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tv   Lockup Raw  MSNBC  December 16, 2012 12:00am-1:00am PST

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beat up. it's almost a never-ending situation with your sex offenders. >> we've interviewed many inmates who have expressed contempt for sex offenders. but few have done so as dramatically as one of the most memorable murderers ever profiled on "lockup." carl abhul, from the spring creek correctional center in alaska. >> there are certain people with certain criteria, rapos, child molesters. you can't cure them. there's no cure for them. you kill them. that's how you deal with the problem. there's no more problem after that. >> abhul, sentenced to 77 years for murdering a co-worker killed again at spring creek. he says he strangled his cell mate when the man began talking about sexually assaulting female staff. >> why don't you try to rape another man? why don't you do that? why you have to rape on a woman? why don't you rape me?
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try to rape me. i know there's someone out there bigger and badder than me, but i'm going to die. i'll die for what i believe in. i've got a lot of experience. i know. >> a lot of experience doing what? >> doing what i do. >> which is? >> taking out the garbage. >> because they so frequently become the prey of inmates like abhul, most sex offenders live in protective housing units. that's where we met ray rowe. >> it's a big honor badge for general population to kill somebody, especially a sex offender. >> rowe? >> rowe was sentenced to 230 years for an unlawful act with a minor. >> they don't care whether they're innocent or guilty. somebody says, did you know that guy's a chester? >> which is? >> next thing you know they're hurt. >> what's a chester? >> several years ago in "hustler" magazine they had cartoons every week, the guy called chester the molester. the term has stuck.
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>> even the most secured housing units can't always protect so-called chesters from an inmate set on hurting them. when we met christian knight, he was serving 79 years for murder at california state prison corcoran. >> just seeing christian the first time, you kind of knew he had some kind of story. very dramatic looking. you know, with all the tats and very intense. >> it turns out knight had several incredible stories but one involved his attempt to attack a sex offender at the los angeles county jail. >> got this freaking child molester on the tier. he's actually in the van talking about what he does. you know, i like to keep myself, hey, i don't lose my temper. keep myself calm, cool, and collective. that dude made me snap. i get in the van and i tell him,
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i'm going to rip the toilet off the wall. i'm going to bust through this frickin' glass. i'm going to drag it down the tier, and i'm going to bust through your glass and cut you up your [ muted ]. you're a dead man. yeah, yeah, yeah. then all you hear is steel bending. i got behind the toilet, pushed the toilet all the way back. long story short, i ripped the whole toilet off, wrapped my hands up with my socks, smashed through the glass. he hadn't seen me yet. you know what i mean? get on the tier. now he's screaming. and i'm dragging -- finally get out. all the homeys on the tier are cheering. this dude's just garbage. he's human garbage. he's a serial rape chester. i'm dripping wet with sweat, blood on my hands, and i'm dragging the toilet down the tier. i get in front of his house. he sees me for the first time.
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he starts from going to that, bragging about being this nasty piece of [ bleep ], he goes just like that. oh, lord in heaven, deliver me from this demon, please, lord. just like that, all of a sudden, he's found god. i start smashing in the glass to get to him. it's halfway in. that's when the whole unit came, guards and all that. they'll tell you, county jail is rough. they despise him too. nobody, cop, nobody likes a chester. >> if the average sex offender must contend with inmates like knighten, it can be even worse for those whose crimes made headlines. >> periodically over these 5 1/2 years, you know, i've turned the television set on to see my face, you know, on the television set. that's pretty uncomfortable. >> we met edward mckowen in tennessee at the river bend institution.
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>> i was ordained as a catholic priest in nashville in january of 1970. i served as an active priest for 19 years at which time i was in effect mustered out of the priesthood because of my behavior. i am, in effect, a child molesters. >> according to police investigators, mckowen admitted to molesting 22 boys, both during and after his time as a priest. the statute of limitations had run out on all but one. it got him a 25-year sentence. >> i certainly had some anxious moments when i walked in because of the way child molesters are traditionally treated in prison, which is not very good, you know. but the truth is, i have not been mistreated at all, either by inmates or staff. >> mckowen is lucky, as sex
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offenders go. he's assigned to the prison's one minimum security wing where most of the inmates are more interested in going home rather than getting in trouble. it's not the only positive thing mckowen sees in his incarceration. >> i was a catholic priest for a long time. i was then and i am now, you know, a person of faith. i was certainly a person of faith when i was active as a priest who had a very dark secret, and i don't have that secret anymore. i don't have to hide that. well, i've asked god to take care of me, and so far, you know, he's said, okay, you know, i'll do that. coming up on "lockup: raw" -- >> my punishment is not going to begin until i walk out those front gates because this is a world i've gotten used to since age 12. >> how one inmate's survival depends on staying in prison.
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i've been in prison now for three years. falsely convicted. >> i've always maintained my innocence. >> me, i'm innocent. i'm just visiting. >> inmates often tell our producers they were wrongly convicted. innocent of their crimes. they long for the day when they're free again. that's what made the case of richard z. hall so baffling. when we met him, ziggy was fighting to stay in prison. life out on the street wasn't all that great. so i just looked around me and say, hey, this is where it's at. >> we met ziggy at the river bend maximum security institution in tennessee, the last stop in a long life of incarceration. >> i've been locked up virtually since age 12 in institutions and reform schools and prisons and penal farms, and i'm in here this time for prying into an
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empty drawer in the lobby of a hospital. i received a life sentence under what they called the habitual criminal clause because i've been convicted so many times before for theft, shoplifting, and just being a pain to the members of society and midtown memphis. >> ziggy had grown accustomed to life in riverbend's minimum security unit. he has what he calls a cushy prison job, editing the inmate newspaper. >> my punishment is not going to begin until i walk out those front gates because this is the world i've gotten used to since age 12. but when i get out there, it's an entirely different world, and it's a changed world, and to be honest with you, i'm very, very scared. >> our crew would soon learn just how scared.
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>> every once in a while you meet an inmate who has been in prison so long, that they've really developed a comfort zone. but ziggy took it to a new level. he apparently was sabotaging his own parole hearing by tampering with his urine test, not to conceal the drug use, but actually to make it appear that he was using drugs in order to be denied parole and stay in prison. >> during our shoot, ziggy was facing a disciplinary board hearing for altering his urine test. >> let me see the text in the write-up here. >> in his hour of need, ziggy turned to an unlikely ally, fellow inmate and convicted serial rapist mark higgins. higgins' prison job is as an inmate adviser, a sort of layman defense lawyer. >> therefore, inmate hall is being charged with dsa, drug screen alter. >> i did this for a reason, was because i'm coming up for parole here in less than three months, and i needed a way to delay
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that, to delay getting out. i'm not ready to get out. >> lieutenant vance, the d-board chairman, has a tendency to have an attitude of don't know, don't care, when it comes to your personal problems. all he really wants to address is what's in the write-up. >> ziggy faces several potential penalties for attempting to alter his drug screen, including time in the hole, a loss of his prison job, and even a judgment that can make his whole plan backfire, a transfer to another prison. >> that's one punishment i really don't look forward to is being transferred somewhere else. >> ziggy's reluctance to leave prison became all the more puzzling when we learned some of what he'd endured during his 30 plus years of incarceration. >> i was not born gay and every relationship i've had has been a forced type, a, well, this is what i have to do type of thing,
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but i didn't enjoy it. as a younger prisoner, i would be made fun of quite a lot, because the lord gave me a big butt. well, i decided to turn it around, and so i would say to them, say, i got a nice one, ain't i? wow. and it became a defense mechanism, because in prison in this environment especially, if a person makes himself so easy, then those who prey on him don't -- it's too easy. it's no longer a challenge to them, so they leave him alone. >> the day after that interview, we met ziggy and higgins as they prepared to enter the disciplinary hearing. >> i'm anxious. i'm uncertain, but i've got confidence in my inmate adviser to bring out whatever and the best defense that i could have.
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>> higgins is basing ziggy's defense on a loophole having to do with his prior participation in a substance abuse program, but ziggy's fate rests in the judgment of the disciplinary board chairman, lieutenant tommy vance. >> mr. hall is charged with refusing or attempting to alter his drug test. how do you plead to the charge? guilty or not guilty? >> mr. hall pleads not guilty. as a part of the policy for the substance abuse class, any drug testing is to be kept confidential, so this issue is out of the area of the disciplinary board. >> results should be kept confidential. is that what you're saying? >> yes, sir. >> that would be the case had mr. hall took the test. he didn't take the test. >> with his first line of defense shot down, higgins pivots to explain ziggy's actions. >> richie, how many times have you been up for parole in the last 18 years? >> twice. >> what's happened each of those times? >> they've continued me because
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of something i've done. >> why would you purposely try to ditch your parole? >> because i'm scared of getting out. >> you've been at the program before? >> yes, sir. >> if you didn't want to make parole, could you say, i don't want to go? >> i don't know if you would understand, but a convict saying that he's not ready to get out, i'd feel like i would be ostracized. >> is that it? >> yes, sir. >> the lieutenant's decision comes swiftly. >> guilty of the charge of refusal, attempt to alter a drug screen, recommend five days penal segregation, assess a fee of $25, $4 fine. recommend a job drop. you want to appeal this? >> yes, sir. >> yes, sir, i don't think the $25 is appropriate. >> i can suspend that. i will suspend the $25. >> okay.
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>> and richie would like a little time to get his affairs in order before he has to go away for five days. >> no. everything i heard and saw, he attempted to alter the results of a drug test. >> i was given five days in solitary confinement, and he recommended a job drop, which means i'll probably go to pots and pans in the kitchen. >> but ziggy's first stop is the segregation unit, better known as the hole, where he will be locked up 23 hours a day. though for ziggy, it's not all that bad. >> i won't be granted parole in april, and that's mission accomplished, so i have to accept the consequences of what he said. please direct all my mail over to me. >> what mail? >> oh, yeah, true.
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all i can say is if you don't want to meet the parole board, come up with some other way than tampering with your drug screen. >> 42 to mobile 3, be advised, we have one inmate from unit 6 to unit 3 through the access row. >> having reflected on what happened to richie hall, really feel bad about that. i don't think that i did the best job that i could do. i think they treated him unfairly, to be honest about it. they don't want to address the problem that he still has issues with trying to adjust to freedom. coming up -- >> what in the world is this? >> i have no idea. >> it's key to survival, but prison food has plenty of
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critics. >> how's the food? >> terrible. >> everybody complains, you know, everywhere you go they complain. >> my question is where is all the beef at?
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if nobody's told you, the most important thing inside a prison is feeding the inmates. has anybody told you that yet? >> no. >> you don't feed the inmates, inmates get real upset. >> they don't pay us enough for this. >> making blueberry pancakes. >> making oatmeal for the whole institution. >> what's for lunch today? >> we've got spaghetti, meat sauce, lima beans. >> one of the interesting things about "lockup" is the subject of prison food. inmates are not shy telling you what they think about it. whether they love it or hate it and generally they do hate it, they're eager to tell you about it. >> how's the food? >> how's the food?
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>> the food is wonderful. >> you're always starving from meal to meal. >> i've gained 15 to 20 pounds since i've been in. i've only been in four months. >> what in the world is this? >> i have no idea. >> five-star restaurant. >> i think i'll stick with the potatoes. >> everybody complains. everywhere you go, somebody's going to complain. >> if you want, you could sit down and join us and you'll know for yourself. >> for some, prison food is the best they've had in years. we were at the brushy mountain correctional complex in tennessee when jason rogers arrived to begin a 24-year sentence for aggravated robbery. he had spent the last three years in county jail. >> i don't know. maybe i'm a little numb in my head, but i'll be all right. >> look right here at the camera. >> though rogers had never been to prison before, he told us there was one thing he was looking forward to. >> people told me that you eat better in the penitentiary, you eat better than you do in the county jail. >> i remember when i was getting the shot of jason sitting down
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and finally eating, it was like a kid at a picnic with all the best food, all the best food imaginable, like a kid in the candy store. he was just putting it in his mouth, having a great time. >> what did you have? >> hotdogs and cake. >> okay. you look pretty happy. >> well, i haven't had cake in three years, so you know. >> okay. >> i'm happy about that. and i can have some sense, you know, some sense of joy. >> at the miami-dade county jail, we met a group of friends who couldn't quite agree on the culinary merits of lunch. >> this is the only meal that's not great. it's the only one that's not great. it's bologna every day. a hot meal in the morning and at
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night. >> this is the best part of the day, lunchtime. and this is how we eat. nice cold cuts. they're great. we enjoy it sometimes. >> this is turkey salami with little pieces of peppercorn in there that kind of like get jammed in your teeth and they're terrible. >> this is apple pie, we've got cheese. we've got a pear. it will ripen in a couple days. we have an orange that's ripe now, and we've got a raisin cream pie and chocolate cream pie that people literally fight over. >> this is the best part of the day. >> this is the worst part of the day. >> best or worst, at most of the prisons we visited, inmates have only about 15 minutes to eat. >> we feed one tier at a time out of each of the buildings, so it takes a good hour and a half at least to get everybody fed. and they get about 15 minutes to eat in the dining room. usually it takes them about five though.
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they're real quick at it. they come in, they eat, they go. >> how's the food? >> huh? >> how's the food? >> terrible. >> terrible, what's so bad about it? >> you come on a day when they chicken, a piece of chicken. >> what do they usually have? >> garbage. >> what happens if they take longer than 15 minutes? >> they're told to get up and leave. they have to leave their tray there, and they go about their business. >> they don't have no beef, no steak, no beef, no turkey. what else they don't have around here, man? >> don't let them kid you. they get good well-balanced meals. they feed them a lot better than they ever fed us in the marine corps. they eat good. >> i've been here five years and they haven't had a steak. not even a little piece of steak, none. all of your brown beef is like processed. my question is, where's all the beef at?
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>> but today's a good day, huh? >> i'm a vegetarian, so -- >> why are you asking where the beef is then? >> because that's what made me go vegetarian. next on "lockup: raw." >> that's my buddy there. makes it a lot easier if you have a roommate you get along with, something in common with. >> a good cellie is key to an inmate's survival, but a potential threat to a "lockup" camera man. >> it was at that moment, that one little moment where i thought, uh-oh, what have i done? what have i done? now back to "lockup."
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due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. >> there's certain ways that you conduct yourself in here, too, you know what i'm saying? >> somebody wants to talk to him. you know what i'm saying? i got to sit down. >> i might have to come up like this, or he can just turn inside here and walk this way. >> yes. this is how you do it. you do your back that way. you know what i'm saying? >> ain't nobody gay up in here. >> few things in prison are as key to survival as having a good cell mate. >> when you live with a person 24 hours a day, you build up a brotherhood, a sense of -- you build up a rapport that you don't have with your family. and you're both dependent on each other for survival. >> but some cell mates can't get along. "lockup" crews have heard vivid accounts of inmates attacking
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their cellies. >> i got into an altercation with my bunky. i ended up stabbing him. >> i stuck my hand up his ass to my forearm and bashed his head and made him drink out that toilet. and took the toilet and strangled him. when they opened up the door, i tried to throw him off the tier. >> i tore the sheet and wrapped it around his head and i said, nope, you ain't doing nothing. >> but at the brushy mountain correctional complex in tennessee we met two cell mates who were not only successfully living together, but doing so in a maximum security unit, locked up 23 hours per day. >> it's not any kind of fun, stuck in a cell. you go out. me and him go out and work out every day, come back in the cell and watch tv and listen to the radio. that's our life every day. >> sky bishop was sent to the hole when he refused to share his cell with an inmate the prison assigned him.
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>> what about your cell mate now? >> i've known him for over a year. that's my buddy right there. i don't have any problems with him. we always get along. i had him moved down here. he wanted to move in. makes time a lot easier if you got a roommate you get along with, you got something in common with. makes prison life a lot easier. >> when it came time for his interview, sky's cellie, jason davis, expressed reservations. >> kind of get nervous with a camera pointing right in your face, you know what i'm saying. they say it adds ten pounds to you. >> he's worried about the camera adding ten pounds? >> no, just messing with you. just joking. trying to make a laugh. >> jason and sky were a real team. these guys were playing cards, smoking cigarettes. i think it was their way to survive. he's got his back, the other guy's got his, and that's the way they made it work. >> lonely days in brushy mountain.
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>> both men conceded drug use played a part in putting them in prison. bishop's aggravated assault conviction began with an argument over a parking space at a mall. >> he was smart mouthing my girlfriend, so i got into a fight with the guy, ended up stabbing him and then running his buddy off the road, off the interstate. i got six years for it. >> davis has a 17-year sentence for attempted murder but claims he was only defending himself. >> two people come in to rob me, i shot them both. i shot one with a gun, shot one with a bow. but in the state of tennessee, you cannot shoot people regardless, in your house, on your property, or anything. if they're trying to come and rob you, they say to run. they say try to call the law or whatever. you cannot defend yourself in the state of tennessee no more. >> with some inmates when you hear their story, you don't know what's the truth, what's not. well, as we dug a little further into the story, it was like peeling layers of an onion a little bit. >> see, i had been up about seven or eight days at this time, too. if you've ever been up that long, you know you're hallucinating.
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you know what i'm saying? >> it turns out he was high on crystal meth. >> basically what i thought when they come in. i mean like i had friends running in and out all the time, you know. it was a bachelor house, you know what i'm saying? and basically i thought they were just coming to rob me. >> i think things got out of hand for poor jason. >> shot one with a 9 millimeter twice in the leg, shot one with the bow and arrow in the gut. >> prior to prison, both men had been married. but as they revealed in some surprisingly candid confessions to our crew, they took very different approaches to matrimony. >> what happened to your wife? >> she didn't want to get a divorce, but i divorced her anyway because i wanted her to move on with her life. i got so much time now, 17 1/2 years. i still got parole but it's hard telling when i'll make it. i just wanted her to move on with her life. >> in contrast, bishop was receiving letters and occasional visits from both his wife and an ex-girlfriend. >> does your wife know about the other woman? >> she knows about her. she's known about her for a long time. she knows it's not a big deal. she knows i love her and she's the one i want to be with. >> you have women fighting over you. come on, you're in prison. >> sun shines on a dog's ass some days.
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>> but the reality is neither man will actually be with a woman for a long time. >> how do you deal with that? you know, you've got 17 years. how do you deal with that? >> we don't have a choice in here or nothing unless you turn gay. >> right. >> i don't turn gay. every now and then i might masturbate in the shower, i'm not going to lie. all men's done it. all men in prison probably do it. after so many years eventually you're going to play with yourself or something. >> while davis and bishop were open and friendly during the interview, cameraman steve field was reminded that in prison, things aren't always as they seem. >> after we finished up the interview, we said our good-byes and jason davis extended his hand through the bars to shake, and i didn't think about it, but i shook his hand, and he grabbed me, and it was almost like he was trying to crush my hand, to the point he really wanted to hurt me. and it was that one moment, that one little moment where i thought uh-oh, what have i done? what have i done? that incident with jason davis always stuck with me and i always tried to figure out what the heck that was all about.
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was it to show me that he was in charge? i'm with the camera, but he wanted to let me know, this was his house, and it may have just been a very macho, spontaneous moment for him. for me, it was a scary, real moment. next on "lockup: raw, survival 101." >> for me the cells are too small. i think it breeds an environment for homosexuality. >> one inmate's fight for solitude. >> we're inside that cell all day. >> that's not a luxury of being in prison. you should have thought about that before he went to prison. you've got to have a cellie.
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while a good cell mate might help to make prison more tolerable for some inmates, others believe that any cell mate is a threat to their survival. >> if i don't take a cellie, i can be sure that a cellie won't murder me, a cellie won't rape me or viciously beat me. when you refuse, you're going against their policy. so they stick you in a hole. >> that's exactly where we met dennis hamilton, in the hole, solitary confinement in the administrative segregation unit at kern valley state prison. it was the second time his refusal to share a cell had landed him there. but his time in the hole was about to end. and he was scheduled to return to general population, where sharing a cell is mandatory. >> to me the cells are too small. i think the cell in itself breeds an environment for homosexuality. >> dennis hamilton was an
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unusual inmate. he just believed he didn't have to live with another man. i think he had a fear about living with another man. >> and to me it's like you don't even want these people in society, but you want me to feel safe inside a cell with this person. >> ironically other inmates might not feel safe around hamilton either. he's serving a life sentence for kidnapping, carjacking, robbery, and say salt with a deadly weapon. nine years in, he's only now decided to make his stand against taking a cell mate. >> there's no rule that says i have to take a cellie. two, i don't want to live with another man for the rest of my life. >> 127. >> the prison officials disagree. we followed him to an administrative hearing on the matter. >> here we go. escort!
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>> you don't have any enemies? >> nope. >> you seem to be a guy who gets along with people. >> yes. >> why won't you take a cell mate? >> i feel threatened place in a cell with another person. i feel my life is in it danger. >> okay. let me tell you what path you're going down right now. right now it seems like it's no big deal. been locked up twice for it. there's documentation on one, there's going to be another documentation on another one. and if you keep going and you don't take a cellie, guess what happens? >> what? >> indeterminant shu. >> the shu is the secure housing unit, where inmates live under the harshest restrictions in the entire state. while shu inmates usually get their own cell, they lose all other privileges. >> so you don't get visits. >> no, not really. no. no, it's -- nope. >> i'm just telling you --
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>> i have, but they don't matter. >> i'm just telling you, in order to be a programmer, you have to show that you're willing to be socially acceptable with somebody else in your cell. in other words, you're a program failure. that's all i'm trying to tell you. >> okay. >> you don't want to do it, but you're going to do it, okay? >> okay. >> i'm serious. you don't have to marry him. >> yeah, i mean, it seem that way. you're placing this inmate in the cell with me. i mean we're not -- we're not outside the cell all day. we're inside that cell all day. >> yeah, but that should have been a consideration before you went to prison. >> the committee is baffled, not only by hamilton's stubbornness but by its sudden appearance after nine years behind bars at other state prisons. >> you have been taking a cellie up until the time you got here. once you got here, you stopped taking cellies. >> that's not a luxury of being in prison.
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he should have thought about that before he went to prison. he's got to have a cellie. >> escorted back to his ad seg cell, hamilton is optimistic that he will win his battle and return to general population without a cell mate. >> i'm happy. i ain't got to stay in the cell. i get my tv, radio, and property back. >> later we were with hamilton as officers escorted him to his new general population cell. >> it's all right. just relax. don't get tense. i can feel you tense now. >> yeah? >> yeah. it's all right. >> finally, hamilton reaches his new cell, and his new cell mate. the relationship is short-lived. >> you refuse? go ahead, close it. >> close it. >> are you sure? you didn't even want to look at who you -- >> doesn't matter.
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>> okay. we've got to turn back. >> before hamilton is returned to his cell, his escort officers make one more attempt to reason with him. >> you have to find somebody that you're compatible with because eventually we're going to run out of bed space. >> i'm not asking you to do it for everybody. >> well, then you're just asking special favoritism for yourself. >> no. >> you have to have a medical reason. >> no. >> is there a rule in ccr, order title 15 that says an inmate has to be housed with another inmate? yes or no? >> i don't know. you can talk to the sergeant about that. >> and then something happened that i've never seen happen in prison before, an officer brought out the rule book. >> okay, hamilton, this here is kern valley state prison operational procedure, number 222. >> and set it down in front of
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dennis and said, look, here's what it says. >> in a nutshell it says that every inmate will accept a cellie except if he has -- see this little thing? it's called an "s" suffix. that means single cell status. if you have that attached to your cdc number, then we'll never, ever try to house you with another inmate because you have gone through all the hoops, whatever it takes, either you committed battery on your inmate -- or cell partners or you've, you know -- >> murdering, battery, i know. >> or a psychiatrist says. >> yeah, but i'm not crazy. >> well, that's your answer. that's it. call the governor. that's pretty much it for me. >> hamilton was sent back to the hole. but a few days later, we heard of an alarming new development in his case. he had assaulted an officer.
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>> sometimes you anticipate your moves as far as what inmates are going do and their capability, and sometimes you are just surprised. i didn't think he was going to take it to this level where he would assault staff. >> the officer was not badly injured, but it landed hamilton back in administrative segregation, with a high probability of being sent to the shu, a place most inmates dread. >> to me it's prison. it's still prison. it's not going to change. it's still prison. >> and set it down in front of dennis and said, look, here's what it says. >> in a nutshell it says that every inmate will accept a cellie except if he has -- see this little thing? it's called an "s" suffix. that means single cell status. if you have that attached to if you send me to the shu or to a
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level one, it's still prison. i can't leave when i want, i can't do what i want, but i, this is what i can control. i can control you placing another inmate in there. since i can control that, you will not place another inmate in there. next on "lockup: raw" -- >> yes, i had a job. i was a professional escort. i was running my ads in "play time" magazine and "sex action" magazine. >> charged with murder, a former call girl makes peace with the past. >> yes, i had nice cars, living like a star with the bling-bling and the dress code and my gun on lock and load on a long dark road going nowhere.
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prison is tailor-made to fit anybody. whether you're young, old, professional, non-professional, on skid row, white collar, blue collar, it's tailor-made to fit anybody. so don't think it won't happen to you. you commit this crime and you won't come in jail or go to prison, because you will. >> we met gwendolyn collins at the miami-dade county jail. >> my charge is second-degree murder. >> attempted or -- >> second-degree murder. the person is deceased. >> still awaiting her trial, she
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didn't want to discuss the details of her crime, but she was quite frank about everything else. >> what were you doing before you came in here? did you have a job? >> yes, i had a job. i was a professional escort. i had -- i was running my ads in "playtime" magazine and "sex action" magazine. i had like two or three lines that i was running from my house. i would forward my lines to my cell phone so i could -- it was a 24-hour operation. i had maybe a few girls working for me besides my cousin, and, you know, i just used to go out on calls, and i used to make good money. >> the thing about gwendolyn collins is she's facing a long prison sentence possibly for second-degree murder, and she has kids. >> this is kevin, and this is ricky.
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they're the loves of my life. he's 12, and he's 11. >> the thought that she would not be able to be with the kids or even right then was able to take care of her kids was literally torturing her. >> how do you explain to your children, you know, your situation? how do you tell them, you know, that mommy's in jail, and i might go away for a while? i got a calendar to watch the days go by, to count the days. >> collins, a single mother, told us she used her escort service to support her family, after previous convictions for fraud and grand theft made it tough to find a more conventional job. >> they say eoe, equal opportunity. you know, there's no equal opportunity. they don't hire convicted felons. they don't hire murderers. they don't hire people like us, you know, and it's funny, because i was going for a
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position one time, and i took a microsoft entry-level test, and i scored a 98 because i'm very intelligent, and they would not give me a job because i was a convicted felon, and i told the lady, i was like you're telling me you would rather pay higher taxes than give me a job? you'd rather pay higher taxes and build more prisons and more jails than offer me a job, and you know i'm qualified for it? and she told me those are the rules. so the system is kind of messed up, and i think that's why a lot of people keep coming back. >> though frustrated by the system, collins had found a way to voice her grievances. >> my name is gwendolyn collins. and the poem is "why i write poetry." i don't write poetry for the fame, speaking loud with no shame, the words i spit i claim, it's all a part of the game i call life. i consider myself an artist, painting mental pictures in my head. >> we saw collins the slam poet when she gave an impromptu performance for the women in her jail dorm. >> and the bible says that god blesses baby and fools. i think god has a sense of humor and is amused, you see, because being in a women's detention center is not all he has in store for me. i guess that's how i started to write poetry. it saved me from arguments, headaches and heartaches. i like it because i feel that i
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can express, i can teach, i can motivate others. i feel good when i'm up there. when i'm on stage and i recite and on the mike i feel free. there's no boundaries. living a life of crime bought nothing but misery. i had nice cars, living like a star with the bling-bling and the dress code and my gun always on lock and load on a long, dark road going nowhere. >> poetry had such an effect on some of the younger women inmates, almost being moved to tears, they were so overwhelmed by what she had to say to them. >> poetry is meant, it's deep down in your core. i'm here to stay, i found my way, i want to be heard for all to hear and see, but to be honest, i do it, i do it for me. [ cheers and applause ] >> that's right. >> when i came in here, you know, i had a temper problem. i had my ideas about life were really distorted, and you know, now i know my purpose a little bit. but if you would have caught me just a few years ago, we would have been thumping it out.
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i'd knock your butt on the floor. one thing i learned is me, myself and i is all i got to the end, that's whey found out, and there ain't no need to cry. i took a vow from now on i'm going to be my own best friend and i'll never disappoint myself. >> so articulate, so verbal, so poetic, and it makes you wonder where would she have been if she wasn't in jail or gone down this path. >> i've walked a mile here, you know. i've walked the mile, and it's kind of rough on me. i look out the window, and i get kind of sad. helpful, loving, unified, family-oriented, dignified, positive, attitude, enless opportunities will arise. surprised? i'm not. do i have hope? oh, yes. i have an abundance of hope. i've got a pocketful of hope. i can give you some.
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>> divine touch every person i meet. through tribulations and trials i wake up each morning and i thank god with a smile. i'm a survivor okay.
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what did you say, heywood? >> yeah, you better put your foot up. so i'll get this, right here, and i'll put it like this on the bottom. i said nah, that's not him. >> no, that's not him. >> three years earlier, he was making a name for himself in san antonio. due to the popularity of his barbecue restaurant and catering >> narrator: a satanist runs a variety of inmate hustles to fund a bodybuilder's appetite. >> i've gained 44 pounds since i've been here. >> narrator: and a member of the arian brotherhood dishes out his own justice. i said hey, punk, get up. i've got some bad news for you.


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