tv Lockup Raw MSNBC April 19, 2015 4:00am-4:31am PDT
due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. >> msnbc takes you behind the walls of the most notorious prisons into a world of chaos and danger. now, the scenes you've never seen, "lockup: raw." >> prisons usually aren't associated with churches, but over the years on "lockup," we filmed almost every one there is and yet still on a standard cell search, we found out that behind bars few things are sacred.
>> whatever religious preference they are, they'll still hide dope in it and weapons in it. you'll find razor blades stuck up in the bindings. you know, everybody finds god in prison. this is where he's at. come on in. >> but we've met some inmates who seem very devout even as they grapple with the realities of their crimes. ♪ >> it was in the middle of central california that we heard the sounds of the muslim call to prayer emanating from a cell at kern valley state prison. jose garza and rahan bhutto explain to our crew how their religious practices aren't hindered by prison bars. >> at 5:00 we come up and do prayers and then we just begin our day like that. >> so talk to me a little why this cell looks so different from other cells we've been in.
>> half islam is based on cleanness. we have to be clean so we keep ourself clean and well organized. islam is in here or street is the same. >> but bhutto and garza had more in common. >> i'm charged with murder first degree, so as far as details, life without possibility. same thing. >> i've been here for heat of passion. i caught my wife with somebody and -- >> and? >> killed her. you know, i'm not proud. i regretted every single minute of it. >> so what was the charge? what was the conviction? >> heat of passion. >> you know, he told us he took responsibility for his actions but during the course of the interview, it seemed as though he kind of left the door open a crack to say, i'm not really sure. >> a lot of people say i can justify according to the bible or koran. if your spouse is cheating on you, you have a right.
god telling us certain way it is but you're better -- he give us -- we're human beings. we're given choice right from wrong. i can't justify what i did. she had a mother. she was somebody's daughter and she had a father. the worst part is i have a daughter with my wife and she have not just the mother but the father, what i did. i live with that every day. >> born in pakistan but raised in wyoming he told us his religion made him a victim as well. >> during my trial i was in september 11, so it was -- not a one case like mine anybody got sentenced like i did because i'm from pakistan. i believe in muslim. you know, i'm a firm believer, still, you know, i'm whatever i have coming nobody can stop it.
nobody can benefit me or nobody can harm me without his permission. the way as a muslim i believe when leaves form the tree, it doesn't fall without his will. so every day what i do, what i don't it's been written in my book. ♪ why won't you take my hand ♪ we will follow just the same >> bhutto is not the only spouse killer we met who sees the hand of god's work in their lives. our crew noticed cynthia while she was singing in the gospel choir at the north carolina correctional institution for women. ♪ i want the father's way >> i've been convicted of first degree murder and my sentence is life in prison without parole. >> but the real surprise came when she told us of her life before prison. the mother of two used to make her living on the other side of the bars. >> there's not too many people in here who used to be a correctional officer for the same state that they're now incarcerated in. but it's actually been very helpful to me because having been an officer, i can understand the reason behind a
lot of the silly rules we got to go through and the procedures we got to go through. i understand their perspective more and so i just -- it's easier to take some of the humiliations we have to go through. >> ruple offered no excuses from her fall from correction officer to inmate. >> it was the death of my husband. we had been married 22 1/2 years and he was a good man. my husband did not abuse me. he did not deserve what i did to him. it's horrendous. there's no excuse for what i did. i know that i'm here -- that life is a merciful sentence for what i've done. my husband was clinically depressed. when he would be off his medication, be in a depressive state, he was not an easy man to live with at that time. he was hard to please. and, yes, there was another man involved at that time and my husband knew about that.
but he didn't -- i guess he didn't really see the danger in that. here he was being so difficult to please and here was this other man who thought or at least told me that i'm just a goddess. i walk on water and everything i do is right. >> ruple believed her background in law enforcement would allow her to pull off the perfect murder. >> it happened on a saturday morning and i was arrested monday morning. it was pretty fast. i guess it was pretty obvious and i tried so desperately to convince people i was innocent. i had tried to make it look like a suicide. i mean my husband had been sue suicidal. had a history of being suicidal and so i figured that would be just the easiest way, make it look like he did it. >> how did you do it? >> oh -- >> i mean how did he die? >> i shot him.
i shot him and i shall wish i could take it back. >> she regrets the past but is moving on. >> i still face the consequences of what i did but i don't go around bowed down with that guilt anymore. yes, i'm guilty but god is forgiving me. >> ruple told us her religious conversion wasn't easy. >> we had these ladies that come in and do a little bible study. i got to say i hated them. cheery little faces knowing and telling me, everything will be all right. all right. everything will be all right. you know. you don't know what you're talking about. maybe your biggest problem you got is that you might burn the dinner or have an overdue parking ticket. you're not facing what i was facing. i was facing the death penalty at that point. i don't want to hear it so finally all right. i'll come if you just leave me alone.
you know, i don't want to hear it and don't ask me to talk. that's how i was. >> eventually ruple joined the bible study and find the connection with several of the other participants. they too killed their husbands or boyfriends. >> it helps me just knowing i got sisters i can lean on and someone i can talk to, someone i can share these things with and because in here, i mean you got to be careful who you share things with. >> coming up on "lockup: raw." >> i hate to say it but murder is a respected crime in here by a lot of these inmates. >> i just shot the man three times, right? and now the other police was still down so i shot him three times. ♪ ♪
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over the years on "lockup" we've learned two things about convicted killers, one, they can come from any part of society and, two, they assume a place of honor on the inmate hierarchy. >> your most respected inmates are men who are serving life sentences for murder and all the way down to armed robbery then murder issues, grand theft. >> you'll hear i'm not a thief, i'm a killer, i'm a murderer. >> i hate to say it but murder is a respected crime in here by a lot of these inmates and they don't bother me. >> we met gerald at anamosa state penitentiary in iowa where he was serving two life sentences for murder and attempted murder. 11 years earlier he opened fire at the factory where he worked. >> i was suffering from paranoia schizophrenia and i didn't know it at the time and my family was
trying to get me committed and i refused to go to a mental health place because i was afraid they would take away my guns because i'm a gun collector and i had a lot of guns and i knew once they found me mentally incompetent i wouldn't be able to have guns in a minute and developed to the point where i got delusional and i hallucinated and i imagined my wife had been kidnapped, raped, and tourtured and killed by these guys at work and i thought i'd take vengeance and take matters into my own hands and that's what i did. i shot two employees in the head and then i also shot two in the leg. >> his symptoms have been treated for a few years and now works in the metal shop on prison grounds. >> here you are back in a work environment and your fellow workers, do they know what your crime was? i'm just cure ow how that played out.
>> i imagine some were a little leery of me and got respect because of my crimes. >> he is not the only convicted murderer who sees fear behind the respect. when our crew arrived they were warned, the toughest inmate here might just be james t-bone taylor serving two double life sentences for murdering two police officers in 1981. >> i had a cop killer case, it made me feel like i was big man on campus because i was getting the respect but it was only out of fear, it wasn't they respect me because who i was. >> taylor was related in gang related activity on both sides of the wall since a teenager. he earned his nickname t-bone while serving time in another prison. >> because it happened in ft. madison in the '70s, it was hard to get a knife, right so i made a knife out of bone, out of t-bone steak. we used to get steaks there back in the day and i had sharpened it down and i was going to stab a guy with it and before i could stab the guy with it, they had
bust me with it and seen it in my hand so they took it and the name just stuck. guys in the penitentiary just started calling me t-bone. >> but it was taylor's desire to rise to the top of the gang hierarchy on the outside that led him to commit the cold-blooded murders for which he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. it happened at a raucous water in waterloo, iowa. when police tried to shut it down he grabbed one of the police officer's pistols. >> i shot the man three times, right. everybody broke and run and the other police, he was still down, right so i ran over there and then i shot him three times. it wasn't cause i was on no drugs or no alcohol. you know, i wasn't impaired. >> and afterwards? >> trying to get away. it wasn't no remorse or nothing when i tried -- as i did -- i wasn't even thinking about turning myself in or nothing like that, right. you know, i hid for about like
five or six days in the cornfields, right before they caught me, right. they give me a natural life sentence, you know, this charge back there. >> for the next 20 years taylor was transferred between various prisons due to his gang activity and predatory behavior. the aging inmate landed in anamosa in 2002. he chose to participate in a victim impact program. not out of remorse. he was hoping it would earn him a transfer back to his favorite prison. >> first i was going to use it to try to get back to ft. madison. you know, i won't play a game because i wanted to go back to ft. madison. >> but his participation in the program required him to meet the sister of one of the officers he murdered. >> i was scared. you know, because we be under the illusion they'll come and scream and cuss us out. i'm sitting down and i'm scared.
you know, i'm saying, i'm truly scared so first thing she asked me she said why you kill my brother. i didn't have no reason. you know, she said, well, did you kill my brother because he was a police. i said no. she said what if i killed your mother or something? we broke down. you know, we cried. you know, we cried, you know, because she said, you know, she said i hate you. she said i wish you was dead. you know. and it was hard for me because all this time i been the one that was in control and she took that control and i couldn't like attack her or nothing like that. you know what i mean. that wasn't even in my mind but i didn't have control of the situation. she took control of the situation. she asked me could i be forgaven. i said, no. she said, well, i'm going to forgive you know what i'm saying.
everything that i perceive that made me the big dog, she just took all that from me, you know what i mean. she took all that from me. she made me real humble, you know what i mean and i'm saying we hugged when she left. you know, i killed this woman's brother and people don't do that. people don't just do that. >> taylor found it hard to shrug off the emotions stirred up by the visit. >> because i was brought up that if you murder, people are going to get over it. you know i was a hardened person and i'm saying now that i see a whole different side of me, this is how it go, man. people don't forget. people don't forgive all the time. and i'm saying, you have to live with this your whole life. >> coming up -- >> we're not looking for pity. what we're looking for is an understanding we did wrong. >> t-bone's past continues to haunt him.
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james "t-bone" taylor was one of the most respected inmates among inmates at iowa's anamosa state penitentiary. not for doing good but being a two-time cop killer but when one of the victim's sister for gave him, he inspired a group called s.a.v.e., seriously acknowledging victims' emotions. >> this group is like after-care. you know, it get guys chance enough to come and sit down and find out why they have behaviors that they have. >> our cameras rolled as inmates involved in the program met with families of victims. >> our past action implied we had no regard for human life. today we know what it is feel, see hear and all the insanity and destruction and this whole
thing is about not us coming up here looking for pity because we're not looking for pity. what we're looking for is an understanding that we know we did wrong. >> well, it affects me in a sense because i know that the impact in these later years what i done and i don't do this to think i'm getting out of the penitentiary because i'm not but it give me a sense of understanding. it give me a sense of responsibility for my own actions. >> the day was especially personal for one other inmate, as well. >> i been in for nearly 20 years. a victim's mom and stepdad are here. vicki and greg, i want to thank them very much for coming. >> mark smith murdered his girlfriend jenny crompton when he was just 18 years old. through the program, he was first confronted by his victim's mother and stepfather several years earlier. >> i was a mess. jenny had been gone eight years
and i was still barely functioning. and i was full of anger and i was full of pain. and my other children were suffering. >> i had numerous recurring dreams, kind of nightmares that, you know, i had a lot of anger. i wanted to definitely take it out on him. >> the meeting lasted five hours. >> we brought with us, do you remember, some pictures of you guys when you were dating and then i also had this photograph of jenny dead on the emergency room table and i remember we kind of pulled out the nice pictures and mark was smiling and kind of talking about them and then pulled out this other picture and i know that mark, you didn't want to look at it and i was so angry i just wanted to keep shoving it in front of your face. >> i found her. i was the one the police took and shoved into a little cell for several hours. i let mark know about that. hey, you know, i was -- i didn't
do it but i was the one that they talked to. you did this to me. plus i lost jenny that day. >> it's hard. you know, every time i see these guys it's really hard because you're always thinking, i mean, it's like i did something that completely damaged them, you know, that will never go away ever for any of us. >> and i remember i said to you, i want to hear you say that you killed jenny and i realize how hard that was for you but you did it. you didn't try and act like i didn't do it or it was your fault or -- but, no, i had to know did jenny suffer and from what mark told me i believe that it was very quick. and so that has given me peace. >> when i walked out of here i was probably 80 pounds lighter, you know, and i never since that day have ever had that same recurring dream. i don't think about mark the way
i did and it was a great release. >> you guys are so great. >> while the s.a.v.e. program has helped eliminate the nightmares, it can reverse the past for the victims nor the future that's in store for these convicted killers. in iowa, first-degree murder means life without parole. on our last day at anamosa we ran into t-bone taylor as he was moving into a new cell. as he unpacked, he talked about his own mortality and the place at anamosa where someday his sentence will end. >> ain't nobody going to take my body when i do die. so, you know, my plans is already, you know, i let the institution bury me up on the hill. i didn't even have staff say they will come and tend to my grave site for me, you know. >> so that means you'll be at anamosa? >> forever.
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