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tv   Lockup  MSNBC  January 29, 2016 9:00pm-10:01pm PST

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>> religious freedom behind bars is a hot topic for prison matter, viewer discretion is there are 2 million people behind bars in america. we open the gates. "lockup." >> this place is infested with child molesters, rapists and murderers. >> you happen to be in the most
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beautiful place in the world, as a matter of fact, this place should be a resort instead of a prison. >> you are surrounded, you know. you're trapped in more than one way. >> i'm training myself always physically and psychologically to be able to combat these officers. >> if a guy comes up all belligerent, that's what he's going to get back. if he wants to dance we'll dance. >> you think you're a bad ass? >> not at all. >> don't cop attitude. >> i'm not copping attitude. >> it's supposed to be a no-no but it happens. >> i want a guy that wants me to be feminine and all the things that he should want and get if he's with a woman. >> this is cell 13 downstairs. >> i read about that. i killed mommy and i'm getting out in 20 years, blah, blah, blah. >> i pulled up the sheet and wrapped it around his head and said, say hi to mommy. >> when people think of alaska, they often picture a place of extraordinary beauty. a vast expanse of wilderness considered to be the last
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frontier. for many this comes with a price -- the loss of freedom. in the next hour of "lockup," we go inside spring creek, alaska's only maximum security prison. a little more than 100 miles south of anchorage is seward, one of alaska's oldest towns. it is surrounded by water and the majestic surroundings. in the middle of the scenic beauty is a correctional facility that houses the most violent offenders. >> i'm a pimp on the street. you know what i'm saying? me and my girl, she didn't come back with the money on time so, you know, she got smashed. >> i was robbing a hotel in alaska and ended up getting in a fight with two people and hitting one of them with a hammer, a lot. >> they were like, what's going on, why are you killing me? i didn't say nothing to them or talk about it to them, i just
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did it, you know. and threw them into the bay. >> 500 inmates are housed on 328 acres of land which is surrounded by national park. alaska is the nation's largest state but it has the smallest prison population. >> alaska is a state that people have immigrated from all over the country and criminals don't change their ways when they move. they're still criminals. they just go to another state and do time in that prison system. >> outside society is big on giving people a second chance. my philosophy is when they reach spring creek they've had their chances and now they will toe the line. >> craig turnbull has been superintendent of spring creek for five years. >> they think they can come to alaska and hide out in the wilderness and never be seen again. they find that's very hard to do. we are surrounded by ice fields. we're surrounded by the gulf of alaska, one road in and out.
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and although beautiful, very challenging terrain. >> at spring creek correctional center there's only been one successful escape. it was hard to see because they had sheets over them when they went through the fences. they blended in with the snow that was out there. we apprehended them and brought them back really quickly. it probably wasn't the best time for the escape. because of the cold that we have here in seward in wintertime. >> in the winter, the only relief from the gray skies is the color provided by the inmates' uniform, yellow, for those who pose little threat to other prisoners and staff. and then there are those inmates whose uniforms are red. >> he needs to be separated from the other prisoners. he will go directly from here to house one once he's processed.
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>> house one is also known as administrative segregation, where inmates are locked in their cells 23 hours a day. >> all the worst management problems in the entire state system, they end up here. this is the end of the road for them. >> i was originally charged with contract murder and drug trafficking and gun charges. i joke about it sometimes and say the only thing they didn't get me for was sex offenses. >> even though spring creek houses the worst and most disturbed offenders in the state, outbreaks of violence in the prison are surprisingly rare. >> we have assaults but they're not as many as like the lower 48. you know, we have the same mindset and same type of criminals. here they'll work up and talk to you and we'll deal with issues and problems and we help them out as much as we can. >> prescott. >> yeah.
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>> do you have any more questions about transferring out tomorrow? >> no. >> i'm way outnumbered but i have a radio and, you know, i have good people working with me. you know, everybody here looks out for everybody else. >> for officer ed massey who came to spring creek from the military, diligence is rule one. >> i'm watching the inmates, i'm looking for what you'd call body language, posturing. if there's a problem, they will posture. if you're watching you can head off stuff before it starts. >> that's the one i was looking at. i think he's all right. he's just messing around, probably. >> you're always making sure that you have an escape route if you need one. if that's locking myself in a cell or whatever. >> spring creek enforces a zero tolerance policy for inmate infractions. >> our department use of force policy is called p-a-i-d, p.a.i.d. it's passive aggressive,
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intermediate and deadly. we always try to start with passive. you talk to a prisoner, show a presence of staff. hopefully that will talk him down. >> on this day, an argument in the lunch line has led to a full-blown fight between two inmates. officers place them under arrest. >> you need to respond to me so i know you're all right. >> let's go a little bit more. >> we have had trouble with him before. he just came out of our unit in house one. >> john is serving a six-year sentence for sexual assault. his adversary, joel brooks, is doing 12 years for assault. both prisoners are classified as mentally ill. after being cleaned up, they're questioned separately by officers. >> what was this all about? >> he's a rapist and i was talking with an inmate in the meal line about it with him. >> you were talking about his crime with another prison? >> yeah, yeah.
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>> okay. >> i was talking with another prison about him being a rapist. he came up to me and said, you ain't [ muted ] and i said, you're not. >> i repeated it and said what are you going to do? i repeated it again, stop talking about me. and then he walked up to me in my face and said, now what are you going to do? >> five minutes later he bum rushed me. >> don't come at me. >> slammed me against the wall. >> i don't know what i did after that. >> he started scratching my face and i grabbed him around the waist and threw him on the floor. i hit him twice in self-defense to get him to let go of my neck. >> i won't deny it. >> lower body over there, anymore marks. >> the bottom line is he hit me first. that's what it comes down to. >> i think the bottom line is you were talking about somebody else. >> so what. >> how about he starts talking about you.
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>> does that give him the right to hit me first? i didn't think so. >> well -- >> don't move. >> whoa, whoa. >> what, you think you're a bad ass? >> no, not at all. >> don't cop an attitude. >> i'm not. i'm not coming an attitude. >> [ muted ] punk. >> i'm sorry, what? >> you heard me. >> no, i didn't. >> you better. >> it depends on the individual. if the guy comes up here belligerent that's what he'll get back. if he wants to dance, we'll dance. doesn't matter. >> this one here? >> yes. >> you got it. >> after a hearing, the disciplinary sergeant ruled that slaykew was provoked by the brook's repeated taunts. while slaykew wasn't punished, brooks got 30 days in solitary confinement. >> most of these people are hardened criminals, a lot of them are lifers that don't get out. and people spend years in the hole just for fighting. one moment of anger is a lifetime of misery. because prison will always stick
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with you. up next -- >> he got in a fight with a prisoner, he bit his finger off. >> i didn't get his eye ball. technical difficulties. i was trying, though, i gave it the old college try. >> the one thing that's predictable about mr. bright is that he's unpredictable. and later, a look inside the mind of spring creek's most notorious prisoner. >> caved his head in, the biggest fragment of bone they found was about the size of a half dollar. woah! father, why can't we have directv like the macgregors do? we're settlers, son. we settle for things. like having cable instead of directv. hey, jebediah, how's it going? working the land. hoping for a fertile spring. all right. so we have to live with lower customer satisfaction? i'm afraid so. now go churn us some butter, boy, and then make your own clothes. yes, sir. (vo) don't be a settler. get rid of cable and upgrade to directv.
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the most violent inmates at spring creek correctional center in alaska live in a unit called house one. >> if somebody violates the rule, then they go to segregation for punitive. not many people want to spend a lot of time in punitive. >> this is probably the most
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difficult prison to control are in this mod. you see why. very little things set them off sometimes. >> setting off the smoke alarm. >> basically, bravo mod is a little less violent, a little less secure, then you get into alpha and delta, where they're given more -- more benefits, a little more freedom, in an effort to get them adjusted so they can go back into general population and be just regular prisoners. >> i like dealing with these guys. i think i have a good rapport with them. they work really well. they respond to me for whatever reason. >> you have a good lawyer? >> this is a place where you can actually see something happen. if you work with a guy and you get him to be a little bit better adjusted so he can get to general population, that's really good. >> despite these successes, officers have to take extreme precautions.
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inmates are handcuffed and wear leg restraints whenever they are escorted to the yard or showers. >> so we cuff them behind the back, six inches. put the leg restraints on them. then open the door and bring them out. so we're working in pairs a lot. this is a really tight teamwork. making sure we have each other's back. and we maintain the tactical advantage at all times. basically dominate our tactical environment. >> frustration over being locked down 23 hours a day causes many inmates in solitary to act out. >> they start screaming. it can be pretty hectic in here. there's been times i've seen this entire floor out here covered with three, four inches of water. people popping sprinklers. trashed, literally, this entire floor in here. >> this is what they call cell warriors. they're behind the doors so no one can get at each other. they try to stir each other up.
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>> -- raped on the yard ten years ago! how about that! let's deal with the facts! let's deal with facts! you are a jailhouse punk! >> you've got to get out of the lockdown in there. it can get stuffy in there. a lot of words are said back and forth between inmates you know. so you come out here, work out, take out your stress and anger. >> bradley tucker is in solitary for fighting and carrying a homemade weapon called a shank. >> being in this cage makes me feel like an animal, you know what i mean? pretty horrible, you know. but you know you've got to deal with it. >> one and one. >> while many inmates in house one try to transition back into general population, there are a few whose time in solitary is indefinite. john bright is serving a 99-year term for murder. >> this is one of my doodles. i'm always doodling for something to do.
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>> i thought that organized crime was cool. i thought drug dealers were cool. i watched -- what's the name of the movie -- "scarface" 20 times. >> sergeant gary elde, a 20-year veteran of the facility, knows bright very well. >> i've known him for about 16, 17 years. from dealing with him when he first came to the facility. at this point in time he is one of our extreme management problems. >> this is me when i was 20 years old. i don't have my photo album now because i'm being punished for being defiant. i'm being treated like this for fighting. fist fighting. >> who are you fighting? >> bullies. troublemakers. predators. dudes that go and pick on everybody else. i don't go say, hey, i'm looking for somebody to get in a fight with. this guy looks like a good candidate. >> but he doesn't play well with others. and so he's -- stays here. >> i've been in a fight in bravo mod.
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i've been in a fight in charlie mod. i've been in a fight in delta mod. i've been in a fight on the rec yard. >> it very seldom has anything to do with staff but it's other prisoners. >> you know how it is in prison, a guy talks smack, you've got to hit him. >> got in a fight with a prisoner, bit his finger off. >> i didn't get his eye ball. technical difficulties. i was trying though. i was giving it the old college try. >> the one thing that's predictable about mr. bright is he's unpredictable. >> sergeant kept putting bullies in my cell. one of them eventually wasn't trying to get along. so i knocked his teeth out. >> he came into the housing unit and it escalated from that point. >> i'm in the hole. i'm getting antagonized by low self-esteem, protective custody inmates. they dance around like the three little pigs singing "who's afraid of the big bad wolf" song. >> in early 2006 bright went on another rampage and tore up his cell. the tantrum was so violent he almost lost a finger. >> i've tried to quit. and the inmates and the staff won't let me.
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they will not -- i've tried to lay down and be a punk. and it makes me despise myself. >> he started recently this conspiracy theory that everybody's out to get him. and he believes in those no matter what we try to do. explaining to him that it's not the case. >> but the bottom line is he's dangerous. extremely dangerous. and he's earned his place here. >> all i know is, is that i personally irritate certain people. and nobody is scared of me. nobody. the littlest guy here is not scared of me. i don't intimidate anybody. i'm like a gummy bear, a marshmallow. i'm a combat marshmallow but i'm a marshmallow. coming up -- a violent confrontation between officers and an inmate. ibs-d. you know the symptoms when they start. abdominal pain. urgent diarrhea. now there's prescription xifaxan.
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and warmth and looking good, and sandwich and soup and inside jokes, and dan is back! good, clean food pairs well with anything. the clean pairings menu. 500 calories or less. at panera. food as it should be. the spring creek correctional center is surrounded by natural beauty. but there's no mistaking this is a prison. >> we have our fences. we have our security systems within the fences. and outside the fences. we have our towers and vehicles, our armed posts, our surveillance cameras. and in this beautiful setting, we do very serious work. >> hey mac, we've got one coming down with officer mckennan. >> we're very strict about it. our safety and the lower violence rate reflects on the
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culture of the facility. but also reflects on how we've managed the facility. >> yet, there are inmates who push the boundaries of prison behavior. >> you are about to engage in the use of nondeadly force with prisoner antonio roberson. >> antonio roberson is serving a 60-year sentence for murder. >> he refused repeated direct orders from staff. >> all use of force incidents that can be preplanned are videotaped. that keeps the prisoner from suing us. and it keeps staff from using excessive force. because the staff all know they're being taped. >> first the medical record has been checked by medical staff. members are corrigan, to determine feasibility and that's been approved.
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>> the tactical team will be wearing coveralls, shin guards, stab-proof vests, helmets and gas masks. we also have the electronic immobilizing device, otherwise called a stun gun and we also have an eid shield. >> i'm always training myself. physically, psychologically, to be on guard, to be ready to combat these officers or prisoners, whatever might come my way. and i can do it. >> the extraction team sprays pepper spray into the cell and waits. >> they'll give the prisoner an order to comply. if the prisoner complies, then he'll be removed from the cell and whatever they need to do, they will do. >> but roberson doesn't comply. after two applications of pepper spray, the officers move in.
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>> after a prisoner is sprayed with o.c., we're obligated to take him over and wash him off with cold water. and then he'll be strip searched and moved to a different cell. he stays there two hours. >> are you going to be here forever? >> you can be least proud -- >> they're the ones that say stuff. i'm not going to let nobody beat you up. that's what most anybody in here do. this is -- this is a war zone. >> antonio roberson is not the only inmate to get into an altercation with staff. michael edmonds is serving a six-year sentence for armed robbery. he was sent to administrative segregation for striking an officer. >> i had used vulgar language
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and he had locked me down. and i really wasn't happy about it. i told him i was going to smack him. so i went to sleep, woke back up, he was there. got out of my cell, just went over and smacked him. it's different when you can't do nothing, being by yourself. so you got to [ muted ] where you sleep. what do you think? it's no good. it's all bad. >> good morning. how we doing today? >> fine. >> edmunds meets with prison officials to see if he can transition back into general population. >> today's date is 4/14/06 and this is an initial classification for prisoner michael edmonds. >> the proceedings are taped and retained as an official record. >> you have four months out of 68 for 6% of your time served. involvement with alcohol and drugs is scored as never. no referral for mental health. under disciplinary you have two majors. you have a b-8 and a b-2.
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>> these hearings are held on a point system. behavior within spring creek and the total amount of time served, determine the outcome. >> my recommendation is that you will remain maxed. but we'd also like to get you some educational materials and stuff over here. and if you can give me a period of time without any disciplinaries or problems in here, i will ask for a special classification to get you reduced to close so i can get you out into general pop. >> people when they first come into prison and you're cooking, whatever, it's not unusual for people to have some trouble. but you get overere and you show us that you can do this without any more problems, we'll work to get you out in general population. >> edmunds is given an indefinite stay in the hole. but staff feel he is responsive to methods that will help him get back in general population. >> it's not what i expected but it's how it goes. i'll be here for a little while longer.
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by myself. at least i'm off punitive. i'll get some stuff. it ain't going to break me. coming up -- >> they put a cellie in with me. he's doing life for homicide. for killing his mom. which is disgusting. fact. when emergency room doctors choose an otc pain reliever for their patients muscle, back and joint pain. the medicine in advil is their #1 choice. nothing is stronger on tough pain than advil. relief doesn't get any better than this. advil. our cosmetics line was a hit. the orders were rushing in.
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due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. alaska's department of corrections is the largest provider of mental health care services in the state. at spring creek correctional center, all officers receive some training in working with the mentally ill. a mandate since the behavior of many of these inmates can be so unpredictable. one prisoner's actions even led to the death of his cellmate. we warn you, the details of his crimes are graphic. >> what's difficult for me is when you remember what some of these guys have done, and you think, i've just treated that person civilly. why would i want to do that? it's a little hard to think about that sometimes. they're still people. they still deserve to be treated with respect. >> located in a corner of the sprawling correctional complex is an isolated mod which houses a special segment of the inmate
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population. >> this mod's called echo mod. it's the mod that's designated for chronically mentally ill people for the most part. >> mental health clinician george stone is an integral member of the echo mod staff. >> you have people that are pretty disturbed. and people that are normal or next to normal. as a way of mixing it up, we find that the prisoners can help each other that way. >> i like it here because it's way quieter. i have an anxiety problem. there's less of that in here. there's really no threats in here. >> ernest rogers has bipolar disorder. he's serve an 85-year sentence for robbery and attempted murder. >> i just lost it. i wasn't on my meds or nothing. the judge said due to my mental illness, you know, he said although i didn't kill anybody, i -- it wasn't from the lack of effort. >> despite the violence of their
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crimes, stone insists on treating all of the inmates in echo mod with respect. >> i've worked with mentally ill people for the last 35 years and i've never been injured, never been attacked. so i'm just comfortable with it. >> but even the most vigilant staff cannot prevent violence from erupting. >> there's only been one murder in this prison. it's been in this mod. it was in cell 13 downstairs. a guy strangled a guy to death. >> on august 22nd, 2004, carl ables earned the infamous distinction of being the only spring creek inmate to kill another prisoner. >> put a cellie in with me, the guy was doing life, in for homicide for killing his mom. which is disgusting. but this mental illness thing. he got 39 years suspended and eligible for parole in 20 years. he's bragging about that, i killed mommy, and i'm getting out in 20 years. blah, blah, blah.
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i stand and listen to this garbage, and i have to listen to garbage, and i can't tell him. so i tore the sheet and i wrapped it around his head and i said, you ain't doing nothing. you go say hi to mommy. >> the murder earned carl 99 years on top of his 77 years he was already serving for killing of a co-worker and animal cruelty. >> i caved his head in. caved it in totally. the biggest fragment of bone they found was the size of a half dollar. then i -- i probably got a little out of hand later on. i kept on hanging out. beating on him some more. i was interested in how the decomposition would be. it was pretty interesting. but it was kind of twisted. three days later i nuked the cat. stuck him in the microwave and
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turned it on. and then i -- yeah. 2 1/2 minutes wasn't long enough. >> while the violent nature of prisoners like carl ables can pose a challenge to rehabilitation, one way that spring creek tries to help inmates reform is through mediation sessions. >> i want to welcome all of you here today. it's taken a long time, i know that. janice, kordell, you wanted to do this for many years. >> inmates like kordell boyd are given the opportunity to meet face to face with the families of their victims. >> i sent a letter to one of the victims of the family. and one of the daughters received it. so they came down here. and we mad a mediation. i talked to her, she talked to me. >> so many times that what you say, and if i cry it's okay. but i have relived this a billion times. whether i like it or not you've been a part of my life for 15 years. >> at the beginning i didn't feel i was privileged to even
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talk to people. i killed their family members? come on. but god stored something in my heart. and i felt like i have to. and just to show that i'm a human being and i didn't intend to kill no one. >> was mother trying -- >> she was praying. she said something that's scripture. she says, they know not -- forgive them, they know not what they do. >> did they ever try to tell you you were going to ruin your life and gave you money? >> no. your father offered me a job. >> it hurts until you let it out. >> why did you decide to kill them? >> i didn't want to be caught. i was scared that everyone was going to find out who i really was. >> i'm ashamed of what i done. i try to keep it as close to my chest as possible. >> why? >> because it's mine.
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something shameful. it won't go away. >> the only thing that really helps is god. i never would have found him on the street. i would have been dead a long time ago. i came in here to change my life. i mean, i don't want to be a murderer. i can't change it. i want it to change me. that's happening right now. i educated myself. i'm spiritually inclined. i understand the word of god real well. i have been born again. i pray every night for your parents. i pray every night for you. and i think that's the most -- the most important thing to me at this time is that you hate me. >> well, you can't say it if
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you're going to be well. hate kills you. you killed my family. i'm not going to let it kill me. and that's what i tell the kids. you can get better or bitter. and bitter will kill you. >> it was moving. it was touching. it gave me satisfaction that she understand i was no madman. i was a misguided individual. and not saying i wanted something tragic to happen in my life to get here at this point. but there are people who didn't die in vain. because i been blessed. without them, i wouldn't have been nothing. coming up -- >> i've had three of the smartest students i've ever had while in this program. all three basically in for life because they were all three in for murder. every day you read headlines about businesses
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among the 500 inmates serving time at spring creek correctional center, 17 are under the age of 22. these prisoners are automatically placed in the youth offender program. >> we have high school, vocational skills, job skills. there's drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. what we're trying to do is catch these kids when they're young and turn them around. >> because of the young ages, these inmates are considered more vulnerable to attack. they are, therefore, housed apart from the general population. >> they call it the upper mod, which is really the youth offenders' program. they kind of see us as being the smallest group inside the prison. as far as you have regular inmates and you have us and they give us our own rec time and all that so we don't have to worry about fighting everybody for a chance to do something i guess. >> the youth offender program, you've got opportunities that you don't have on the outside. >> branden ling was 16 when he was convicted of killing a
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13-year-old girl. he's been at spring creek for 3 1/2 years. >> they sentenced me to 99. and i kind of was like trembling the whole time when the jury was coming back for the verdict. it wasn't what i was expecting. now, i can't say that i'm perfect. but i'm not some kind of monster that they're trying to portray me as. and is hurtful, you know. >> lockdown. it's count time. >> the thought of spending the rest of my life in jail or at least being 40-something before i have a chance at parole, it's pretty depressing but there's nothing i can do about it right now. >> for branden ling, the educational opportunities offered at spring creek give him the hope that he can turn his life around. >> you've got school classes. you've got other classes you can take. like first aid classes. some college courses. and you have teachers that help you, you know.
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okay, i think you would go ahead and do division. try that and see if that doesn't work. >> while the majority of prisons in the united states offer educational programs for their inmates, spring creek is the country's only maximum security facility to run a fully accredited high school withi its walls. >> the program is designed for youthful offenders convicted of a felony offense. they can be in age from 16 to 22 right now. >> wayne young has been the principal of the school for the past five years. >> we have the same curriculum that any regular high school would have. we have three teachers. they're all highly qualified to teach in their content subject areas. we have basically english, math, social studies and science as our core areas. then we try and bring in as many electives as possible. >> if you pass the high school qualifying, we might want to put you into an independent math or english. so we can get you graduated and
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out of here faster. >> the challenge here is you have to look beyond the reason they are here and address the needs that got them here. okay? so we're talking about socialization skills. basic academics. >> just the shape first. don't try to get all the detail of it first. one hand's going to be your model. one hand is going to be your model. that's your hand you're drawing. >> i've got to draw my hand? >> yes, you're drawing your hand. >> like anything with teaching. some days it's the best job in the world. some days you want to go home and jump off a cliff. >> this is my 40th year in education and i've had three of the smartest students i've ever while in this program. all three with iqs over 140. and all three basically in for life because they were all three in for murder. >> but youthful offenders are not the only ones with educational opportunities at spring creek. some long-time prisoners are
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also given the chance to develop marketable skills. >> for adult prisoners, we have the alaska corrections industries which is the furniture shop where they learn the skills of woodworking. but they really learn the skills of going to work every day, giving a full day's job. >> some of these guys are the highest-paid guys in the institution. we start off at 85 cents an hour and it goes from there. >> greg houck has supervised the alaska correctional industries furniture shop for the last five years. >> we sell to private sinesses, oil fields, related industries. close to $500,000 a year for the sales. since i've been here, for five years. how long before you have all this cut, sewed up? >> by 10:00 tomorrow morning, cut up, sewed up. probably about another three hours. >> it's one of the most productive jobs here. one of the only places you can make something and somebody else assigns a dollar value to it.
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so you have bragging rights. so to speak. >> you have to have work. you have to have a purpose. and sometimes here they lose that purpose. particularly the ones that have, you know, the life sentences. >> the spring hill hobby shop offers additional opportunities for eligible prisoners to learn skills and work on personal projects. >> those model ships that are sailing ships, i think i've built like ten of those. those things take anywhere from a year to a year and a half to build. but they're a lot of fun. >> i make jewelry. and it gives me substantive income as well, which helps out. gets you by. so you can drink coffee and eat ice cream. >> you have to have a job. you have to be write-up free for six months. there's a criteria to get in here. >> serving a 99-year sentence for first degree murder, patrick
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harrington spends his days working on a very special project. >> 2 1/2 years ago i called my younger brother and asked him, hey, can i make your daughter a doll house? he says, sure. so i've been working on this doll house for about two years now. like the windows here, they all work, up and down. all the doors open and close. all the lights work. this door up here. it's pull-down stairs. so like a little doll can come up around the top. this is real brick. 900 individual bricks. it's a lot of work. it's a lot of fun. my brother has another daughter that's a year and a half. so will i have to make another doll house for the other daughter? maybe. if i do, yeah, i'll do it. coming up -- >> i like guys that like girls. so that may seem like an odd
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the x1 voice remote is here. here i want to roll over and grab hold of a shank every morning. i have to think about that. >> a lot of the prisoners here that have done time in other places do not want to make this prison like those prisons. >> we don't even have a gang population. you have a few guys that may try and start something but usually they're segregated out of population rather fast and transferred out away from the kids they're trying to organize in the first place. >> don "cowboy" stump is serving a 99-year term for murder. he was first incarcerated at spring creek on the day it opened. >> won't be long before they set up the picnic tables. there will be picnic tables out here, along the walkways on the
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tracks. >> he believes that the natural setting has a lot to do with the lack of violence in the prison. >> you happen to be in the most beautiful place in the world, as a matter of fact, this place should be a resort instead of a prison. you know, the setting. if you look around. you don't really get uptight. >> prison officials also point to the unique racial makeup of the inmate population as a major contributor to the atmosphere at spring creek. >> i think that we represent the population of alaska. alaska as a whole is a tolerant state. i think we pride ourselves here in alaska as being individuals. respecting each other's differences. >> doesn't matter if you're black, white, mexican, asian, whatever the hell you are, okay? you're doing your time and you do it until you're eligible for parole and then you go up and take your chances. you know, and i like it like that. life's still worth something in alaska. and i like that too. >> among the inmates at spring creek, 156 are native americans.
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>> we have a lot of native prisoners. native prisoners as a rule are not aggressive people. >> we're both eskimos. only a very, very few people in here knows i can fight. i prefer to keep that it way. on a real low level. because i just want to get over and done with my time. and get back out. >> the natives here is like the buffer of the whites and the blacks. and the blacks was raised in alaska. being rubbed off by the meek and modest natives, the quiet natives. >> tolerance within the prison population extends to other groups as well. >> a high percentage of child molesters and sex offenders. in most states those people have to be segregated or they're basically attacked by people that can't stand them. we're forced to accept them. because we do -- if we don't,
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you can get in a fist fight. in alaska, you can go in the hole for a year. >> good morning. >> good morning. >> you want to check this out? >> yes. >> the open atmosphere at spring creek helps inmates like sam green williams survive their time in prison. >> yeah, i'm a homosexual. and you know, i have made a long-standing ground of who i am. and you know, i'm not afraid to be me. you know. and i've fought to be me. and being in prison, to me it's nothing different, you know. it's just -- i'm in prison. >> green-williams is serving six years for his third case of felony drunk driving. like a diary, his tattoos record his rocky past. >> this one represents changes in myself, you know. this one has three faces that go down. if you turn it upside down it has three faces that go the
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other way. this one, a name, past relationship. dv8. of course you know what the word deviate means, straight from the norm, other than the standard. this is kind of like me. back in the day. this is me pulling my own strings. i became a puppet to myself. this one i've had forever. the dragon represents wisdom. you know, i choose to find that within myself. i like to read. and i get wiser as the years go on, i hope. this is where i make me. these are all the things required to make my day go by. >> serving a four-year sentence for burglary, williams first landed in jail as a prostitute. >> i found out that i can dress up like a girl and go out there. so i get to act out all these repressed characters that i got to have. prostitution became -- it was fun. i got to play act. i got to -- i'm going to have some drama and bad times but hey, it was fun. i like guys that like girls so that makes me like an oddball homosexual.
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i want a guy that wants me to be feminine and all the things that he should want to get if he's with a woman. so i'm kind of -- i don't know. there's no name for what it is. so that's just me. a queen. >> have you taken the prerelease program? >> no, i'm going to take it in july. >> williams has just nine months left on his sentence. >> i guess for most people when they come to prison, the hardest part about being in prison is the loneliness. there's no companionship while you're in prison. but that's not for me. i'm not lonely and i can have companionship. >> sex in prison is supposed to be a no-no but it happens. people spend a lot of time together. it is what it is, you know. >> this is my second time here at seward. the last time i was here, oh my god. me and the boyfriend lived in the same cell. we had the matching comforters and the matching jackets and whatever.
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we had packages come in and always have the matching set or whatever. we were a little couple, you know what i'm saying? dysfunctional but it's all right. so i don't try as hard to stay out of prison like i should. which brings me back to places like this. >> though both sam and polando talk openly about their sexual experiences in prison, their outlooks are quite different. >> of course i'm not. oh, my god. i don't want to get into my partners. but you know. i'm not going to go without. please. >> let's see. i've had relationships before in jail that were long-standing. and you know, eventually they faded away or i left. i'm not concerned with sex, i'm concerned with my life. i'm at a stage in my life where i have to look outward. >> despite their success, the alaska prison system is facing a crisis.
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most facilities like spring creek are operating in maximum capacity. to alleviate the overcrowding, about a third of alaska's inmates are sent to private facilities in arizona. that's our report. thanks for watching. i'm john seigenthaler due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. there are 2 million people behind bars in america. we open the gates. "lockup." >> i'm not disappointed in anything i've done. i've made the decisions that i've made. you have to be a strong-minded individual. >> i have seen staff assaulted. i have seen staff die. >> i have lost over a pint and a half of blood. and the doctor says i don't know how much more you could have taken. >> i wish i could touch and hug them but i guess this is better than nothing.

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