tv Lockup Raw MSNBC December 25, 2013 7:00pm-8:01pm PST
due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. msnbc takes you behind the walls of america's most notorious prisons into a world of chaos and danger. now, the scenes you've never seen, "lockup: raw." >> i get mad sometimes, man. i get angry. >> the emotional toll here is like water torture. every day it's like a drip, drip, drip. >> always somebody bugging out,
always somebody causing trouble in the cell house. >> i'm not a man till i can tell you that. >> [ bleep ] >> it really wears on you after awhile. you know, you got to get away from it. >> [ bleep ]. i really like birds. they're pretty neat. >> "lockup" crews have met hundreds of inmates facing long-term sentences. for some like dale veers at iowa state penitentiary, that means the chance to pick up a new skill or two. >> you start out with a block. then cut it down. and then i keep grinding and shaping it until i get it where it's supposed to be. >> a life sentence for kidnapping has given viers a chance to master bird carving. >> i kept the very first bird i
ever carved because i just knew that i would get better. that is the first one i carved. that's my duck head. duck's getting a little bit better. i have another bird here. they get better. >> when we met him, viers was hard at work on his most elaborate piece yet. >> i have a robin pulling a worm out of the ground. >> he even had a live model to work with. >> i've got a worm in here. see? he's alive. i've had him for three weeks. so i can get the color and everything right when i make it. >> viers is hardly alone when it comes to finding creative ways to kill time. at first our crew thought indiana state prison inmate donte kidd's stack of toilet paper with a mirror on top was some form of abstract art. but he had a far more practical reason for pushing his creation into the corridor outside his cell. >> for those who don't have tvs, sometimes they try to watch it off the range, catch the reflection of an individual tv
in the next cell. and just sit back and watch tv. >> kidd is serving time for drug sales dreamt up his creation when his own tv stopped working. >> i call it a porta tv stand. actually because toilet paper, porta stand. just a little jailhouse ingenuity. not as good as high def. you know what i mean? >> while the quality of kidd's television viewing might be compromised, other inmates lose the privilege altogether for causing trouble. >> i don't have a tv. they took all my privileges for spitting on that dude. so it's like i don't know, probably take my privileges and, like, good time, that don't matter here. there ain't no sunshine here, man. >> when we met edwin smith, he had been at colorado state penitentiary for less than a month just starting a 30-year sentence for cutting a man's
throat in a bar fight. he lost his television privileges for spitting on an officer during intake and things were about to go even further downhill. >> mentally, you have to take it [ bleep ]. you can't really fight with someone. >> the night before our interview with him, smith had received a lesson in supermax security when he chose to hole up in his cell. >> we're here to perform a cell extraction on smith, edwin. the reason for the extraction is the inmate refused to come out for a cell search. >> smith's actions triggered colorado's emergency response team. one of their primary functions is to extract uncooperative inmates from their cells. >> when our crews follow a cell extraction, it's one of the most intense moments on "lockup." it's when an inmate refuses to cuff up or come out of the cell or is doing damage to the cell and the special response team is called in. >> need you to cuff up. if you refuse to cup of you, we will introduce oc gas into your cell. >> what's that? >> you'll find out. it's a chemical agent. >> it's almost like watching a car chase on tv. you know the inmate's not going to win. the officers have the equipment, pepper spray, stun shields, handcuffs, the manpower. >> one last chance to cuff up. inmate refuses, introduce gas. >> ow! whoo! >> the gas quickly convinces
smith to cooperate with correctional staff. >> strip down to your boxers. take your shirt off. turn around. when we open this door, i want you to drop straight down to your knees, do you understand me? >> yes. >> because of the spitting incident when he first arrived, officers cover smith's head with a spit net. >> we're going to put a net over your head. don't pull away from us. >> i can't breathe. it's been hell, man. they threw gas on me and degraded me, treated me like an animal. i can't breathe. ow!
>> as long as you're compliant, you'll get a decontamination shower. >> the more you rub the more it's going to burn. >> oh, really? now you tell me. >> as far as cell extractions go, smith's was fairly routine. it was a different story at the spring creek correctional center in alaska. >> [ bleep ]. >> prisoner demonstrated aggressive agitated behavior by using abusive language and continually banging on his cell walls causing injury to his hands and wrists. >> when spring creek's extraction team was called to remove steven blevins from his cell, he was in a state of rage and had been pounding the walls with his bare fists for over an hour. >> [ bleep ].
come on. >> but when we first met blevins, he was in a much calmer state as he told us how mental illness led to murder. >> i fell in june of '93, psychotic delusion, out on a fishing boat. i attributed it to working too much, too long, too hard. and basically tweaked out and killed a couple guys. i've been fishing out of dutch harbor for about 4 1/2 years. and never thought about murder, never contemplated killing somebody. but a guy walked by me one time and just -- i thought that he was going to kill me and i killed him and another guy first. >> how? >> with a knife, fishing knife. just a six-inch fishing knife in the chest did it fine. >> were you hearing voices? what was going on? >> no, it's kind of a story line.
i just -- i believed they were going to kill me. and a moment passed that when i thought they were going to do it now. and i was either going to be killed by them or kill them first. and i decided to kill them first. i didn't say nothing to them or talk about it to them. i just did it, you know, and threw them into the bay. >> blevins almost got away with the double murder. he told state troopers looking for the missing men that they had quit their jobs and had moved on. but when blevins tried to leave the state, his anger resurfaced. >> next day was my time to ship out, and i assaulted a guy at the airport. so the troopers found me for the second time in three days or whatever and they went back to the boat and found the blood and the bodies.
and -- >> how did they find the bodies? >> one floated up on the spit. the other was sunk beneath the stern of the boat. >> when we met him, blevins was taking medication to correct the chemical imbalance that drove him to kill. the prison gave us permission to interview him. >> as long as i take the medication twice a day, i can stay on the compound. you know? >> what happens if you don't? >> what happens is if i refuse it, in a matter of maybe three days, they're going to use whatever means they need to use to put the drugs in me. >> the prison provided this dramatic evidence of what does happen when blevins goes off his meds. >> what you gonna do? i can be like this now for an hour from now. [ bleep ]. come on. >> his behavior has increased in the past two days. mental health recommended the restraint chair be used.
so he does not cause any harm to himself. >> blevins, come over here and talk to me for a minute. if you don't cuff up, we will come in on you and use oc. >> [ bleep ]. come and get me. come and get me. coming up, the extraction team moves in. and later -- >> this is your maximum security unit inside of a maximum security prison. >> killing time in the hole. >> i'm being accused of attempted murder to a staff. [ bleep ] d at the coffee shop, so i get 2 times the points. and those points add up fast. so, sure, make me the grunt. 'cause i'll be using those points to help me get to a beach in miami. and allllllll the big shots will be stuck here at the cube farm. the citi thankyou preferred card. now earn 2x the points on dining out and entertainment with no annual fee.to apply, go to citi.com/thankyoucards we're aig. and we're here. to help secure retirements and protect financial futures. to help communities recover and rebuild. for companies going from garage to global.
on the ground, in the air, even into space. we repaid every dollar america lent us. and gave america back a profit. we're here to keep our promises. to help you realize a better tomorrow. from the families of aig happy holidays. ♪ i wanna spread a little love this year ♪ [ male announcer ] this december, experience the gift of true artistry and some of the best offers of the year at the lexus december to remember sales event. this is the pursuit of perfection. [ male announcer ] here's a question for you: the energy in one gallon of gas is also enough to keep your smartphone running for how long? 30 days? 300 days? 3,000 days? the answer is... 3,000 days. because of gasoline's high energy density, your car doesn't have to carry as much fuel compared to other energy sources. take the energy
>> with blevins refusing orders to cuff up, it's up to the prison's special response team to forcefully remove him from his cell so that he can be given his medication. first, they attempt to subdue him with pepper spray. >> mr. blevins, cuff up. >> the burning spray eventually brings compliance. >> ah! >> blevins is removed from his cell and sedated. he is strapped into a restraint chair and watched until he no longer poses a threat to himself. >> mr. blevins, do you have any injuries you want to report? no?
>> never crossed my mind one time other than to tell someone that i'm not interested in doing it. you know? >> today, spring creek staff uses medication and therapy to help blevins serve his 45-year sentence. >> even though he's done a horrible double murder, he's still a person and he has to have some kind of human contact. so what i try to focus on is just a relationship. we try to be alert to prisoners' mental status, to make sure they're not thinking of harming themselves or someone else. beyond that, we try to help them be together enough to serve their time and serve it as quietly and peacefully as possible. >> serving time quietly and peacefully is exactly how we found ramona rosario. in the gym at the north carolina correctional institution for women. she was a long way from home. >> i'm originally from dominican republic. i live in new york city. and that was my first time that
i come to north carolina and i got in trouble. >> seven years earlier, rosario agreed to carry a package for a friend. she's now serving 18 to 24 years for trafficking heroin. >> i don't know anyone down here. i need to go home and be with my children. my children need me, and i think i have done enough time. >> rosario told us that she had one source of comfort from the seemingly endless amount of time she must be away from home. then she showed us what it was. ♪ amazing grace how sweet the sound ♪ ♪ that saved a wretch like me ♪ i like to sing. i've been singing since i was little. i remember when i used to sing in my country when i was like 5, 6 years old.
i've been singing a long time. now i have to sing in here. ♪ my mother, she sing beautiful, and i think it's the talent in the family. ♪ >> but not all inmates make such harmonious use of their time or their voices. [ bleep ] >> i wish death on all you [ bleep ]. >> at iowa state penitentiary, our crew went inside the unit that houses the state's most chronic offenders, cell house 220. known inside the walls as the hole. >> shut up!
[ bleep ] you. >> this is unit cell house 220, the disciplinary detention unit for long-term disciplinary detention inmates. this is your maximum security unit inside of a maximum security prison. here's where we house all the disciplinary detention inmates that couldn't be handled in our general population area. now we have to deal with them over here. >> the co's told us these inmates are among the most incorrigible of all inmates within the prison. and my observation was that they seemed to be lacking in the ability to restrain their impulsive behavior. >> i'm in here for cutting myself and stuff like that. getting a bunch of reports for flooding my cell and stuff like that. >> and some are in for more violent deeds. our female producer was warned to keep a safe distance from luis nieves. >> just don't get too close. >> i'm being accused of attempted murder to the staff. >> nieves is known at iowa state as the monster.
he was appealing a murder conviction when we met him. >> were your victims or alleged victims mostly women or all women or what? >> i'm not allowed to say that. >> convicted of brutally killing a woman on the outside, he's in disciplinary detention for viciously assaulting a female prison worker. he claims the charges were made up. >> sometimes they got to cover their ass. they don't want to lose their pretty job. without this job, they ain't nothing. on the other hand, job or no job, i'm still going to be the same individual. >> do you consider yourself a totally innocent man? >> i'm not an angel, i can tell you that. but i'm not a monster like everybody tells me to be. >> in the cell next to nieves, we met robert harris. >> it's bad. all there is to do in here is -- you got to listen to other people banging on stuff, officers constantly running in on them and cussing. just a lot of crazy stuff. you know, what i call thugs. there's always bugging out, always somebody causing trouble in the cell house. >> harris is serving ten years for forgery in order to obtain prescription narcotics. it's his behavior inside the institution that keeps him in 220. >> i'm in here on like three assaults.
>> in fact, just days before our crew arrived, harris assaulted an officer escorting him to the shower. >> putting urine in a cup, mixing shampoo with it, he was in the shower taking a shower, takes it and throws it in the officer's face when the officer comes by. >> because i was so mad. right? i just wanted to prove to them there ain't nothing they can do to me or make me do what they want me to do. >> i don't want you to think every inmate we have in here is raising hell and causing problems. but there is a goodly number that is doing that. >> and for many of these inmates, killing time becomes cruel sport. our cameras rolled as they unleashed a seemingly endless
barrage of insults on each other. >> hey, brian, you talk about how you suck [ bleep ] out at the rec pen. hey -- >> you show your [ bleep ]? >> he's really in here for prostitution. >> this is a very harsh environment for them because the other inmates will egg them on. they're very easily persuaded. >> you're special, brian. >> pants down and show all the inmates' butts. >> when i get out to the yard and i see these people out there, i'm going to smash them. that's what it all amounts to. up next -- >> you don't feel like you're going to hurt anybody else? >> no. >> okay. >> the inmates in iowa's cell house 220 greet a new young arrival with taunts and threats.
>> i'm scared to death where i'm at because i don't know what's going to happen. >> but this new inmate might be more dangerous than he looks. and you...rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle... and go. you can even take a full-size or above, and still pay the mid-size price. (natalie) ooooh, i like your style. (vo) so do we, business pro. so do we. go national. go like a pro. [ male announcer ] here's a question for you: where does the united states get most of its energy? is it africa? the middle east? canada? or the u.s.? the answer is... the u.s. ♪ ♪ most of
america's energy comes from right here at home. take the energy quiz. energy lives here. you're giving away pie? would you like apple or cherry? cherry. oil...or cream? definitely cream. [ male announcer ] never made with hydrogenated oil. oh, yeah. [ male announcer ] always made with real cream. the sound of reddi wip is the sound of joy. this is the quicksilver cash back card from capital one. it's not
the "fumbling around with rotating categories" card. it's not the "getting blindsided by limits" card. it's the no-game-playing, no-earning-limit-having, deep-bomb-throwing give-me-the-ball-and-i'll-take- it-to-the-house, cash back card. this is the quicksilver cash card from capital one. unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, everywhere, every single day. so let me ask you... what's in your wallet? cell house 220 at iowa state penitentiary houses the most
disruptive inmates in the entire state. this is administrative segregation, also known as ad seg. >> the first time i entered ad seg, i was completely blown away by the cacophony of noise. every single prisoner seemed to be screaming at the top of their lungs and every single scream was an insult directed toward someone else. >> iowa state penitentiary is a maximum security institution, and there are challenges every day just by a virtue of the type of inmate we have here. many are here because of their lengthy sentences but an awful lot of them are here by virtue of their conduct at other prisons. this is the end of the road for them.
>> and our cameras were rolling as the latest van full of trouble arrived. >> we're expecting 12 inmates coming in. they'll be processed in, their photos taken, height and weight and they'll be processed and sent to the appropriate cell houses. >> among those on their way to cell house 220 is jeremy fickling, a baby-faced inmate with a penchant for violence. fickling is serving four years for assaulting a police officer. he was transferred to iowa state for allegedly throwing bodily fluids on a correctional officer. >> you don't feel like you're going to hurt anybody else? >> no. >> if things change, you're feeling bad, feeling like you might hurt yourself or somebody else, you need to tell the officers, okay? all right. >> despite his sheepish demeanor, officers aren't about to take any chances. a police dog escorts fickling all the way to 220. >> some of the inmates are assaultive. that's why they're here, a little extra security. >> entering the unit, fickling is both a new topic of
conversation and a new target. >> hey buddy. who is this? >> jeremy. >> from anamosa? where's he at now? >> a-2. >> they got the camera on him? >> yeah. >> don't do it, jeremy. it's a setup. don't do it. >> tell me what's been going on since you've been in prison. where did you come from today? >> i came from state anamosa penitentiary. due to an inmate causing some problems. they accused me of throwing -- >> hang on. hang on. >> as our cameras roll, fickling's new neighbors continually attempt to disrupt the interview. >> i'm scared to death where i'm at because i don't know what's going to happen. you know. supposedly they say this is the worst penitentiary in iowa. >> but as we learned later,
fickling's new neighbors have equal cause to be wary of him. >> the reason i'm mainly in lockup is because i got in a fight. that was my original thing while i was in ft. dodge. i assaulted an officer with urine and feces. >> i don't want to sound ignorant. how do you use your bodily fluids and throw it on somebody? >> i mean -- i used a cup. i mean, there's crazier inmates. they'll put [ bleep ] in their hand and throw it at you. i mean, you got inmates that will smear it on the walls and write graffiti. it just depends on what your mind frame is. that's not me. you know. i don't do that kind of thing, because, i mean, that shows like a little kid, you know, a little kid playing in the toilet or something. it's not a grown man thing, you know? but obviously i couldn't get to him, and he kept disrespecting me on the range. so i just dumped in my toilet. there was some pissy water in there and i winged it on him. water, whatever was in my toilet at the time that i done it. >> as we concluded our interview, cell house 220 was finally calm. but fickling's final words to us indicated things might not remain so. >> me, i don't know, i'll probably mess up somewhere along the line, you know. it's not easy doing time. next on "lockup: raw" --
>> it's just a bunch of evil, crazy stuff because i was going through stuff at the time. >> it might be illegal, but slinging ink runs rampant in prison. >> that's the first thing they do when they come in here is tattoo their body up. humans. even when we cross our t's and dot our i's, we still run into problems. namely, other humans. which is why at liberty mutual insurance, auto policies come with new car replacement and accident forgiveness if you qualify. see what else comes standard at libertymutual.com. liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy?
♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] your eyes. even at a distance of 10 miles... the length of 146 football fields... they can see the light of a single candle. your eyes are amazing. look after them with centrum silver. multivitamins with lutein and vitamins a, c, and e to support healthy eyes and packed with key nutrients to support your heart and brain, too. centrum silver. for the most amazing parts of you. ♪♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] what kind of energy is so abundant it can help provide the power for all this? natural gas. ♪ ♪ more than ever before america's electricity is generated by it. exxonmobil uses advanced visualization and drilling technologies to produce natural gas... powering our lives...
while reducing emissions by up to 60%. energy lives here. ♪ ♪ merry christmas to you. here is what is happening. three siblings died in a mobile home fire in louisiana this christmas. the children's father saved a fourth child. but both parents suffered serious burns trying to rescue their family. >> the u.s. state department condemned a series of deadly bombings inside baghdad. which targeted christians celebrating christmas. >> egypt's military backed leaders declared muslim brotherhood a terror group, the move comes after officials blame the brotherhood for a bombing
near cairo. now back to "lockup." due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. behind bars, tattooing is more than a favorite pastime, it's a passion, if not an addiction in every prison we visited. >> that's the first thing they do when they come in here, tattoo their body up. >> tattooing's cool. it's a fun thing to do. >> some of them don't make a bit of sense but they have them on there, they're covered. they all want them. >> i've got a couple years on a grave stone down here, a couple of my prison years, just a bunch of evil, crazy stay stuff. i was going through a bunch of stuff at that time.
>> go to almost any prison in america and you'll find an amazing assortment of tattoos. >> it's gotten to a point where we have a standard question that our field producers ask the inmates. can you tell me about your tats? >> as you can see, i'm tattooed up. i'm from south vallejo. i represent south vallejo, always have, always will. 707, solana county. >> done by a good friend of mine. his name's carlos. this is joey. good homies, you know? >> i got all of my dead homies on my stomach, on my chest, on my forearms. all dead on me. joe joe, nicky, melody, harper. little bobby. you know, so on and so forth. >> the one that means a lot to me is the one on the back. the guy is dead though. he got out of prison and did an overdose. joseph did this, came back for 36 years. caught his lady in bed with somebody else. he came back. >> the three stars, i won't tell you about that. >> they may list their street gang or their neighborhood where they gang-banged on the streets. >> the whole tattoo thing really needs to be evaluated on an
individual level. you ask me, i tell you what mine mean. someone else may mean something else. used to be you went to prison, you put spiderwebs on your arms. nowadays, certain gangs are using spiderwebs as murder symbols. >> lot of people trip out on it. that's just a part of life. >> are there messages in here? >> a lot of evil stuff. i like kicking it out there with the vipers and stuff. back on up, you know what i mean? i can beat you down, show no mercy on you, that's for sure. because i don't even know you. disrespect me or somebody's going to come up to me and try to jack me up, i'll get them first, you know what i mean? it's every man for himself. >> but some prison tattoos can cause trouble. that's what charles pelham, an inmate at san quentin discovered about the tattoo on his forehead. but first, we asked about his
missing leg. >> i had an accident, i fell off of a moving freight train and the wheel ran over me, crushed my foot. >> then he showed us the troublesome tattoo. >> it's a tattoo of a nazi flag. you know, it's supposed to mean that i represent the nazi clan. the rest of the brothers of the lodge, so to speak. i had this put on my face when i was a youngster. you understand? i wanted to make a political statement. i also wanted to impress my girlfriend, but it impressed her the wrong way and she got rid of me. >> why do you wear the hat? >> because there's people in here that tell me the thing on my face is not cool and they don't want to have to look at it. so i wear the hat and that's peace in the valley. does that explain anything? >> but none of our crews ever had a tattoo encounter quite like the one at utah state prison. >> i will never forget the
moment that i first set eyes on curtis algire. it's really quite shocking to see the ss lightning bolts, swastikas, nazi imagery, and with the tattoos all over his face, first time i saw him peeking out of that cell i was definitely intimidated. >> curtis algire and his cousin tony peak were covered head to toe in tattoos. many of which were applied by algire, himself. >> i do my whole face, my left arm, my legs, my stomach. >> how do you deal with the pain? >> when you do it yourself, it's not near as bad. >> in the prison system, we do not authorize or condone tattooing. but the inmates are very creative. they come up with methods to do it. >> it's a serious enough violation that it can land an
inmate in the hole for months. >> i just did 14 months in the hole. >> why? >> for tattooing. >> prison tattoos are applied with crude but ingenious homemade tat guns and ink that are often confiscated during cell searches. >> this here is several vials of ink and a homemade tattoo gun. >> they make their own tattoo guns out of electronic motors from portable radios or tape players. >> they get a motor, find a battery or electrical socket or something to drive this. >> spin the needle and it will go back and forth. >> we used to always joke if we were to ever accidentally leave a camera in prison overnight, that when we came back in the morning, it would be 15 tattoo guns. >> before being sent to the hole for practicing his craft, roger bosheres was a prolific tattoo artist at the spring creek correctional center in alaska. he feels punishing tattoo artists is to not recognize an opportunity. >> right now, if you get caught tattooing, you run the risk of getting in trouble. plus, i mean, it's not as clean
as it could be. it's a highly sterilized process on the streets. all the shops and stuff, it's very clinical. i mean, yeah, we clean things as best we can. but kind of ramshackle materials we have to use, pens and guitar strings and such. we don't have the autoclaves and sonic sterilizers and that stuff they have out there on the streets. new needles, stuff like that. i would like them to let us do tattoos, let us have all the classes, you know the proper sterilizations techniques. it's a part of the prison culture. it's a big part of the culture. it's a legitimate trade on the streets, and if they would promote it here, it would be a pretty good trade. people would get out of here licensed. you have to apprentice under somebody for two years before you can even tattoo, yourself, out there. but if we get that done here, people can get out, go out there, make money legitimately. i think if they just let us do it, it would be a really positive thing. coming up on "lockup: raw" -- >> if i wanted to be a political columnist like george will -- not necessarily his politics -- sorry, george. >> one inmate kills time with current events. >> people talking about fema, i read about katrina responses. president bush and his budget cuts.
you'd be surprised, we discuss the things in here. and later -- steel bars give way to heavy metal. ♪ is also enough to keep your smartphone running for how long? 30 days? 300 days? 3,000 days? the answer is... 3,000 days. because of gasoline's high energy density, your car doesn't have to carry as much fuel compared to other energy sources. take the energy quiz. energy lives here.
♪♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] welcome back all the sweet things your family loves with 0-calorie monk fruit in the raw. ♪ welcome back ♪ [ male announcer ] it's made with the natural vine-ripened sweetness of fruit so you can serve up deliciously sweet treats without all the sugar. so let no drink go unsweetened. no spatula un-licked. and no last bit un-sipped. you don't have to throw a party, but you'll probably feel like celebrating.
raw natural sweetness, raw natural success. it's monday at california's kern valley state prison. for inmate marcus armstrong, that means it's laundry day. >> a lot of guys don't trust the laundry. we do the laundry ourselves. some do it in the sink. me, i do it in the shower so i can really get it clean. soap it up, rinse it out, wring it out. get a little workout in the meantime. good as new after two hours. just like mamma taught me.
>> it's also the best night for television. >> monday night, primetime tv come on and i watch the primetime shows. my favorite shows right now are "24," "smallville," "grey's anatomy," "desperate housewives." you know what i'm saying? i love you bree. >> armstrong's weekly routine will continue indefinitely. he's serving 25 years to life for first-degree murder. >> sometimes i can see the victim in my case when i'm walking, you know what i'm saying? it's like demons that never go away. i have dreams about it, you know? >> the victim was a friend who learned that armstrong was
involved in drug dealing and credit card fraud. >> she was an ex-girlfriend of mine, but we still lived together at the time. so at the time i guess you could say she was a roommate, you know what i'm saying? she was finding out what i was doing. it started infringing on her life. and she started getting scared and tried to stop me and didn't listen. and there's been this discrepancy as to what she was going to the police and talking about and who she was telling who i was involved with. and it led to her -- i can't even phrase it. it shouldn't have happened, what happened to her shouldn't have happened to her. >> armstrong told us he chose to plead guilty even though he wasn't the hit man. >> i knew what happened. i was definitely complicit. i could have stopped it and i didn't. i can't blame anybody but myself personally. my mom and dad are married. i am from the inner city but it was in the good part of the inner city. went to one of the best schools in the bay area, saint francis high school. mostly middle class families. i don't have no excuse for being here. >> once in prison, armstrong earned an additional six-year sentence. >> the sergeant sprayed a guy in a wheelchair for no reason. i didn't like it and i harmed him. >> what does that mean? >> physically hurt him. >> and what happened? >> other police came and they physically hurt me back. >> that impulse to defend
disabled inmates is now a key part of how he spends his long days in prison. >> i'm an a.d.a. supporter. that means i help the wheelchair people, anybody that have canes, wheelchairs, whatever and i'm also a slash porter. i keep the pod clean. in the morning, sweep the pods, clean the windows, whatever. keep everything clean. once i get that done, i go to the wheelchair guys and see if they need anything done. i'll keep their wheelchairs clean. push them to chow, push them to the yard, push them back. >> but at the end of the day, armstrong still faces the grinding monotony of life in a small two-man cell. >> the emotional toll here, it's like water torture. i compare it to that. every day it's like a drip, drip, drip. it's like you got sentenced. if i got out of here tomorrow, i know i would not come back. i honestly say if i got there tomorrow i know i would not come back. i don't deserve to come back tomorrow. i can honestly tell you, unless i go to the parole board and i'm 43, i would tell them, i don't
deserve to be back out there because i took a life. karma really has something to give me, i'm going to take it. >> armstrong may be killing time behind bars, but he hasn't lost his passion for current events. >> i read newspapers, magazines. i get "tv guide," "xxl," "rolling stone," "newsweek," "blender." i get nine periodicals. i was going to major in english and political science. if i didn't make it in basketball, i wanted to be a political columnist. like george will -- not necessarily his politics. sorry george. i watch abc news, i see george stephanopoulos talking. i see that dude on fox, the a-hole. >> bill o'reilly? >> yeah. bill o'reilly. and i see your colleague, tom brokaw. that's what i wanted to get into. i love politics. you know what i'm saying?
i see the katrina response. i see people talking about fema. i read about president bush and his budget cuts. that gets my juices going. >> and in prison, he's discovered a captive audience for his brand of political punditry. >> i have a subscription to "usa today" and i have a line. i let everybody read it. i write little comments. you'd be surprised, we discuss things in here. everything in prison is not just violence or gangs. we discuss issues. people are surprised the conversations we have in here, you know what i'm saying? >> he tried out some spin in response to an unexpected line of questioning from our producer on the pin-ups decorating his cell. >> are these all your girlfriends? >> in another lifetime. most of them come out of "xxl" magazine. minority based magazines. kind of like "maxim." but sided toward the hip hop minority community. get tired of looking at gray walls all day.
they're not nude, they're all clothed, albeit scantily. >> they're very artistic, marcus. it's nice you represent minorities, but it's not so nice about women. not so nice about women. >> it's a bit misogynist. i'm going on 11 years, right, and all i dealt with is men, so this is an escape so to speak. it's blunt, you know what i'm saying? but you'd be surprised -- myself personally, i read a lot of stuff to keep my mind -- if i got another chance out there, i'm going to respect a woman. i'm not going to just objectify her. >> i'm just giving you a hard time. >> that's cool. >> during our interview, armstrong saw a chance for his social commentary to reach a broader audience and he went for it. >> a lot of people in here are drug offenders, three strikes, nonviolent. i really believe there should be something done for rehabilitation. you know, it could be such a new thing now, cdcr. if they get to the "r" part, they're not rehabilitating anybody. there's no education.
i come from a school background. you got the internet out there. you got, you know, technology, you know, people, i got the tomorrow and i'm pretty intelligent. if i got out there tomorrow i would be lost. think of these guys with fifth grade educations here. a lot of guys came here, level four. getting out, they're not equipped to deal with society. i always hear the christian right talking about religion. you know what i'm saying? jesus went to the lowest to low to preach. if you reach these guys, they'll be your most powerful warriors to push your agenda. you'd be surprised. give some of these guys a chance. i'm through. i don't deserve a chance. but a lot of these guys deserve a chance. you'd be surprised. that's all i have to say. up next -- >> it's what keeps me sane. >> when inmates rage against the machine. ♪ >> instead of taking it out on anybody, i take it out on miss purdy. cooped up in small cells, where does the united states get most of its energy? is it africa? the middle east? canada? or
the u.s.? the answer is... the u.s. ♪ ♪ most of america's energy comes from right here at home. take the energy quiz. energy lives here. we're aig. and we're here. to help secure retirements and protect financial futures. to help communities recover and rebuild. for companies going from garage to global. on the ground, in the air, even into space. we repaid every dollar america lent us. and gave america back a profit. we're here to keep our promises. to help you realize a better tomorrow. from the families of aig happy holidays.
cooped up in small cells, rarely seen beyond prison walls and razor wire, doing time inevitably takes a toll. >> as crowded as this place is, there's a lot of tension. seems like no matter where you go, you're bumping into someone. you know, and that really wears on you after a while. you know, you got to get away from it. >> inmate tommy miser never told us what landed him in iowa's anamosa state penitentiary, but when he showed us what he does to escape, it blew our crew away. ♪ anamosa is one of two prisons we visited with a music room fully stocked with instruments. inmates who earn the privilege
come here to jam. >> it's like my pacifier. it keeps me level. keeps me from getting angry all the time and keeps me from doing something stupid. so i've got this to look forward to. ♪ >> miser and his band mates practice once a week and they wanted us to know one thing -- they're no cover band. >> we write all our own songs. tommy writes all the music, i write the lyrics. >> we all need each other to make this band happen. if one of us gets locked up for stupid stuff on the yard, that's the band. mainly, the guitar player, there's only a few around here that plays as good as he does. ♪ >> the band room has other benefits as well. >> it just takes you away from prison.
you're no longer in prison up here. it's just like you're in a club somewhere or a concert and you forget about what's going on out there and you forget about your six-by-eight cell and lockdown and all that stuff. you just forget about it. >> it's what keeps me sane. ♪ >> i've seen some great players come and go. a lot of them have learned their craft right here as well. they start with nothing, they have no knowledge but it's amazing to see how far they've come up in the ten years or five years that they do it. >> craig campbell has been running anamosa's music program for over 25 years. >> i mean, the music is all over the map. and we have the mexican bands and we have the rap.
we have an asian group for lack of a better word. we just have rock 'n' roll and all the original sounds and they all have to come and work within a small, confined space. >> to me, music is what takes me to a whole different level. keeps me out of trouble. my home is here basically. create my own beats, my own music, my own lyrics. it's just fun for me. >> it's amazing. i think we're probably the melting pot of the institution. ♪ >> i believe as a whole you would get along a lot better if we explore music and stop putting labels on it, white music, black music. music. there's only seven notes. a, b, c, d, e, f, g. music is the key.
everybody needs to just mellow out and relax, man. >> one, two, three. >> we met jesse delstanford working at the only other band room our crew has visited at kentucky state penitentiary. >> i get mad sometimes. i get angry. but instead of taking it out on anybody, i take it out on miss purdy. ♪ >> why the name? >> why the name? because she is purdy. she is purdy. she is my favorite color, blue. >> convicted of robbery, kidnapping and murder, stanford began serving his 390-year sentence in 1985. but instead of counting the days, he keeps time his own way. >> it just oozes from my pores, man. music is all i have. nothing else is going to last. music is always going to be there for me. >> those guys are really good.
and we had a long schedule of events that day. but once we got out of the band room, we started filming, we kind of lost ourselves. the guys were jamming out and we just didn't really want to leave. actually at one point our production assistant got up and sang with the fellows for a little while. >> your heartbeat is your rhythm. you've always got that rhythm. what you add on to that rhythm, that's up to you. you know what i'm saying? they cannot take that. there is no way. they can take all of the speakers, the drums, the microphones and all the stuff
that they want to, but i still have this. and i've still got this and i can hum and i can sing, i can jump up and i can dance. they cannot take music. and the only way they can ever take your soul is if you give it to them. ♪ due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. where do you want me? >> a brutal stabbing puts the prison on edge. >> will it be a thorough one? >> a brash new inmate gets taken down a notch. >> it ain't your business to take care of that, man. >> two buddies do their time