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tv   America Tonight  Al Jazeera  December 20, 2013 9:00pm-9:31pm EST

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in just a moment. >> welcome to al jazeera america. i'm john siegenthaler in new york. here is a look at the top stories. president obama ask headed to hawaii, he held an end of the week press conference today, mr. president obama says there's been no evidence of abuse. >> i have confidence in the fact that the nsa is not engaged in domestic surveillance or snooping around. as technology is changed, and people can run algorithms that match out all -- map out all the information we're downloading
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into our telephones and our computers that we may have to refine this further to give people more confidence. >> senate majority leader harry reid is home, after a series of tests and observations, doctors diagnosed him with exhaustion. he missed several votes at the end of the year. for news at any time, you can go to >> on "america tonight" an al jazeera exclusive. part 2 into our exclusive. life behind bars,.
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>> one week after incarceration, they found him hanging from a sheet. most horrible call i've ever received in my life. >> faith and forgiveness. she lost her faith but not her love. ron burgundy, how sometimes lines are blurred. >> i'd say lighten up. there's a whole revolution happening in television news that's reflected in this exhibit.
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>> an good evening. thanks for joining us. i'm joie chen. there can be no more intimidating isolating environment than the walls of our prison system. especially for those whose disabilities make any communication challenging. even the untold stories of the imprisoned, years have developed contacts behind bars and in the hearing impaired community to bring this important story out. tonight we begin with the second part of this exclusive in-depth look at the challenges of the deaf and disabled in prison with the look at the fair treatment guaranteed to inmates with physical and mental impairments, and examine why the prison system so rarely delivers on those guarantees.
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>> when individuals come in who have disabilities, these systems aren't prepared to handle them. they don't have the type of clinically support they need. these are not therapeutic environments. if you are disabled, these institutions aren't set up to deem with you and no accommodations are generally ever going to be made for you. >> my name is william, i'm 39 years old, i'm incarcerated in this facility for a year. for possession of a firearm. and impaired person we always get problems more than a normal person because we don't communicate as well as they do. dealing with correctional officers, because they don't really know hearing impaired, they call you from behind, you
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don't hear them they come rush you, and i get attacked and i turn around and i attack back, you know. i got a hearing aid now but i need my charger for it. they don't accept this charge he in the facility because people can say you can make a bomb or whatever out of it. but i'm not beat for it so i leave that alone and i wait until i do my time. >> my name is robin a ahearn i'e been here in the philadelphia prison system for four years, working at the riverside correctional facility. staff inmates don't have equal access to services that they need and they need someone to be an advocate for them. people who can hear get ten minutes on the phone every day. on the other hand, if that inmate has to actually schedule
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an appointment with the city social worker to get the tty and talk on the phone. if they don't have communication with their family and loved ones they won't feel support, they won't feel love. they'll feel more isolated in the prison systems. right now, she lacks a sign language interpreter to complete a program that she needs to get relief, therefore she's in jail longer than she really needs to
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be. it would actually save the state money to get her out of jail sooner, having a sign language interpreter provided for her would be a good investment.
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>> it just makes it even more difficult to overcome if you have a disability. if you don't have sign language access, in terms of therapy, group therapy, you're not going to get the support you need to stay clean. >> i am the mother of jeremy jeremy never got treated right from the beginning, from the time of arrest. when he was hold at the lawrence county jail he never got an assigned call, or a sign language interpreter. he got called down 16 times when he was at the county jail. one week from incarceration exactly six days they found him hanging by the sheet. it was the most horrible experience i ever -- most horrid
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phone call i ever received in my life. he was 42 days without a phone call. a regular hearing person was allowed to use the phone within three days. my son was denied use of a phone for 42 days. i want my son treated just like anybody else. i want him to have the same opportunity as a hearing person does. i want him to be treated equal in the eyes of the law. >> talilah lewis joins us now she's the founder of heard, do you know how many in the prison country are hearing impaired? >> by and large prison systems
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are not tracking how many deaf in any particular facility. besides heard's database it is very, very difficult to tell. some states have some numbers but most states have nothing. >> what is the need? shouldn't the ada cover the need within a facility, a state or federal facility? >> the ada covers compliance of state run facilities. the rehabilitate act is actually the law that applies to the federal bureau of prisons. in either case, yes, language access services must be provided. it's unquestionable under both those laws. >> as a practical matter it's just not? >> it's not happening. everything in our prison system is so secretive, so hidden that people aren't aware unless you have a family member who's deaf in prison, unless you're an advocate or attorney, and the prison application act which was passed by our congress in 1995
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that makes it really, really difficult to sue as a prisoner. >> you know there aren't going to be people who suggest that look, some of these folks have been convicted of quite serious crimes. should there be an allowance made, should there be an additional support for people who are disabled beyond what is required by the law in areas we have talked about already? >> absolutely. it's not additional -- people would say additional favors or things like that. it's not that. what we're asking for is equality. so the fact that a deaf person can go into a prison, a deaf or any other disabled person and not receive access to services, mental health care services, medical health care services, while security is a factor in the whole prison complex if you will, it is something that can be handled and has been handled
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time and time again with facilities that do allow interpreters. the powhattan is system in new jersey for example, however it's appropriate for their facility they've plowed interpreters. but prisons aren't looking to get interpreters in the first place. the reason they're in prison isn't necessarily because they are a bad person but the whole system failed, they didn't have interpreters during interrogation or during court so on so forth. we find disabled people are misrepresented in prison not because the system is bad but because the system fails them from a to z. >> thanks very much for bringing this unreported story to life. talilah lewis, thank you. >> thank you for having me. >> after a class action lawsuit
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new york prison system is one of the very few making an effort to accommodate the deaf and hard-of-hearing. only one out of five states that houses deaf and hard-of-hearing inmates together. >> my name ask ryan nathaniel doring and what i do here is i work as a teacher's aide and i like helping inmates learn. because we have the deaf program
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here, a lot of the inmates they try to be more sensitive, you know, if there's something going on, something important, sometimes they'll let us know, that way we won't feel left out. >> there are about half a dozen facilities across the state that can house our population. and our job here is to make sure that they've been identified correctly and that they don't slip through the contraction and go to any other facility other than those designated for persons with disability. i think it's really important to identify immediately, so that we don't set ourselves up for any kind of discrimination lawsuits. because it happened once and that's what created the program. >> there needs to be oversight to find out whether or not these
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institutions are actually following our laws, like the americans with disabilities act. unfortunately there's very little public scrutiny and oversight of these institutions in general and certainly an effort to do this on a local and national level will make a huge difference for disabled people who are now in jail.
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>> the understanding is, if you take that sign language class, it's not just outer of interest for some of these maximum security guys who have been working let's say many years as an interpreter there, we try oget them to a medium facility that is designated for the deaf and mofg so they can continue -- hard-of-hearing so they can continue to use that skill. >> we need new and different solutions if we really want to make a difference. we need to ensure that these institutions treat people with doesn'tcy and dignity and provide -- decency and dignity and they can live a safe and secure life.
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>> coming up on america tonight, they took her husband's life on the streets of benghazi, but not her faith. the power of forgiveness next.
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>> and welcome back. we look now to a story you might have seen first in the headline
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news. libya you're well aware has been in turmoil since the fall of moammar gadhafi two years ago. outsiders try to bring hope and help to the country. ronnie smith was one of those people. a year and a half ago he moved with his wife and baby son to work as a high school teacher to the city of benghazi. just two years ago, smith was shot and killed when he was jogging near his home. still in mourning, his wife wrote an open letter. we asked her to read it to us. >> i hear people speaking with hate blame and anger over ronnie's death. but that's not ronnie would want. he would want to show one another love and forgiveness because that is what god has
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shown us. >> anita smith we thank you for bringing your story to us. >> thank you. >> of course i'm struck by you r generosity. what inspired to you do that? >> i wanted the libyan people to know what my heart and ronnie's heart was to them. we don't blame them at all for this. it wasn't the heart of libyan people to do this. if anything they loved us. they took us into their hearts. >> he referred to them as best friends. there were students of his other friends of those who cared and were very angry and were expressing had a. was your letter in a way also a message to them about forgiving and the important of forgiving
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here? >> i think now, yeah, i want it for the entire libyan people and just anybody that reads the letter that this is the god that ronnie and i loved. this is the god that we serve and love. it's a god who forgives, even though there are enemies. christ taught us to love your enemies and forgive them even if they've done us harm because that's what we want to show. >> do you have need that they have not identified the killers, they have not identified the people who attacked your husband. do you have a need for them to do that, would you want that, would you want them to see yourself? >> i have nothing like a personal need or want to see who's done that. because what's done is done. they can't bring ronnie back. >> would you want to see them to tell them how you feel? >> the only thing i would -- it's not necessary for me to see them but it's to know my message to them, i love them, i forgive
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them and i know ronnie feels the same way and we want our son jose to feel the same way that we are to love our enemies. >> i understand you have already contemplatereturning to libya iryourself with with your son. why? >> that is where ronnie and i and our son had all our memories, in libya. we didn't get to say going to the family we had there. for multiple reason, for closure because it seems unreal he's gone. and i would love to see the families there, just be able to love them and see them again. >> some people will wonder were you mistaken or naive to feel that you could be safe in an environment like that? >> even before we left, they said it's not going to be safe there, something is going to happen. we knew there was risk, but we
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knew that god had called us to be there to be a blessing to the people to want to show them peace and love, the peace and love that god has shown us so we knew that it was a risky place. >> well, we thank you for sharing your story with us. >> thank you. >> thanks very much for being here. >> thank you. >> and we'll have more of our program after this break. education apartheid, that's the facts... >> talk to al jazeera with m. night shayamalan sunday at 7et / 4pt on al jazeera america
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>> and finally from us tonight, we like to think of ourselves as a classy news operation, after all "america tonight" originates
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from the museum, classy enough to have a sense of humor, especially when it takes place in our own backyard. "america tonight" sarah hoy went in. >> the legend of ron burgundy. >> i love scotch, i love scotch, scotchy scotch scotch. >> that 2004 comedy quickly became a cult classic. now almost a decade later, the highly anticipated follow-up anchorman 2, the legend continues, is in theaters. >> we're starting a 24 hour news channel. we want you. >> do the thing that god put ron burgundy on the earth to do. have salon quality hair and read the news. >> promoting the film when had
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farrell appearing on a number of tv shows as the over the top ron burgundy, promoting a fake book. >> there's tips in here i wouldn't expect to come from a newsman, one is how to survive a prison riot. >> or interviewing nfl quarterback peyton manning for espn. >> peyton, can you hear me? >> i sure can, ron. and it's an honor to be talking to you. >> peyton, can you hear me? >> and even real new news casts. >> i'm amber shots. >> and i'm ron burgundy, thanks for joining us. >> but his biggest coup. the newseum in washington, d.c, the temple for news. >> when i heard the newseum was
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planning an exhibit for me, i thought what the hell is the newseum. >> the choshman exhibit complete with a recreation with the kvwn anchor desk, sheds lights on sexism. >> this is an opportunity we didn't tell before about life in the 1970s when women first started coming into television newsrooms. it was a clash of cultures between the men who dominated and the women who wanted a slice of the pie also. >> a spoof accommodate, like the fall of the berlin wall. >> i guess i'd say lighten up, you know, this is an exhibit where we tell a very real story. there's a whole revolution that's happening in television news that's reflected in this exhibit. >> while the first anchorman movie took a swing at the tv
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news business, the dawn of cable news a decade later. from news bus, for anchorman fans, there's ron's signature burgburgdburgundy honor. >> this is an incredible honor. finally, i got angry, what took the museum so damn long to give me a call. like come on, knuckle heads. >> back to you, joie, you stay classy. >> been there, done all that. that's eigh "america tonight"'sh hoy reporting. for "america tonight", good
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night. >> you want to come first? >> not really. just go ahead and shop with these two guys here. >> lea. >> yeah, i'm all right. >> you see what? >> no. ♪ ♪


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