capital punishment does need to be considered still.
>> host: there are several conversations going on today about prison reform and whether these are correctional institutes. what are your views on that? >> guest: he says you have to rehabilitate yourself that the atmosphere is not suitable because they are locked up in a state of nature in the prison. he talks about seeing stabbings when he first came in and you see people in effect dominating other people and a virtual system survival of the thinnest in the prison setting. once he became a christian he said i want to live that kind of life. so the challenge is how to
practice your faith in this atmosphere that is so dreadful for someone to practice his or her faith so that is the difficulty he faces and the way that he has told with hostile people is fascinating and we've talked about that in depth in "death on hold" on how he talks to them and moves them in a different direction. it's quite impressive pace actions and believe that he's able to stand up for himself and it's a model for others. that's why he was selected to be teaching other prisoners and he did learn to write and is receiving college credit. he started as illiterate and now has a college credit, was on death row and is now elected by other prisoners to be their leader and he's in the honors dorm and is a model for others
and prisoners who read his book almost uniformly said you've told my story as well. your hard background is my story as well. many of them are amazed at what he's done to overcome that. >> host: one of the trials he were accused of supporting him so you could write a book and profit. [laughter] >> guest: the prosecutor accused us of that. [laughter] >> guest: this was 30 years later. >> guest: the prosecutor was doing his job. by this point, he had returned three history books. he said you are doing this for
profit. >> guest: he was convinced the defense have gotten in there because there was too much to be true to come into this setting and argue for the removal of this person from death row so he thought he must have an ulterior motive. he didn't understand we were just captivated by his story and we believe in him and were fighting for him because we believed in him and god was guiding our relationship. >> host: when the book came out, was he able to do interviews or correspond with anybody in the press? >> guest: as you can imagine it was very limited. there is a website that our
publisher nelson publishing has put together and they actually have mitch . voice on the website explaining. we have a friend in california who is working on a small documentary on mitchell and she's been able to get permission from the state of alabama. >> host: are there too many people in prison in america today? >> guest: i believe there are. but we have seen there are a lot of people i work with them clinically insane.
it's frightening some of them have to be removed from society. but there are people in prison who can get out and do well and there are ministry groups working with people when they get out. it's sometimes hard to identify everyone and the sad thing is they have no one on the outside and mitchell's mother died when she was 29 and he was 16 when his mother died and then was on the street. so many men have said this is my story, too.
the main problem that leads to this is the breakdown of the family. that is the disaster that we are dealing with. >> host: >> guest: if you look at the rise in the prison population it followed the big rise of unwed mothers giving birth to children where the father wasn't present. when we go to the visiting your to visit, we will see a father which we don't often do, we see a father coming to visit the child. we don't see many prisoners that have a father acted in their life that when we do we know that the prisoner has more hope than those without a male figure. >> host: what was it like for
the former county chair man to work for this? >> guest: dennis who is a hero in this worry. >> guest: he is his lawyer and we are so in touch with him. >> guest: he defended him in the first trial and subsequent hearings to get his sentenced reduced. he's from ohio originally and went to work practically free of charge and the southern wall center would only take desperate cases and his was pretty desperate so he took it to defend him and stuck with him all through the hearings. it was pretty interesting. being a practical attorney he
simply said i never expected them to show up to testify. if there were a number of people at the sentencing hearing. his sister was there, we were there. >> host: the woman from virginia is his wife? >> guest: she was an admiral's daughter and couldn't attend but was at home working for everyone to do their best. even with his background, dennis was funny because he's lonely and on the stand for the defense first because sister lillian was a gentle person who thought everyone should be let out and then they would do better the
next time. he didn't want her to ruin it by saying that so she did a lot of coaching. then he couldn't paint burt as a burning heart liberal. i would say i want to know the star witnesses are arch republicans. he would say i know that. >> guest: he was delighted and it opened up the door to discuss political issues. both of us have respect for one another and helped on help one d enjoy being in the company for one another. >> host: "death on hold" is in his voice. is there a limit of the proceeds he can receive from this? >> guest: some people are wondered why we are listed as the authors.
we put it in his voice to be more effective. >> guest: the book we would send letters back and edit and go back and forth. it took years to write. >> guest: he had to give us the facts. some are not his sentences but it's us taking the facts and then putting it together. but we did all the interviewing with what he calle we call the s involved. we interviewed dennis and some of the sisters who are in the book. we enter you'd sister lillian. we talked to all these people to put it together. it's his story, he gave the
facts and then we had to put it together. when you are writing a book you have to write a certain way, use certain words, think about paragraphs and that isn't what he was thinking about but it was his story. >> host: this is similar to a lot of the cases were situations of bryan stevenson from montgomery alabama. >> guest: he works with death penalty prisoners and has been effective. he backed into it also. he didn't start off necessarily wanting to do that but he stumbled into it. >> host: "death on hold" a desperate prayer and the unlikely family who became god's answers. burton and anita folsom are the authors that worked on this. the website one more time,