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tv   Lockup Raw  MSNBC  August 9, 2015 4:00am-4:31am PDT

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all the time. >> god is good. >> all the time. >> good night, man. >> good night, bro. due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. msnbc takes you inside the the walls of america's most notorious prisons, into a world of chaos and danger. now the scenes you've never seen, "lockup: raw." >> listen up. there's to be no talking, period. one behind the other, single file line, on the wall. >> a prominent research study
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estimates 1 in 31 american adults are either incarcerated, on probation or on parole. just as interesting is the fact that many of the inmates we've met have told us they actually prefer serving out their sentences in prison to being freed on parole. >> they say it's difficult to find work and that the parole rules are so strict that they can make a simple mistake and end up back in prison where they cause more pain for their families and further tarnish their reputation. >> few inmates illustrate the problem of walking the thin line of parole better than one we met at the hillsboro county jail in tampa, florida. his name is vilester jones. >> when we first entered one of the jail's open dorm housing units we noticed a guy, somewhat intimidating, very large, working out on the yard. at the same time, one of the inmates was telling us that we needed to interview their jail's resident poet. and it actually turned out to be the same guy. >> lock them up, throw away the key. prisons are being built faster and further than the eye can see. they're being constructed to
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house you, and me and all our families. there's nothing more than modern-day slavery. lock them up, throw away the key. home of the brave, land of the free, while millions of americans locked up in the penitentiary. if you're so brave and you're so wild, why can't you relate to the juveniles. fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, children, cousins, in-law friends, wake up you sleeping fools, you're headed for the pen. then it would be too late. everyone will see that they have safely locked us up and threw away the key. >> thanks, guys. >> even though jones was popular among other inmates and had spent time in prison, he struggled with some aspects of life in the dormitory-style housing unit he shared with 71 other men. >> i never really liked open bay
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dorms. i'm a person that likes cleanliness. a lot of people when they sneeze or cough don't cover up. you know, sometimes i can be sitting there eating and somebody just starts sneezing and sneezing and not covering their mouth. automatically i try to cover my food. i'm saying, dang, what's wrong with these people, you know? i'm probably a little crazy. oh, father, yahweh, please save me and deliver me -- >> as adverse as he was to germs, jones was enthusiastic to his spirituality. >> hallelujah, hallelujah. >> his nightly prayers could last up to 15 minutes. >> please set me free, please let me free, please let me see. >> we would come to learn why jones' prayers to be set free were especially pertinent. but first we learned what brought him here. the story began 40 years earlier, when jones joined a chicago street gang at age 13. >> we used to rob other children of their lunch money. milk money and stuff. then we would -- i got introduced to drugs. i was drunk all the time. i didn't know how to stay sober. >> as jones grew older, his addictions to crack and alcohol
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grew more ferocious. and so did the robberies he committed to support them. he had been in and out of several jails and prisons, but at age 35, he was sentenced to 25 years for multiple counts of armed robbery. but prison didn't stop his taste for alcohol. he used to make hooch or illegal inmate-made wine from a mixture of rotting fruit, sugar, and bread. >> i used to get drunk, and i used to start fights. one day they sent me to confinement, to the hole for extortion. a guy said i was -- he owed me money for wine he bought and i jumped on him for not paying. and when i was in confinement, like my high power who i call god, revealed hisself to me and
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said it's time to get yourself right. i stayed in that confinement cell for 90 days. then they transferred me to another prison. when i got to the other prison i started making n.a. and a.a. meetings. i starting going to church, reading the bible and studying. >> jones served 18 years of a 25-year sentence at a florida state prison before he was released on parole. he moved into the noah house, a residential substance abuse program in tampa. >> they help ex-offenders get a fresh start in life. they help you to stay straight. you know, i wanted to stay straight. i didn't want to go back to prison. i always, you know, participated, and so they finally gave me a job. my job title is peer advocate. and i basically help ex-offenders. >> jones was doing well. he says he would ride his bicycle to various other halfway houses to recruit participants for programs at noah house. but eight months into his parole, things went horribly wrong one day when he decided to take a short cut home through a large hole in a fence. >> i didn't know that that was a crime to cross over the railroad tracks because the whole neighborhood goes through that
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way, back and forth, back and forth. children go to school back and forth from school that way. i see grown folks going through that way all the time. >> a police officer saw jones cut through the hole and cited him. when he discovered jones was on parole, he arrested him. >> out of all these years that i was on drugs, i was finally clean, doing good, and all of a sudden, bam, back in jail. it's like i hurt my mama again, you know. >> the trespassing charges were quickly dropped, but because jones was on parole at the time of his arrest he would have to be detained in jail until the parole commission completed its own investigation. we joined him on the morning of his hearing. >> on the day that he was going to his hearing he was very nervous and rightfully so because he was going to find out
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whether he was going to go back to prison for a few years or go back on the street. >> mr. jones, you can come on in. >> at the hearing jones would again be confronted by his arresting officer who said his trespassing violation might not be as minor as it seems. >> a majority of the people that commit the larger crimes are committing the smaller crimes. and if you take those individuals that are committing the smaller crimes, and you put them in jail for those, they're not out to commit the bigger ones. his charges were armed robbery multiple times. what's the old saying, if you do the crime, you've got to do the time. >> but jones had his supporters at the hearing, as well. including lolita brown. his supervisor at the noah house. >> we need him to be back at work, working and doing his groups. >> mr. jones, it states you violated condition 7 by failing to obey all laws, ordinances or statutory conditions of conditional release. and at this time we're going to take testimony from officer fricks. >> i was on the west side of the
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railroad tracks. i saw the defendant ride his bike towards the tracks. he entered through a hole in a six-foot chain link fence that was put up to keep people off the property. and he was stopped on the west side. >> when you came in contact with him, was he cooperative with you? >> yes. >> after a few more questions, the parole examiner asked jones' probation officer to weigh in. >> given that this charge is dismissed i would recommend reinstatement. and being convicted of the charge, i would have recommended return to prison. >> mr. jones, is there anything you want to add. >> god know they need me back there working. i really want to be there to help them fulfill the goals of the job. i want to go back to that position and really help make a difference in the lives of people that's just getting out of jail and prison. >> anything else? >> no, ma'am. >> finally, it was time for the parole examiner to determine jones' fate.
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don't deal with disruptions. get better internet installed on your schedule. comcast business. built for business. vilester jones is the first to admit he's wasted a significant portion of his life on gangs, crimes, drugs and alcohol. he was once sentenced to 25 years in prison, and it was during that time that he said he changed his life by getting involved in alcoholics and narcotics anonymous. >> i started going to n.a., a.a. meetings in prison and started going to church. i stayed to myself. if you wasn't spiritual, talking
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about something positive, i just didn't want to be bothered with you. >> jones was eventually paroled and found a place to live and work at the noah house, a residential drug treatment program in tampa, florida. one day he took a shortcut on his way home from work in a hole in a fence he was arrested and sent back to jail for trespassing. >> when they handcuffed me, as soon as they put them handcuffs on me, i cannot lie, you know, much as i been through, i didn't think i'd do but tears start coming to my eyes. >> even though the charges were dropped, jones still faced the possibility of returning to prison. if the parole board determined that his arrest and admission that he did, in fact, take the short cut, violated the conditions of his parole. jones expected to learn his fate after a hearing with the parole examiner. >> so regarding my finding in this hearing i'm going to defer them for a period of ten days in an effort to look everything over. i'm going to make a
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recommendation after i come up with my decision. i'm not going to recommend anything today. >> the delay in his ruling meant jones would have to remain in jail until the board could reach a decision. >> come on, sir. >> i don't sleep tonight. i'll probably toss and turn. feel a little more unsure than i did at first. i just got to really have faith in my friends right now. got to have faith in the prayers. oh, man. >> the final decision on jones came during a break in our shooting. when we returned to tampa, there was a new inmate in jones' bunk and jones himself was back at the noah house, a free man, but very much aware that he was still on parole and one slip away from going back to prison. >> when the people told me that i would be getting out that day, i was so full of joy i wanted to scream but i had to hold my composure, you know. i even wanted to ask her out to dinner.
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i thought, oh, she might take that the wrong way. >> since his release, jones has been enjoying the simple pleasures of freedom. like getting to choose his own clothes. >> i like to match my clothes. whatever shirt i got i like my shoes that same color. i had these shoes first to go with a shirt that i had and it was these shoes that made me go out and pick the color suit that i got. ain't that something? >> jones is not taking his second chance at freedom for granted. he gives himself a daily reminder of the shortcut that almost sent him back to prison. >> i purposely ride my bike that way not to go through it, i go around the long way. but even going around the long way i can see that place. and it's still open. there's still a big old hole in the fence there. people going in and out of it. i said, well, they don't never have to worry about me doing it no more. you know, i just know now i can't do what everybody else
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does. this last episode on the trespassing really gave me an eye opener in a greater way, that i got to watch every little thing. it's the little things that can lead to a big thing like going back to prison. coming up. >> watch your back, bitch, because the dagger is coming. >> a housing unit where the drama runs high. >> it gets overwhelming that when you leave the mod, it's draining like wow we need to take a break.
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>> we will not negotiate with terrorists. >> but at the orange county jail, we discovered an entire housing unit where low profile seemed in short supply. its official name was mod q, but others prefer to call it the drama mod. >> that's my [ bleep ] right there. that's my [ bleep ] right there. >> come here and show your [ bleep ]. >> yeah. >> this specific sector here houses protective custody inmates that are homosexuals, and they have to be separated from the jail population for various reasons. i love you. >> it's mainly to protect them from the rest of the population. >> mod q is different because you did find men dressed as women or men with breast implants that look like women. it was loud, girly screams.
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>> the drama, it's exactly what you could expect of young people who have no solutions to their problems. basically run around like nuts. >> there's a lot of drama in mod q. there's fighting and there's flirting and there's yelling. it gets overwhelming where when you leave the mod it's just like draining. like wow, we need to take a little break for a little while and just process that. >> transgender inmate alejandro cortez who calls himself alexis not only wanted attention from other inmates but our field team as well. i just got hit on by a bunch of men. >> men? >> i mean women men -- women -- it was -- it was quite something. >> what number cell?
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>> 7. >> 7? >> 7. >> what did she say? >> she said i had very sexy legs. >> sexy legs. she told me to keep being sexy. >> cortez, who is in jail on a parole violation told us about his struggles in choosing to live as a woman. >> anyway, we were -- i can't say i feel like a woman. it's hard to explain. i feel like i'm a homosexual, i'm a man, but i prefer living as a woman. i'm mostly attracted to men. i don't want to live my life as a man. i want to live my life as a woman. it's hard. it's really hard. first i had to make it through my family and then society, you know. it's very hard, you know, because of the criticism and everything, but once i put it in
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my mind i'm going to live my life for who i am, my family, and who accepts me, criticism is always going to be out there and sometimes i feel like i'm the brave one because i have the guts to be who i am. i live my life and i live how i am but it's really, really hard. >> do you want me to make a -- i need a reason to be. >> she's a big girl. >> girl. size 20, honey. >> mod q was also known for its hospitality. charles barber, who was in on multiple charges of fraud and grand theft to what he had pled not guilty offered us one of his come sear commissary snacks. >> this is top ramen. >> it consists of cheetos, and gorditas. >> you eat this, and this is what you get. >> no. i'm the opposite. i lost like 100 pounds. >> don't you want some? >> think about the scale.
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you're 200 what? >> i'm 279. >> and still growing. >> and they told me to lose some weight, but i don't care. >> in mod q the relations are absolutely different than from other mods because in other mods you've got this high-intensity game politicking atmosphere going on and mod q where it's mostly homosexual protective custody inmate, there's none of that politics going on. it's more like love triangles going on. >> are you going to leave this girl? >> no, no. >> bitch, we are close. we are sisters. we're sisters. i married him, though, girls. >> big-time drama mod. >> but it seemed nobody drew more attention in mod q than marcus cash. just 21 years old, cash was already on his eighth trip to the o.c. jail, this time on a conviction for possession of stolen credit cards. he was better known for the nickname he shared with the unit itself. >> i love the drama. i'm drama.
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the deputies call me drama in here. i'm drama. shut up. you're a stupid bitch. you know me, bitch. you know me, girl. >> marcus is probably our most flamboyant inmate. every time he comes out of the cell, it's almost a show. he exaggerates his movements and his speech quite a bit, so that draws a lot of attention to him. >> it's the kind of attention that cash's cell mate mario said he could do without. >> she's a good person, but sometimes she does draw a lot of attention to herself and she can be kind of noisy and drive me nuts, but some people try to give her drama, throw things at her window and yell and knock on the door and stuff like that. >> they hit on me. >> watch your back, bitch, because the dagger's coming. you know me. >> when the drama got too high for cash himself, he would often turn to barbaro for support.
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>> i'm more of an older sister or brother to her. she's young, so i try to, you know, give her advice. >> it's a lot of drama. it's a lot of drama. >> but occasionally the drama would bring a chuckle or two to the one member of our field team who couldn't help but hear every bit of it. >> i'm taking one day at a time. you've been in enough drug rehabs already to know that you take it one day at a time. and with you, patience is a virtue. we can't see each other. >> it reminds me of high school. [ bleep ] >> mod q was off the hook. >> bitch. >> by the time we would leave, you would just be drained emotionally.
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