tv Lockup Corcoran MSNBC July 6, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT
american's prisons, dangerous, often deadly. there are 2 million people doing time. every day is a battle to survive and maintain order. >> down, on your feet. down. >> reporter: among the nation's toughest, california state prison, corcoran, overcrowded and plagued by racial tension. we spent months inside with officers trying to maintain order with an institution with a notoriously violent past.
this is "lockup, corcoran, extended stay." inmates have been dreaming up ways to smuggle in contraband since 1988. >> there is drugs in prison, obviously. >> whether in the form of drugs. >> it's usually like this. >> or weapons. >> looks like it's made of aluminum. >> piece of stainless steel here. >> off a food court. >> always a race against time for the officer to find the contraband. >> look at that. before it's too late. during the months our crew spent inside corcoran we witnessed our fair share of searches.
today on a yard maximum security facility we caught up with an officer beginning his shift with one of three standard cell searches. looking for contraband, stuff they're not supposed to have. not too many apples -- razors, they break them apart. an awful lot in the cell. good weapon. piece a metal. just sharpen that. can't tell what it came out of, but she sharpened that, that would make a good shank. make a couple weapons out of that. >> is it sharpened to a point? >> no, not yet.
>> we can only book him for having dangerous contraband, it's not sharpened. write up a 115. >> they know how to beat the system by not sharpening them to a point, once they do that, they get send to adsay. as long as it's not sharpened then it's dangerous contraband. >> could make two weapons out this piece right here. >> random searches in all of the cell blocks are vital to the safety of the inmates and officers. as every piece of contraband discovered to mean one less attack. after all, with enough time on their hands, some inmates are fully capable and more than willing to do almost anything. inmates like andre johnson, who is serving a life sentence in the shu for murdering an officer in san quentin in 1985. my reputation was a took care of business, when things need to be it was done. >> acting on orders from his
gang, the black guerrilla family. >> i was given my orders on june 5, june 8, excuse me, that i was to assault sergeant burchfield, who had been monitored. >> my husband was howell dean burchfield. he was known has hal or h.d. he was a very jovial, fun-loving guy. >> when i received the orders, anxiety hit me first because this is a serious thing and i had 16 months to go home. is it life or his life? and that's what is going on in my head. if i don't carry this assault out, then it's me. also the kite read that you would be receiving a fish line from above in a blue bag. everything that you need would be contained in that bag.
double-edged cast iron knife with a double edge and it was tempered because it left no fingerprints. i waited like three days and when the line came down, that morning, i fished it in, took the blue bag off and i got the spear shaft from that off the fishing line and i waited. sergeant burchfield approached my cell with flashlight and he saw me standing there, he asked if i needed a light for my cigarette. i had a camel in my mouth. that's when he turned. when he turned into the cell, i hit him. i stabbed him, speared him one time. he turned around, grabbed his whistle, started blowing it. dropped his flashlight and started blowing it and he turned around and took off down the end of the tier. he got to like 15 cells and he collapsed not knowing that every step he took he was bleeding internally because i hit the carotid artery.
>> there was a knock on the door at 3:00 a.m. they said barbara, we have bad news, i said he's been in a car accident, hasn't he? they said, no, he was murdered. tonight at san quentin. >> i got rid of everything, i cleaned the cell, i'm getting ready of everything. the weapon is already gone, we knew at that time there was no fingerprints and the time they came in, all of the inmates from the fifth tier to first tier start throwing everything out of their cell. that's what happened, they would fine 20, 30 weapons and never know which one was actual murder weapon. the squad came through, security quad, or goon squad, they came through and cordoned off everything and they took the pictures and collected evidence and things like that. so they collected the evidence and find all these weapons.
now, that night i'm up and i'm worried. about what's happening. but they don't know what happened. >> but a break in the case came from the confession of an inmate involved in the murder. >> saw an opportunity for himself, serving a life sentence. turned everybody in. because of my lack of knowledge and planning of the crime, and my age, the judge overturned my death penalty and sentenced me to life in prison without the chance of parole, i don't go to board, i'm just here. >> howell was 36 when he was murdered. he was just doing his job. he was doing what it takes to protect society from that element in prison. i guess i want to know why, why hal?
>> i followed orders, i was a foot soldier following orders. it was either him or men a chose him. it was simple as that. it's prison politics. >> i think they did it because they seized the opportunity and he was there. he was the senior staff member. >> sergeant burchfield was targeted because he was too damn nice. he cared. and because of that caring, he was monitored. >> they didn't care that he had a family. they knew. i've been curious all these years if they're sore for what they did. they haven't come out and said we're sorry for any pain we may have inflicted on you or your family. >> if i could take that back to sacrifice myself knowing things i know today, i would, i take that chance and allow myself to be executed instead of him. >> no one should have to deal
with this kind of a death. this one was taken just hours before he died. next on "lockup -- extended stay." officer react to a tip about contraband, can they catch it before it spreads to the rest of the prison? >> round up the inmates. do a perimeter check. we'll secure the perimeter. for your loss. still doesn't feel real. our time together was... so short. well, since you had progressive's total loss coverage, we were able to replace your totaled bike with a brand-new one. the tank, the exhaust...
living on cloud nine with that u-verse wireless receiver. you see in my day, when my mom was repainting the house, you couldn't just set up a tv in the basement. i mean, come on! nope. we could only watch tv in the rooms that had a tv outlet. yeah if we wanted to watch tv someplace else, we'd have to go to my aunt sally's. have you ever sat on a plastic covered couch? [ kids cheering ] you're missing a good game over here. those kids wouldn't have lasted one day in our shoes. [ male announcer ] add a wireless receiver. call to get u-verse tv for just $19 a month with qualifying bundles. rethink possible. in corcoran the constant influx of drugs and weapons represents a very real threat to the safety of the officer and inmates. the investigative services unit or isu, tries to keep the prisons rampant contraband problem under control.
>> round up the inmates, do a perimeter check. secure the perimeter. inmates nonlethal overdose at his job in a laundry facility spark this is full-scale investigation by the isu team. >> today we're conducting a search of the pia warehouse laundry searching for any kind of contraband. last month we had an inmate overdose in the prison laundry on his job site. >> since corcoran's laundry facilities often act as a contraband distribution center for the inmate population this may be one of isu's best chances to catch the drugs before they spread to the rest of the prison. >> because of the big area and areas they could hide in we'll bring in two narcotics dogs here and do a mass search of certain areas and hopefully come up positive with a hit.
that's the whole plan today. >> obviously these guys know we're coming -- element of surprise is the number one thing here. we got one on them. >> strip them out here along the wall. >> we have approximately 30 inmates that we removed from their job assignment. >> next man come over here. >> basically just an unclothed body search. looking for any type of contraband may be hiding on his person. >> we'll conduct a search in here with canine units. squad, be advised i'm at the door. check around the boots, all of the inmates put their boots upside down.
socks off. armpits. hands. ears. open your mouth. bottom lip. drop your head. shake out your hair. drop your boxers. turn around. see the bottom of your feet. >> run him through here real quick, around the outside wall. >> you guys can run your workers in there and start pushing the buttons and turn the alarms off. >> time to go back to work. >> the dog alerted on a couple things but we didn't come up with anything. so we're out of here.
>> both the inmates and their job site come up clean of any contraband. this could mean it's already reached the prison population. where the items can be bought, sold and used. some inmates like tim duncan know all about the drug trade in corcoran. >> i used drugs in prison my whole life, that was my thing. heroin is my drug of who is -- choice. i don't -- i drink like a fish when i can, i make better wine than you can probably buy. ferment fruit and sugar, put it together, warm it, stick it under the bunk for three days, strain it and drink it. >> he transitioned from a drug user on the streets to an enforcer for the aryan brotherhood in prison, responsible for collecting drug debts.
>> my policy was if one of pie people got in a drug debt i would pull them up and say you're done, cut up their credit card, get together with white, pay their debt and he's done. if he gets drugs again then we'll stab him because he violated and i agree with that. there is drugs in prison, obviously. you get on a phone and cry to mom, i need $100 i broke a tv, whatever lie you want to tell. you get it to the street to the connection their old lady brings the dope and bring it back in. somebody will come to visit and they'll have their little balloons and they stick them up their ass, when they come back they [ bleep ] them out and clean them up, paper it up and cell it. >> coming up, tim's drinking is about to get worse. >> a slight hint of alcohol smell, so -- >> and, they've hit inmates at the job site.
now the isu team is targeting their home. >> get to the door. pop them. plus -- >> urine analysis. >> last-minute drug test could end the conjugal visit before it begins. ♪ that's me... i made you something. ♪ i made you something, too. ♪ see you next summer. ♪ [ male announcer ] get exceptional values on the highest quality cars at the summer of audi sales event. ♪
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in the four months our producers spent inside corcoran we saw inmates committing offenses ranging from violence to drug smuggling. it's up to officer love and the isu team to try to prevent these violations. >> we call our wall of shame is two years of hard work with our investigative services unit, a lot of our drug arrests, visitors, parolee pickups, 95% are individuals bringing drugs into the institution. >> main things we usually get is marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin. >> stuff that these inmates will make money off it. narcotics is the number one
thing. >> got a call from r & r, this was eyeglasses, it's not an eyeglass box when she opened it up she noticed a black substance that could possibly be heroin. we'll nik test, field test to see fit comes back positive. we have them for different types, heroin, methamphetamines, marijuana. if it's positive it's going to turn bright yellow. it's not turning any colors. it's negative. it's not heroin. >> number one is information gathering. we read mail. we talk to the inmates. we talk to staff. listen to phone calls. they talk by the on the telephones and in the mail and they'll schedule a date which they come to visit. so we wait for them, when they come in, serve them the search
warrant. >> most of the time females bringing in drugs, so myself and my partner perform unclothed body search and usually recover the drugs. when we get it it's usually like this. in a balloon, packaged up in bundles, sometime large like this, sometimes they're in small ones. they may mix it up in a package of peanut m & ms so it looks like it's peanut m & ms but he's really swallowing dope. >> it gets smaller every year, which shows we're doing a really good job over here. >> most of the drugs getting into corcoran arrive through visitation. but for inmates like de moore hill conjugal visits are what keep him out of trouble in the first place.
>> my wife come on fridays, you got to be 90 days clean. i would lose my friday visit and six months clean to get another family visit and depending on the circumstances, dealing with drugs, a sticking or something like that, you can go a year or two without a family visit. so a lot i can lose. i would never want to lose my wife and kids and here over some nonsense. i try to do everything i can in a positive way to stay out of the way. >> today, hill's good behavior has earned him another conjugal visit with his wife. >> i go spend time with my wife for a couple days. it's hard to get that privilege, be a lot of stuff going on. fights every day or something. if i have family visits i wouldn't be as careful as i am today. it feels like you're free for a couple days. you're sitting in that two-bedroom apartment it's like
you're at your own house. just can't go outside, like a junior high school kid on punishment. just can't leave the house, you know what i mean? but it's pretty good. it's a relief leaving, coming back is the hard part. >> the actual process leading up to the visit isn't much easier. >> that's hill. >> it can talk hours for inmates to pass all of the security requirements before reaching the family visit units. >> straight ahead. hill. p 7320. >> go on through. that van. we'll drive over there. >> today is the day that i get to come and spend a few days with my husband. him being here is hard but we manage because we make sure we do everything according to each
other and this time alone is important. everybody needs affection and to spend that intimate time together. so doing that is extremely important. >> this is the two-bedroom apartment right here. >> hill has finally made it to the family visit unit but his arrival doesn't mark the end of the procedure. >> in the past, families have brought in drugs and we need to make sure that they're going to remain drug-free, alcohol free and we'll do a urinalysis on him now and after as i bring him back to the yard. see your fingertips, make sure you don't have residue, chemicals that could cause a negative result on urinalysis. go ahead. here is your cup. go ahead and we'll do this in the bathroom. >> all right.
>> while de completes his end of the process, for his wife, it's just beginning. because conjugal visits are sometimes used as opportunities to smuggle contraband into corcoran officer must do a shore owe search of everything the family brings in. >> put all of the containers in sheer plastic so it's visible. we look through it, especially if they've been opened, make sure there is nothing secreted inside. >> almost time to go. i almost feel like an inmate myself being here. you can't come outside after dark. and then when we do come outside we're still enclosed within more gates on the prison grounds, so
that's kind of weird. at least i do get to leave. it's appreciated, though. i mean, just think, we weren't even getting these visits at first. >> can i come in, daddy? >> how you doing? >> is it worth it? >> it's worth it. >> it's wort it. >> while the hills enjoy their time together, the officers back in b yard hope they are one step closer to a find. next on "lockup -- extended stay" the search for contraband continues but are the inmates one step ahead? >> i'm telling you right now -- what makes a sleep number store different?
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♪ corcoran holds more than 5,000 inmates with an average stay of just under 22 years. these inmates have plenty of time to get involved with violence. >> the smallest indiscretion could kick off straight war. >> hand to hand transactions of dope, weapons, whatever. >> there have been more than 350 stabbings since the prison opened its doors in 1988. >> i enjoy hurting people. >> they don't play games here. >> bottom line, it's easy to get into corcoran. >> armed robberies, whatever i have to do to support my drug habit. >> i smoke methamphetamines, i'm addicted.
15 years. i just can't get off it. i can't -- >> but in order to survive and make parole, inmates like raymond must stay out of trouble. >> being locked up here has actually taught me a lesson. i have two years clean today. i get out, i got some positive support. so i think i can do it. last about month i've been counting down like every day. i know how many days i have left. today, i have 22 days left and getting kind of anxious. >> for raymond, a strict routine is what's kept him on track. >> i go to chow and i eat my breakfast. i go back, my cellie is already at work. i clean, 8:00, 8:30 i have guo
to school for prerelease. after school gets out about 2:30 my friend gets out of pai and we run laps and squats and sit-ups and do 100 burpies. after that, i kick back, watch tv for a little bit and after chow i come back and i'll either do some beadwork or i'll watch tv but usually do i some beadwork and 7:00 go to night yard and that's my time to go out and walk around. after yard i got tv programs that are from 9:00 to 11:00 i like to watch. >> i've been beading, trying to learn all i can about different stitches. very intricate. one mistake you have to take the whole thing apart. this is the most recent one i made. it's a bear claw. i thunderbird in here. it takes me out of here. it relaxes me. it's a good pastime. when came to prison i left behind a pregnant wife. right after he was born i saw
him through the glass. didn't get to hold him. that's my son and my stepson. this is about 18 months old right now and his name is ethan nomache, that means little man in indian. gives me hope and reason to pull through. when i get out i'll live with my dad to get myself on my feet before cane raise money to get my own place. get on my feet and get to know my son and be a better husband to my wife. hopefully start a future. you know? coming up empty in the laundry facility search, sergeant lawton and isu launch a full-scale investigation of the laundry workers cells in hopes of locating any dangerous contraband before it's used. >> these are actually some targeted cells that we're after,
inmates that are assigned to the laundry. we'll follow up, see if we can find more metal, more contraband. go up to the cell, strip the inmates out, bring them out of the cell and complete our cell searches. get to the door, go ahead and pop them. >> pretty much looking for any kind of contraband, weapons, drugs -- >> turn around. >> you smell -- i'm telling you right now -- you will be -- did you swallow something? >> what would i swallow? >> you tell me, i'm asking you. >> some chips. >> that's your story, right?
>> 209. >> when we first came up on the cell, the individual on the top bunk jumped down and we had him in here, took his skullcap off and when he did he swallowed something and trying to say it was a cookie but we know better than that. go on body watch and he'll be observed there. observation cell and once we come up with it after so many hours he can be leased to general pop. if he does have and he could be placed in adsic. >> we found tattoo gun, a motor and see cylinder and needle. pretty much all there.
look at that. >> oh, take that. >> a pocket in his sweatpants. we don't allow anything with pockets in the yard. >> a lot of weapons, drugs, anything else you can think of gets concealed in there especially when it's beneath the surface of the pants. >> once again, the inmates from the laundry facility are clean up any serious contraband. but they're far from off the hook. >> it's just a good thing they know we're out there watching them and keeping them on their toes. still ahead, raymond gets out of prison and reunites with his family. but is it too little, too late? >> i haven't seen him in three years, so you know. >> plus, tim may be giving up drinking involuntarily.
>> for inmates in corcoran it's all about making due with what they've got. if they can't get drugs from the outside, many find new ways to get high. one of the most popular i was is drinking pruno, alcohol that inmates make in their cells with fruit smuggled from the chow hall. >> sometimes you can tell they have an apple. they're hidden in their sock or pant leg or back pocket, it's kind of sags down so you can kind of tell. so i usually the ones that do it on a frequent basis you kind of okay, that's the one. you pull them out. the reason why we pull out the apples is because they collect a certain amount and that's when they do pruno.
>> you got an am, huh? it's manufactured alcohol. in the trash. we try to prevent them from taking them back to the units. >> when our producers checked back in with tim who has an affinity for pruno himself. >> that's my only vice. all i can do is drunk. i can't do drugs. >> officer heard him talking to our crew about his drinking, sparking a surprise search of his cell. >> they're not going to find nothing. there ain't nothing there that ain't supposed to be in there. maybe smell some wine -- >> there is a slight hint of an alcohol smell, so, doesn't really smell like there could
necessarily be a batch but there might have been some in here recently. just do a systematic search from one side to the other. >> the worst i got in there is an empty wine bottle. >> i don't expect to necessarily find wine, but perhaps -- >> uh-oh. >> residual -- oh, yeah. so, there was some in here but it's been drank. probably end up giving him a write-up on that at least a 128. he does have possession of alcohol. >> i'll probably end up counseling him. he doesn't have priors for that kind of stuff in here. goes to work every day.
but at the same time, i'll be watching him now. another cell over there we pulled a big bag of wine out of there. that's what it looks like, pretty disgusting. they like it. >> if i'd have known that big old bag was sitting there, i would have had that. i would have tried to get it. >> after more than two years in prison, the day that raymond has been waiting for has finally arrived. >> today's the day i get released. ready to leave this place behind me and start my new life. i have a lot of good support out there, so i feel pretty good. >> check out the window, let them know who you are and where you're going. >> what's your name? >> raymond eacrit. >> where you going? >> home. >> parolee? >> yes. >> coming back? >> no. >> sure? >> i'm positive. >> go back to the same old thing that did you, you'll be back. you got a job waiting for you
when you go back? >> yes, you do. >> you got a good chance to make it. you have been rehabilitated? paid your debt to society? >> yes. >> this is not raymond's first time in prison but after successfully staying clean from drugs and out of trouble in corcoran, he's certain it will be his last. >> i'm really excited about this release. i feel really confident i'm going to make it this time. >> escort. >> i got several safe, good places to stay. i got a lot of family support. >> where you paroling to. >> humboldt county. >> how you getting there? family picking you up? >> yes. >> step there. >> i'm hoping this is the last time i'll ever be behind bars. hopefully this the last cage i get locked in. i'm ready to get out and start over. >> so, what are your chances you coming back and seeing us again? >> no, i'm done. >> you're done? you got -- >> i got a job. >> hooked up, everything? >> i got a lot of family
support. >> they tell me that but i see them back in a few months. they'll be with to you process you out. >> okay. >> this is the information on three strikes laws. make sure you read that before you go out. what i need you to do is sign your name here and print your name right underneath there for me. >> okay. >> i got $200 on you. i give you this money for the train station, all right? do you have any children? >> yes, i got a son. >> how old is he? >> 18 months old. >> that's your best bet you don't come back. be a good role model for your son. okay? >> i will. >> all right. you ready to roll? >> yes. >> i have responsibilities, i
got a son now, i got a wife. i got to try to make things right there and got to get out there and just do it. >> straight on. >> i'm not shackled. that's pretty cool. >> all right, ray, halfway home, buddy. >> i'm feeling really anxious, it's really happening. say good-bye to this place. just happy to be gone. >> i haven't seen him in three years. so you know, got to get to know him again, i don't know. >> there is your -- good luck to you. >> thank you. >> all right.
>> what's up? >> hi. come here. what's up? thank you for coming. >> the whole time we've been married he's been locked up. so i don't really know my husband that well. hopefully he can pull himself out of this and man up. faster, faster. >> i want to be a better dad for my son. dizzy? next, it's been a long search but the results are worth the wait.♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] fight pepperoni heartburn and pepperoni breath fast with tums freshers. concentrated relief that goes to work in seconds and freshens breath.
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search didn't turn up any drugs, these officer' quest to stop the influx of contraband into corcoran is never-ending. >> letter coming in to a gang member and caught this letter, if you look at it you can tell it's been wet at one time and then dried. you can really feel that it has something on it. so, i would test it with a nik test to see fit comes back as a presummive positive test for amphetamines. see how the paper turns brown right away? that's a positive test for amphetamines right there. if it would have gone through basically what they'll do is eat it like that with the dope on it or sometimes heat it up and doel dope will come out of the letter they'll use it.
but more than likely chop it up and sell it, piece by piece. his argument will be that he didn't know it was coming in. it's coming in off the street, he just has to say didn't know it was coming in. this is an actual address, turn it over to the squad and let it know it tested positive, it will be up to them. >> acting on an inside tip about contraband continuing to come through the laundry facility on corcoran's b yard, sergeant lawton and the isu team launch a surprise search. >> this is level three general population facility. basically a medium security facility and this is the laundry room where they pass out inmate clothing. so, we're doing a check of the area and letting the dog do his thing and see what he can come up with.
>> what he's displaying to me maybe some odor up high from something. he doesn't want to leave it. >> he's -- these boxes here, pull those down and check up high. bring them down. maybe have him hit it again. >> after hours of searching, sergeant lawton and the isu team find their first piece of contraband. in the form of an inmate manufactured shank. >> appears to be an oven rack out of the kitchen, sharpened to a point. a crude handle on it right now. >> one of these racks, really concealed close to the window. you know this area here, it's right to the inmate population, a hand to hand transaction of dope, weapons, whatever.
if you had it in your coat pocket just walking by, could look like a pen. obviously these guys don't want to poke themselves, either. >> we'll do an investigation. we can dust it for prints and see if we can come up with a good print, try to determine who is bringing weapons in here and who is pushing them out. >> looks like another piece of metal, maybe some sharpened metal stock. these lips, that's where they're putting them. >> we need to check those real good. >> looks like i got something else in here. can't seem to get it out. >> and another one.
that's a pretty good one. looks like a pretty good piece of metal, piece of stainless steel here, sharpened to a point. pretty good-size weapon. >> it's got rivet holes, off of one of our food carts. that's pretty common weaponry that we find out here on these facilities. pretty pliable, they can bust it in half and sharpen it. >> officer love discovered a needle which was concealed with that bic roller pen, it's got a point to it. kind of crude, either manufactured, that looks like from a deodorant stick. >> that is the stick off the deodorant. >> could have residue in it, something they use on the job site to load up to get high. >> you have to keep in your mind they are actually functioning gang members.
in a general population setting, so this is what they do. the nature of the beast. we'll give them a couple of days, there will be another one back here. >> obviously, this is the place to hide your stuff. >> just got to have us beat them. one time. good. >> the risk of smuggling drugs and weapons into corcoran has cost some inmates not only their jobs, but the small taste of freedom that came with them.
even for inmates serving hard time, love can be a strong motivator. >> who's going to marry you? >> i don't know. maybe one person out there. >> but in prison, reaching out to others can be a dicey proposition. >> i ended up moving on this other dude, which turns out he had other intentions as far as force himself on me. >> they were saying i was spending way too much time in the office with the new female staff. >> some people don't know when these guys are too close.