tv Lockup MSNBC September 30, 2012 12:00am-1:00am PDT
>> and i'm pregnant. i -- >> contraband. >> my sentence is life without parole. there's no way you can say sorry for something like that. >> they didn't allow me to go to the funeral, the viewing or even to the hospital. >> a lot of women here messing up. they lie on you. >> mostly everybody in here has some type of hustle. >> this is my 6-year-old and my 2-year-old. >> my wife. >> you all put some space between you all. >> women like women, men like men, oh, well. >> these people are here making bad choices. they start pairing up. >> we got a really strong bond, you know. i mean, it ain't all about the sex. >> i love you! >> at first glance, the prison we're about to visit might seem like a college campus. but make no mistake, the north carolina correctional institution for women is a maximum security facility. it houses women who may appear less violent than their male counterparts, but many of them have been convicted of serious crimes, from robbery to murder. some who will never again live life on the outside.
you're about to meet some of the daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers doing hard time behind bars. just south of raleigh is the north carolina correctional institution for women. sitting on 30 acres of land, it is home to over 1,100 inmates. >> the female offenders at this institution have committed all different kinds of crimes, from murder to burglary, larceny, driving under the influence. it could be fraud, identity theft. it's from any range of crimes that they may have committed. >> annie harvey has been warden of the facility since 2000. >> one of the things i think that is really important for people to really understand, this is a prison and it's a prison that houses the female offenders. in order for a person to get respect, you must give respect. so, our goal is to manage the
female offender in such a way that she can maintain her human value but also understand that she has a responsibility to do her time because she committed the crime. >> i've been locked up about two months in a single cell. it's terrible. i can't stand it. >> this is the segregation unit. it houses murderers, drug dealers, thieves, all troublemakers. these women are locked in their 8 x 8-foot cells 23 hours a day. >> a lot of them complain that the walls are closing in on them, and that's why they're actually seen by mental health staff, you know, at least once, twice a week, sometimes once a month. >> sergeant tracy wright has been at the prison for ten years. she spent the past three working in the segregation unit. >> this particular inmate, she wants to go to mental health.
she does this every weekend. she's wanting attention. >> when an inmate here acts out, the officers follow a strict protocol and take no chances. >> we basically take their things, because a lot of times, they'll take some of their personal items or some of the state-issued items and try to tie it around their neck and give the illusion that they might be trying to hang themselves. and some of the inmates even try. >> working in this area, it can be dangerous. we have had some assaults up here. a lot of the inmates up here are violent. >> once a day, the inmates are escorted outside to exercise. >> most of these inmates are up here for violent behavior. they are restrained while they're out to exercise, and basically, they use this time to communicate, to walk back and forth, to enjoy the sun. enjoy the weather. and they do their 45 minutes in a controlled environment. >> this is what you call a dog cage. this is a canine dog cage, technically.
it is. this is where dogs be at. >> katherine mcmillan has been in segregation for almost two years. >> i have an 11- to 14-year sentence as a habitual felon and i am in prison for making checks on the computer and cashing checks. i got into a fight. i beat a girl up down in the seg quad and she had two black eyes and she had to go to the hospital and i ended up coming up here. >> there are two classifications of inmates in the segregation unit, intensive control or icon, or maximum control, also known as mcon. both require isolation, but mcon inmates pose the most serious threat. >> why i do have this on? because i'm an mcon inmate. mcon inmates have to where this right here. technically, i'm supposed to have on leg irons, but because i have a medical from the doctor, i can't wear those for six months. once i become an icon inmate, i go in handcuffs. and when we put it through here and they put our hands through there and they take it off. yeah, the fresh air feels good,
because you got people that stink and they don't like to take baths and you are shut up in a building all day and it's kind of cloggy in there and it stink. >> after her 45 minutes of exercise, katherine is led back inside and allowed to take one of her two weekly showers. >> this is what we have to use when we get in here, it's soap. and it's liquid. we get 15 minutes in the shower. once we finish taking our shower, they'll come back and they'll get us. >> stacy, i need the yellow pieces of paper. >> one thing different about when you're in here, you're in the cell, everybody get to talking at the same time. it's kind of frustrating. and me, i got earplugs. i put on my radio, either i put my earplugs in. i like to read. i like to draw, you know? i read books and i got pictures of my daughter. >> it's been less than a year since katherine's baby daughter died after suffering a severe seizure and stroke. >> her name was kiara.
when she passed, i was up here in lockup. one of the lieutenants came up with my mom and she's like, "it's kiara." i'm like, "it's kiara"? i said, "what's wrong? is she in the hospital?" she's like, "no, she's dead." i freaked out. they did everything they could to at least let me go to the hospital, but it was out of the prison's hands. it was upper staff management. and i have to say because i was up here and the status quo i was in, it didn't allow me to go to the wake, to the funeral, the viewing or even to the hospital. because at first her brain died. and they had her on a breathing machine, you know, just to see if they would let me go up there, but when they didn't let me go, you know. and my spirits kind of like dropped, you know, and i didn't eat. i lost a lot of weight. you know, and i looked like a raccoon. my eyes were, you know, all black and stuff. but then i thought about it. i said, you know, that's just another baby that god needed. but every day, i look at those
pictures of my daughter up there, and this is her when she was living and i always think of the happy days. i be like, i got a story to tell. if i ever can get out and i can tell other people about my story, i think it will help a lot of people. up next, loan sharking inside the prison. >> you have to survive in here. prison's not free. >> and the give-and-take relationship between officers and inmates. >> man in the building! man in the building!
well, mostly everybody in here have some type of hustle. a lot of people don't have help from home and you have to survive in here. prison's not free. >> well, today is payday. the inmates have all gotten paid. this is also a day if you have borrowed money on the yard, this is the day that you should have the money to pay it back. and an infraction is against the rules and regulations, but it happens. >> they give you three meals a day and a bar of state soap and that's about it. >> if you don't have anybody on the outside sending you money, the only jobs here you can make money off of is probably 40 cents a day.
>> kathy phillips is doing 14 years to 17 years for forgery and writing bad checks. devin gann has been locked up for second-degree murder. within the prison walls, they are considered loan sharks. >> that's the best hustle. that's where you're going to make the most money. >> i started out with $10. put the $10 out, pulled in 20 the next week. put the 20 out and pulled in 40 the next week, and i kept doubling until i got on my feet and got stable. it's a good hustle. if somebody doesn't pay me, i just don't deal with them anymore. i tell my friends that are loan sharks, don't deal with them. you got some people in here that will bust them in the head with a lock or something. i ain't down with that. you'll go to single cell. i'm not feeling that. i mean, i'll just chalk it up as a loss and go on back to my business. >> devin and kathy are not only business partners, they're also lovers. >> i'm the wife. whatever she's involved in, i'm involved in. before her, i had my own hustle that was pretty much
staff-related. >> in the past, devin says she baited staff into relationships to frame them but stopped for fear of getting caught. >> i would find weak staff. whoever i found was obviously in here to -- because they obviously can't find somebody on the streets to get hooked up with, and then i would play them to get some money. >> the small percentage, one or two employees, that may cross the line with inmates, they cause problems. that's a security breach, it's an issue, because they may bring things in to the inmate such as drugs. they may allow inmates to do things that are inappropriate. >> you come in here for a relationship with an inmate, then obviously something's wrong anyway, and i have no remorse when it comes to that. i feel as though it's some type of perverted injustice and you come in here thinking you can get a free lick off of the
inmates and you have access to the free world. i've gotten a lot of money that way. >> yeah. >> but i kind of cut that out in this relationship. >> yeah. no more. no more. >> i'm retired. >> ladies, y'all put some space between y'all. this is a prison, you know. this isn't nothing to play around with. as a man, we have to set standards. we have to let them know that we're here for a job, not to be their friend. >> officers have to be vigilant in order not to be compromised. this is especially true for the male officers in a women's prison. >> man in the building! man in the building! >> whenever we have to go in the far end of the dormitory, we have to have a female officer with us at all times. this way we're covered as a man. nothing will be said. nothing will be alleged. >> as hard as the prison administration tries, some contend that a few bad officers make their way into the system anyway. >> tell them what it was. >> yeah, i told them what it was. i told them how officers do inmates around here, how they
bring drugs in here for us. what are they going to do, lock me up? >> so when we do find people who are inappropriate, who violate the rules or may break the law, then we take immediate action to investigate and to take the appropriate disposition, whether it's dismissals or if they receive some type of disciplinary action. >> typically, there are very few serious infractions involving officers at the prison. >> okay. finish up. finish up. >> the rest of the staff follow the rules by the book. >> contraband. you know better. >> what contraband? >> huh-uh. contraband, right? uh-huh, bye-bye, get out, get out, get out. get out. >> it's really not contraband. this is what it is. a pack of heinz ketchup, right there. all day. all day long. they give you, like, ketchup from the canteen where i brought it in here to eat with my meatloaf, and she said it was contraband.
on certain days when you eat certain things, they give it to you so you can have it. but on the day they don't give it to you, it's contraband. >> when i see it, i catch them on it. i call them on it. >> she just wanted to bother me a little bit. that's all. >> when they are doing something wrong, i have to let them know that they're doing something wrong. and i will listen to them, and some of them just want you to listen. i'll listen to them. i'll talk to them. when it comes to the bottom line, i'll lock them up, and they know that for a fact. up next -- >> teresa. >> who is it? >> it's my wife. >> forbidden relationships inside north carolina. >> i love her. that's my heart.
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heavy, so they just call me "heavy d." they call me the overweight lover, "heavy d," so i stuck with it. >> "heavy d's" real name is pamela prattsville. she is serving a three-year sentence for dui. and she's no stranger to prison life. >> i've been in and out of prison seven times. i came to prison when i was 17. and i'm 33 today. i have one daughter and she's 20. and i said if i ever had sex with a man one time and get pregnant, then i would be gay the rest of my life. and that's what happened. and here i am. >> while prison officials discourage intimate relationships between inmates, there are some that cannot deny their sexual orientation. >> we call bull dagging. a slang as word, bull dagging. >> teresa? >> who is it? >> my wife. i have a girlfriend here. i have several girlfriends, just not my special girlfriend.
i have two or three girlfriends. this is the bull dagging crew. >> why did you say that? my mama be watching this, girl. she's a christian. >> forming a relationship in prison is a way for many of the women to survive. >> women like women, men like men, oh, well. >> relationships with female offenders is a very interesting, a very unique and a very complex issue that we have to deal with and contend with. >> a lot of women in here mess it up. lie on you, cheat. >> and it's just a game to most of these women. >> yeah. >> a game. they drag you for money. >> they ain't never been in a woman relationship and i guess i sway them and con them. i guess they have a game talk with me. so when they come in, they want to know about the bull dagging, and i be like, i be thinking, yeah, there's one right there. nine times out of ten, they just give me what i want, i don't have to play them. >> because there are penalties for having sex in prison, inmates will sometimes cover for other inmates to allow them a private moment.
>> like i say, ten-four for me and my girlfriend while we go in here. because she's going to fall down and have a seizure. >> that's another inmate ten-fouring for another inmate while they have sex with their lover. some of us been together here four years, some of us been together five years, some of us have been together a long time. you see what i'm saying? and it's easier for them to ten-four for them, and you can give them two or three cigarettes or a pack of coffee. and some of them know what you're doing. and they don't care. and that's why i tell you, some police is down with the inmates and some police that is against inmates. so -- >> some are against gays. >> some of them really don't like gays. >> in a prison setting, those things we have to discourage. and one reason we have to discourage is people have been here for a long time. and sometimes, some of the boundaries get clouded between the women. >> some of the people in here haven't been with women and are curious and try it. i do it because i love women. >> a female offender has a lot of needs and part of that is to feel that someone cares about them.
>> i love animals and jennifer takes pictures of little dogs and stuff and brings them to me and i hang them on the wall. >> three months ago, danica cox and jennifer porter became girlfriends, but they haven't been able to see each other since jennifer was sent to administrative segregation on an assault charge. >> this girl claims that we put the police on her for something, and she started running her mouth in the dining hall. and we just let that ride. i went back to my dorm. and she ran up on me in my quad and punched me. i got scratches on my face and we fought. >> this is a picture of her when she was younger, as a feminine woman. this is her now as a little tomboy. >> this is the longest i've been away from her. it's hard. it's really hard. >> she gave me this for valentine's day.
and i sleep with it every night. >> oh, i love her. that's my heart. >> i just miss her. i'm trying to stay close to the things that she gives me. >> we've got a really strong bond, you know? i mean, it ain't all about sex, you know what i'm saying? we just clicked from off the gate. >> i just read her letters all the time and talk to her mom and try to stay as close to her as i can. >> danica will be in prison for the next six to eight years on a robbery charge. jennifer has only eight months left on her sentence. >> it may sound crazy, but i'll probably end up even coming back. i don't think i can make it out there without her. and i know she can't make it in here without me. and i know it's killing her right now. >> i'm able to see her through a window from single cell.
and i sit out here for, like, two hours and i'll draw a heart. >> i really can't see. i just see her hand waving. and she just sees my hand waving. >> on this morning, jennifer has her disciplinary hearing to determine punishment based on her fight with another inmate. >> hey, jennifer, how you doing? >> not good. >> it will be okay. >> am i getting out? >> it will be okay. >> are they playing mind games? i don't understand why they ain't allowed to say anything. >> danica has been sitting outside the disciplinary hearing all morning waiting to see jennifer. >> we didn't hear nothing. i just heard that she was in master control, so i came up here to see if i could get a glimpse of her. >> you've never been in segregation before? >> yeah, for a 23. but i knew what that was about. >> what's a 23? >> you care to explain the 23. >> explain it.
>> it's a sexual act. but, i mean, i knew what the maximum outcome of that was was 20 days. i don't know what this is. i don't know even know what i'm going to be charged with. >> while she waits, jennifer fears the worst, that she'll be sent back to ad seg, away from danica for the rest of her eight-month sentence. >> don't get upset because you don't know yet. >> well, i'm expecting the worst but praying for the best. >> i'm about to flip. >> can we go look through the window? >> let's see. >> you know who i am, lieutenant james. you received, the state says, at about 7:19, she heard someone yell "fight." when she ran around the corner, she observed you and inmate teresa westbury in a physical altercation where you were kicking and stomping her. you understand your rights?
the recommended charge right now is a c-4 and a c-3. as you are aware, i can either agree with that. don't get happy yet, jennifer. because you know i can either agree with that or up the charge to the next charge. okay? >> okay. >> so i am going to charge you with the c-4. i'm going to dismiss the c-3 because the officer said when she gave you the directions to stop, you did stop. okay? how do you plea? >> guilty. can i get out today? >> no, ma'am. >> jennifer will not get out of ad seg until she serves another 13 days. that's much less time than if a more serious sentence had been handed down. >> sit back down. for about five minutes to the ground, please. >> grounds close. >> until the grounds close. don't say nothing. i don't want to hear you talk no
more. >> the grounds are now restricted. all unassigned inmates report to your dorm. >> jennifer and danica will not be able to see each other today. the prison closes the yard, meaning danica will have to return to her dorm. >> when the bond between two inmates becomes more important than the individual inmate herself, that's a security issue. all these people are here for making bad choices. and if they begin to continue those bad choices inside, then they start pairing up with bad choices. and that makes a large bad choice for us. >> i love you!
ówçwç?yçysxçao for many of the inmates arriving at the north carolina correctional institution for women, the really hard time is the day they arrive. they are forced to contemplate a new life without freedom. and as you're about to see, making that adjustment is never easy, for first-timers or repeat offenders. on this rainy morning, several
women arrive to begin serving their time. >> oh, man. this is ridiculous. >> first stop, the reception unit where the inmates are processed into the system. >> now i'm nervous. i've never been in a prison before. i did have a brother who died on death row in texas. >> this is laura prince's first time in prison. like many of the inmates here, she stole to feed her drug habit. laura will be in incarcerated for the next six to eight months. >> we stole $15,000 in jewelry. we broke into somebody's home. >> crack cocaine is a very serious addiction.
it's very hard to let go. comes to you at night in your dreams. it comes to you in your dreams. it takes more -- more than 30 days to get off crack cocaine. it's just bad. it's really bad. >> it's 11:00 a.m. and processing begins with each woman handing over personal effects, money, jewelry, clothing. >> you got tattoos starting from the top and work your way down. >> i've got one on my back. >> i'm a little nervous. i've never been to prison. i've done jail time but i've never been to prison. >> alissa smith is another new arrival. she's here for parole violations. >> i don't know what to anticipate. i've heard bad things and i've heard good things. it's -- i'm just keeping my eyes open. that's about it. >> some of them come in and they're just nonchalant. especially the ones that had been here quite a few times. we have a lot of repeat offenders that come in. >> sharon thompson. >> most of the repeat offenders that come in and they're like celebrities. they know everybody and they ask is -- is so-and-so still working here, whoever. >> you got any scars or marks or tattoos? >> tattoos. >> start from the top and work your way down. >> rose with a bleeding heart. >> on your left shoulder? >> on my right. my kids' names on my right ankle. i have initials on my hands.
>> we do our strip searching in this actual area here. and when we do do the strip search, we make them squat and cough several times, and we're visually watching that just to make sure that they do not have any contraband. >> after a strip search and shower, it's off to be photographed and fingerprinted. >> do you usually do your whole time? >> like i have a six-to-eight-month sentence. >> you're going to do at least six months. >> the whole eight? >> if you get in trouble. this is prison, do your time. >> not nobody else's. >> that's right. >> i ain't here for no drama either. i'm ready to get this over with and go home. >> unlike laura and alissa, sharon thompson has been here before. she violated parole and has been sentenced to two years. >> her fingerprints are kind of difficult because there's a lot of scarring. i don't know, maybe from cigarette burns or what have you. this is admission inmate, sharon thompson. >> i didn't want to come back.
it's not that i -- um, i won't be back after this time, i know that. but i violated my probation, so here i am. >> it has now been six hours since these new arrivals were processed. >> we've been sitting here the whole time. >> that's it. ready for a cigarette. >> definitely. definitely ready for a cigarette. >> we are. >> our nerves have not calmed down. >> they gave us shampoo and deodorant and her deodorant had been used because it's got the brown stuff on it. i'm telling the truth. >> i'm walking outside. >> soon the new inmates will be escorted to a dormitory where they each will be assigned a bunk and a locker. >> this dorm is divided into
four quads. so we can house 136 in here. we have had as many as 160. crowded, especially if it's hot. uncomfortable. a little tenser than normal. >> i do not like this place. this is my first experience, and i wished it was my last. >> you don't have none of the luxuries whatsoever. what little bit you do have, it's a little more costly than it is on the street. you have to borrow from people you never met before and try to make friends, if you can find a true friend in here. >> women fight over the smallest things. small words can make just anyone mad and they can explode. >> we can't eat because the hot water don't work. we can't eat if the hot water don't work. >> i have two children at home that need me more than this place needs me. and i don't never want to come back. never, ever. >> and i'm pregnant. >> at any given time, there are more than 40 pregnant inmates at this facility. >> make sure you get the window. it's got plastic on it because it's not -- it's not closed.
worn-out. wet shoes to go eat. oh, yeah, we got spider bites in here, too. there are spiders all up in the vents. and they are call brown recluses. and when they bite you, your skin swells up. >> we provide prenatal care for them, and they are seen just like they would be if they were in the community. by health providers. and they deliver their children at an outside hospital. after they give birth, then a social worker is coordinated with them to determine who will take the child. >> kelly collins is seven months pregnant. she's serving anywhere from 11 to 15 months for breaking and entering and violating her parole. >> when i have my baby, i'm giving it up for adoption. i'm just 21, and i got two other kids, and they got tooken away over me coming to jail, and i know that i've got a drug problem. so, therefore, i don't want to bring a new kid home knowing that i've got problems when i can give him to someone that can give him a much better life. it's hard, but i think to myself
all the time about what's really best. and i can't be selfish, i got to do the best for my kids. >> several days later, we checked in with laura prince to see how she's adjusting to life in prison. >> at first i was having night sweats, cold sweats. i'm feeling a lot better. there's not much to adjust to. it's a lumpy bed. old, hard springs. >> right? >> what does that tell you? do you hear that snoring? we have that one, the one that goes really deep. you got to share a locker with two people. you get one roll of toilet paper per week. really hard. >> all right, ladies. at 3:45, you should go to the diagnostic center to take some tests. i know you all been taking tests all day. >> you get up at 4:30 in the morning, breakfast is at 5:30. you can't lay back down until
1:30 in the afternoon. by the time you lay down at night, you're exhausted. >> for laura, the adjustment to prison life would be almost unbearable if it weren't for the friendship she now shares with other women who arrived the same day she did. >> we trust each other. we're wary of the rest of the population. >> there are some thieves in there. >> a bunch of them. >> they'll take advantage of you really, really quick. >> okay, my daddy says they're not in here for singing too loudly in church. next on "lockup," it's all in a day's work behind bars. >> thank you for calling north carolina travel and tourism, how may i help you?
for most of the inmates of the women's prison in north carolina, work is an important part of life behind bars. there are the traditional jobs, such as making license plates and working the cafeteria line. but the prison also offers unique vocational programs, allowing inmates to learn a variety of skills and trades. >> thank you for calling north carolina travel and tourism, how may i help you? >> anyone calling a 1-800 number for north carolina vacation tips would never know they might be talking to a convicted murderer. carolyn james is serving a 21-year sentence for killing her boyfriend. >> it was a domestic violence situation, and it got to the
point that everything just kept escalating. and i tried to commit suicide. i got the gun and i was getting ready to shoot myself and he took it from me. we ended up fighting in the jeep, and we went off the road. and when we went off the road, i was thrown across him, got the gun, and tried to get the gun and tried to shoot myself, and because i didn't feel the bullets, i kept shooting and a bullet got him in the head and it killed him. is there anything in particular you want in a cabin? >> carolyn won't be released until at least 2013. for now, the opportunity to help tourists plan their vacations is both a job and an escape. >> talking about the different places makes you feel free, particularly when you're getting into the details and talking about a cabin that has a front porch and the river going in the backyard. you can actually see it, and you can even picture yourself sitting back on the rocker, fishing or just talking. it's loaded with amenities. most important, you have your very own boat to cruise the 27 miles, so that sounds pretty good. you feel like you're outside in
the real world on a real job. it helps the days go by. it's freedom. you don't see the bars. >> making dentures isn't something you'd expect to learn in prison, but for inmates like christie wells, it's a potentially high-paying skill. >> it's something that's lucrative out there. it's never going to end. people is going to need false teeth. so this is something i can use when i get at home. >> christie was convicted of first-degree armed robbery and attempted murder and is currently serving a 16- to 22-year sentence. >> i never really wanted to do teeth. it was -- my grandmother and grandfather had false teeth and they scared me. but since i've been here, i've taken computer information systems, culinary arts, the travel and tourism apprenticeship program, and this was basically the last thing. so i decided to take it to see if i would like it, and i loved it. and i love doing it.
i don't mind false teeth now. >> now i'd be glad to go home and tell my son, hey, i make teeth instead of, hey, i sell drugs. >> there's two things you can do when you come in here with a sentence like mine with long-termers, give up and do absolutely nothing, or you can come in here and try to improve yourself. that's what i have done since i've been in here. >> barbara geiger is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. >> i was in an abusive relationship, and my husband and i had a terrible fight one night. and i defended myself. i shot him. i'm 63 now. but there's a lot out there. there's a lot that i can do, a lot i can give back. >> at first glance, this could be a beauty shop in anytown, usa, but it's actually on the grounds of the prison. >> can i have a magazine, please? >> yes, ma'am. >> the inmates call it cosmo, and it's here where they learn
how to style hair and give facials and manicures. >> it makes me feel like i'm at home going to the beauty shop, and actually, it relieves the stress. it takes me away from that environment, for a little while at least. >> my instructors, they don't treat me like an inmate. they treat me like a student. first of all, i'm a female and i'm african-american and i've been incarcerated, so that's already three strikes against me. but i think i could actually have another chance to become someone, to be something. i would always turn my client away from the mirror so that she's surprised when she see that transformation. >> shampoo and conditioner, please. >> jennie brown is 21 and serving six to eight months for trafficking cocaine and breaking and entering. >> this is where i hand out the supplies, brushes, shampoo/conditioner, grease, spreads, curlers, perm rods. whenever they bring it back, i check it, to make sure no hair is in the brushes and make sure
it's all sanitized and clean. >> many inmates see the cosmo program as a chance to not only better their lives but the lives of their children. >> lance and darion, my 6-year-old an my 2-year-old. that's why i'm here, so i can legally provide what they need. >> it's what you make it. whatever situation, it's just what you put into it, you get out of it. you put nothing in, you get nothing out. >> although many of the inmates here have committed violent crimes in the past, the relaxed atmosphere in cosmo allows the security officer like sergeant ericka estis, to let down their
guard. >> i feel comfortable with her doing my hair. i mean, it's just like if you go out and in the free world getting your hair done, you're taking a chance with somebody doing your hair. >> ladies, i need for you to return your shears, please. >> but at the end of that day, these hairstylists are still convicted criminals. and any sense of freedom is short-lived. >> being in prison, it's going to keep me out of trouble, i know. 'cause i don't want to come back. i don't want to come back. i want to stay at home. at first i was all big-headed about it. but i don't want to be here. this ain't no place nobody wants to be. >> up next, one inmate gets her freedom while another contemplates a lifetime behind bars. >> if only i could go back and not do it but you can't.
jessica mcmahon has been an inmate at the prison for almost a year. but today she's going home. >> don't make me cry. good-bye. you'll be okay. >> drugs are the reason she ended up here. they're also responsible for the death of her mother while jessica was behind bars. >> now it opened my eyes and i'm done. because i actually thought about going out there and getting high again and making my fast money. when i lost my mom, it wasn't worth it to me. it was over. >> i'm just taking my stuffed animals and letters. everything else i'm going to leave here with all my friends. >> i don't know what to say. i'm just happy for her. she's going home. she deserves it. >> this whole quad stuck by me when i lost my mom. it was like a family in here. >> although jessica's sentence was relatively short, she
believes the experience has been life-changing. >> when i got here, i grew up here in prison. it was hard. i read third grade level. it's took me eight months to get my g.e.d. normally it takes somebody a month. but i got it. it's good knowing it's the last time i'm going to be locked up. but it's sad knowing i was ever in it. >> like jessica, some of the women at this north carolina prison feel a sense of shame and regret for the crimes they committed and the time they've had to serve. >> i don't know. it's like every day, every night you go back, if only i could go back and not do it. but you can't. you can never go back. >> cynthia was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. what makes her situation unique is that prior to killing her husband, she worked as a prison
correction officer. >> a lot of people will look at a woman in prison. they want to find an excuse. they want to say there's got to have been some provocation, some reason why she did such a terrible thing. in my case, that is not the case. my husband did not abuse me. he did not deserve what i did to him. we had been married 22 1/2 years and he was a good man. but my husband was clinically depressed. he was not an easy man to live with at that time. he was hard to please. >> when cynthia became involved with another man, she shot her husband and made it look like suicide. >> i wish i could go back. there's no way you can say sorry for something like that, no matter how sorry you are, you can't say i'm sorry because it's just so insufficient. there's nothing that can ever
fix it or make it right again. >> despite the fact that cynthia will probably never leave this prison, at 46, she's found a new purpose for her life. >> all i know is that there's a lot of power in prayer. >> yes, there is. >> especially the more prayers going up -- >> if you say why, why bother? i might as well just stay in this bed. why even get up? but i've got a reason to get up. i've got a reason to go on. >> it was very hard for my son to accept the fact that i was here in prison. >> they don't know how to deal with it so they kind of withdraw and go there until they can sort it out for themselves. >> it helps me just knowing that, you know, i've got sisters i can lean on, someone i can talk to, someone i can share these things with. because in here, you've got to be careful who you share things with. >> you're right. >> just about everybody. has a shorter sentence than me. and they'll have a chance to go out. if i can get them to look and see their life can be different,
they can get themselves turned around. there's people out here that are hurting so bad. they didn't need to do what they did. it doesn't excuse their guilt, but they've lived some lives that will just rip your heart out. >> for jessica mcmahon, the chance at a new life is just hours away. >> you have anyone that can pick you up? >> no, i'll be riding the bus. i'm going to ride the bus to waynesville and my grandparents and my son are picking me up. >> good luck. >> it's going to be the first time i've seen them in a very long time. thank you. >> it's going to be hard on me, but i'm happy. it's about time to go home. >> i want you to grab your bag of property over here. i'm going to drive you to the bus station. >> i know it's job security but still, it's good when they get out and they're doing good. you hear stories of them being
out, you hear they got a good job and they're doing good. >> that's all you had, right? >> yes, ma'am. >> some you can tell they won't be back. >> i know you're nervous, aren't you? >> yes. >> this is a happy day. you're going home. statistics show that while the recidivism rate for female offenders is low, it is increasing nationwide. even more startling, over the past ten years, the number of female inmates has nearly doubled, making it the fastest growing prison population. that's our report. thanks for watching. i'm john seigenthaler.