this is "nightline." >> tonight for the first time in decades, new hope for the father of two who's sentenced for a nonviolent crime was so harsh even the judge who imposed it says it still haunts him. what the president is doing that could change the fates of so many americans locked up for life. plus milk brothers. they're not related by blood but they are nursing from the same woman. the picture gone viral and igniting a heated debate to tonight. is it okay for mothers to bredfeed one another's babies? from wonder woman to supergirl to agent carter. no longer sidekicks, these female superheroes are breaking down the doors to the boys'
club. first the "nightline 5." >> it's macy's one-day saturday with a preview day friday. get an extra $20 off when you spend $50 on select merchandise with your savings pass. earn plenty points. lots of points, lots of places, one rewards program. when salonpas began in japan in 1934 a single patch created a category of pain relief. 80 years later salonpas has evolved into a complete family of pain relievers. perfect for back, muscle or joint
about to meet. he is serving 55 years for selling weed while carrying a gun. he would be doing less time if he were a murderer. but there may be new hope for him and my "nightline" coanchor byron pitts has this update. >> reporter: treasured old photos spread across a kitchen table. a family taking me on a trip down memory lane. >> that's like one of those leave it to beaver photos. >> reporter: here in the angelos' house, pain and anger amidst laughter. >> what are some of those things boys do with their dads you wish you could have done with your father? >> could have been there for my 16th birthday. >> reporter: 16-year-old jesse angelos and his 18-year-old brother anthony haven't seen their father in seven years. it's nothing to do with a lack of love -- their dad is in a federal prison two states away. >> bitter because of that, sad, angry? all the above? >> mostly sad. and then anger after.
sad because there's nothing i can do about it. and angry -- they shouldn't have done that to him. sorry. >> it's okay. >> reporter: this day marked a bitter anniversary. 11 years to the day since their father, weldon angelos, was sent to prison for 55 years. his crime, carrying a gun and selling 24 ounces worth of pot. >> what do you think of the law that sent your brother away for 55 years? >> i don't think it makes any sense. it's like pennies' worth of marijuana. how could somebody be doing life for that? >> reporter: since congress created mant tore minimum sentences for drug-related crimes in the 1980s, the federal prison population has quadrupled in size, from 58,000 prisoners to more than 210,000. many, like weldon angelos, serving decades or more for nonviolent offenses. salt lake city, 2002. weldon angelos was a 22-year-old
aspiring music producer and father of two young boys. he founded his own recording company and eventually collaborated with big names like snoop dogg. angelos also got involved with selling pot. the police caught wind. they set up stings, buying about $1,000 worth of marijuana from angelos. during the deals police say angelos had a gun in his possession. the critical detail that made this case so extreme. the case went to federal court. angelos was convicted. >> mindless is a good word. >> reporter: under the law, judge paul cassell was forced to do something that burdens him still. >> do you ever think about him? >> yeah, i do think about angelos. i sometimes drive on the interstate by the prison where he's held and i think, that wasn't the right thing to do. and the system forced me to do it. >> reporter: under federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws, angelos was facing 55 years for the gun and marijuana charges combined. he was a first-time offender. >> mandatory minimum is a sentence that says, the judge has to impose a particular
minimum number of years. it ties the judge's hands. >> it was designed during the reagan administration's war on drugs to send a message to drug dealers, this won't be tolerated? >> right. mandatory minimums can be used to send message. but at some point the message gets lost. >> reporter: he's retired but says the angelos case weighs on him. the reason he agreed to speak with us about his ruling, something federal judges almost never do. >> if he had been an aircraft hijacker he would have gotten 24 years in prison. if he'd been a twist, 20 years in prison. a child rapist, 11 years in prison. and i'm supposed to give him a 55-year sentence? that's just not right. >> what does the angelos case and others say about minimum sentencing laws in the country? >> we need to change them. most of time our federal criminal justice system works well but there are situations where it fails. the angelos case is a prime example. >> reporter: appointed to the bench by george w. bush, judge cassell believes angelos isn't
the only one paying a high and unreasonable cost for these laws. >> i thought the sentence was not only unjust to weldon angelos but also unjust to the taxpayers. >> reporter: it cost close to $29,000 to keep one person in federal prison per year. weldon angelos' bill after 55 years will be $1.5 million. the price his family will pay? untold. just ask his sister lisa. >> it's hard. i just keep telling him, i'm going to keep fighting, we won't stop at anything. >> reporter: she's made good on that promise. running petitions, filing appeals, even testifying before congress. but lisa knows only an order from president obama can help set her brother free. >> right now our only hope that we have is a commutation from president obama. >> reporter: closer to reality than ever before. >> this is causing taxpayers $80 billion a year. >> reporter: in july, barack obama became the first president to visit a federal prison.
part of his aggressive new program to commute nonviolent offenders, sentenced under harsh mandatory minimum laws. offenders like weldon angelos. >> we have to reconsider whether 20, 30-year life sentences for nonviolent crimes is the best way to solve these problems. >> reporter: the president has commuted the sentences of 68 prisoners across the country. so far angelos has not made the list. today he sent us an e-mail saying he's both encouraged by and nervous about the clemency grants. hopeful his case will be next. for the angelos family, a renewed sense of hope that there will be soon be an end to phone calls like these. >> this call is from weldon angelos, an inmate at a federal prison. >> how are you doing today? >> doing okay. >> reporter: weldon angelos is now 35 years old. >> i never thought this could actually happen. especially in america. >> reporter: phone calls his only link to his boys, now
nearly men themselves. >> everyone we've talked to has said they feel like your sentence is outrageous. the judge called it a crime that you're there. how does that make you feel? do you get frustrated, angry? >> it's difficult to understand. i mean, i feel my sentence was definitely unnecessary. a 15 year to life sentence is not going to do anything thor than a five or ten-year sentence. >> what parts of this experience have been hardest for you? >> difficulty is missing out on my sons' lives. i was super close to my sons. not being able to be with them as they grow hits me the hardest. >> reporter: beneath the teenage swagger we discover two sensitive sons. wounded souls. just watch as they watch this old family home movie. >> give me a kiss right here. kiss right here. aww! >> reporter: the sound of their father's voice both reassuring and heartwrenching. >> i noticed both you guys perked up when you heard your
dad's voice. what are you thinking? >> i just want to go back. >> just being around them, you can feel their heartache. even through their laughter. it's really been hard for them. >> when he teared up, you teared up. >> yeah. it was really hard to see that. because i know how bad he hurts. and seeing what they have gone through by losing their father. it's just emotionally destroyed me. >> reporter: there are literally thousands of families in america like the angelos tonight. mindful a price should be paid by breaking the law but asking, pleading, how high should that price be? for "nightline," i'm byron pitts in salt lake city, utah. up next, the picture reigniting the debate over breastfeeding. the mom nursing two children, including one who's not hers.
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tonight the latest controversy over breastfeeding. this time the uproar involves a picture that went viral. a picture of one woman nursing two kids. one of whom is not her own. why the fuss when wetnurses have been around since the dawn of history? here's abc's rebecca jarvis. >> reporter: in celebration of breastfeeding week, 27-year-old jessica coletti posted this picture to a nursing blog. there she is breastfeeding two boys. one is her son, the other is not. >> i feel like he's my son. and i treat him as my son. >> reporter: on the right, her 16-month-old. on the left, her friend charl charlie's son. >> it's normal for us. we did what was best for our children. >> reporter: it all started out of necessity. charlie was busy working full-time and unable to find
time to pump breast milk and began substituting it with formula. >> how did you make the decision to have jessica nurse mateo? >> mateo was struggling. he was in pain constantly. having so many stomach issues he wasn't sleeping through the night. it was miserable. i was at my wits' end. >> reporter: that's where jessica comes in. she was babysitting mateo and made an incredible offer. >> the first time she came over i asked her if it was okay if i nursed him. and she said sure. >> had you ever nursed another person's child at that point? >> no. it was very natural, it was very -- it seemed very natural. just another baby that was hungry. >> reporter: charlie and jessica describe their kids as milk brothers. and that picture has stirred up plenty of buzz online. while many applaud the gesture of friendship, others have been taking issue. one writing, i found this picture disturbing. another, nothing wrong with breastfeeding but why not cover up? besides, these two children are old enough to eat solid foods.
>> were you surprised by the response? >> i only posted it to a few facebook groups. but then it took off from there. i'm happy that it did because the whole point was to raise awareness. >> reporter: the concept of using a wetnurse is not a new one. the world health organization lists mill frk a healthy wetnurse or human milk bank as the best alternative to milk from an infant's own mother. >> of course there's risk with anything you do that's not the biological mom's breast milk. if the woman is screened, if she's healthy, it shouldn't be a problem. >> if it concern you if she had something happening in her life you weren't aware of you could be putting him in danger? >> it did owe counter to me. at that point we were communicating openly with each other, we weren't afraid to ask those questions. >> she knows everything she needs to know to make an informed decision about me breastfeeding her son. >> reporter: two months ago
charlie and mateo moved in to save money on rent. >> do you worry, charlie that mateo will have a closer bond with jessica? >> never. i think our bond was so special. he loves jess like a mother, that's his mama jess. but he always knows i'm mama. >> reporter: with human milk widely seen as the most beneficial for babies, lactation expert kathleen mccue applauds their decision but isn't surprised by the backlash. >> breastfeeding hasn't been normalized in this country. i think anything that is not common to us is something we say, oh my gosh, this is normal? is this okay? is this right? >> as a teenager when he sees the picture what do you think he'll think? >> he'll think he had a very cool mom. and a babysitter who started a bit of a revolution around the idea of sharing something that's so beautiful and important.
>> reporter: certainly jessica isn't the first woman willing to share her milk and talk about it publicly. in 2009, "nightline" traveled to a rural health clinic in sierra leone with salma hayek. at the time the actress was still breastfeeding her own baby. when she came across a hungry child she couldn't help but feed it. >> i thought about it. am i being disloyal to my child by giving her milk away? and i actually think that my baby would be very proud to share her milk. >> reporter: but milk-sharing is just another part of the seemingly never-ending breastfeeding debate. just three months ago, supermodel nicole came under fire when she graced the cover of australia "elle" with her suckling son zion and breast in full view. >> he was on set with me all day. there were periods i had to feed him. the stylist was, wow, that looks amazing, let's move you on-set
to have this picture taken. >> reporter: the cover appeared in the subscriber-only issue. this cover appeared on regular stands sparking an online controversy with women all over the world posting pictures of themselves breastfeeding, in private and public, all united under #normalizebreastfeeding. tweeting, a shame it didn't go on newsstands. if my son is hungry, i'm going to feed him. if it is uncomfortable for you, then don't look. and a few years ago, a then-26-year-old jamie lynn caused a controversy when she appeared on the cover of "time" magazine breastfeeding her almost 4-year-old son. >> our intentions were to try to help relieve the stigma attached to breastfeeding past infancy. >> reporter: and that takes us back to jessica and charlie. who say they'll continue raising their boys as milk brothers no matter what. >> how long are you comfortable with jessica breastfeeding mateo? >> for as long as she's willing
to nurse him. if he wants it then i'm comfortable with it. >> if he's 5? and he wants it? >> i'd be okay with that. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm ro berebecca jarvis. up next, supergirl and the latest effort to get women in the superhero game. hey terry stop! they have a special! so, what did you guys think of the test drive? i love the jetta. but what about a deal? terry, stop! it's quite alright... you know what? we want to make a deal with you. we're twins, so could you give us two for the price of one? come on, give us a deal. look at how old i am. do you come here often? he works here, terry! you work here, right? yes... ok let's get to the point. we're going to take the deal. get a $1000 volkswagen reward card on select 2015 jetta models. or lease a 2015 jetta s for $139 a month after a $1000 volkswagen bonus. at intel, they make technology that lets a device be a laptop and a tablet, so you can put two in one.
global news anchor katie couric. >> reporter: from abc's agent carter to the much-anticipated "supergirl," no longer just a sidekick. female superheroes are suiting up. a new wave of creators ditching the damsel in distress label and redefining a genre. >> spider-man, batman, superman, a lot of something-mans. not a whole lot of something-womens. >> reporter: even with a fan base at 47% women, comic books, long considered a boys' club, used women to play sexy second fiddles to the male heroes. >> in the '90s things got really severe. ridiculous, clownish breasts. and then both breasts and both butt cheeks appear at the same time, which is what we call the brokeback pose, common enough in comics that we have a name for it. >> reporter: two decades later there's an evolving fan base and
fresh ideas. >> women are stepping up and demanding what they want. and publishers are responding. >> reporter: the genre now depicting strong but real female heroes like a re-envision eed wonder woman. >> i'm a writer on the "wonder woman" comic book. i think of my life experiences and the the experiences of the strong women that i know in my life. and i hope that every woman who reads our book sees a little bit of their own struggles or themselves in the character. >> reporter: these bold steps still brought out some modern-day bad guys. >> any time there's going to be a strong voice, especially a strong female voice, there's going to be people who don't like it. >> reporter: undeterred, these real-life superheroes continue their mission to save mankind, or at least more fairly represent it. >> when i started coming to conventions, it was maybe 5% to 10% women and girls coming in. now it's 50/50.