tv Lockup MSNBC May 28, 2016 12:00am-1:01am PDT
that's our report. thanks for watching. i'm john seigenthale due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. there are 2 million people behind bars in america. we open the gates. "lockup." >> you never know who's out here to get you. >> i'm not supposed to be here! >> everything builds because of this constant pressure. >> there are times where the hair stands up on the back of your neck. >> i do something to you, what's the worst they can do to me? >> i was signing. that's how i communicate with the men. >> it wasn't planned. i didn't realize what i was doing. >> i chose to be executed by firing squad. >> you stick with your gangs, who you know and where you're
safe. >> all i'm trying to do is survive. >> over the past 20 years, america's get tough on crime policies have forced an evolution in the way prisons operate. with fewer resources and an ever-growing inmate population, institutions must constantly adapt to deal with the growing threats of violence and gangs before they rage out of control. we're about to take you inside utah state prison, the largest maximum security facility in the state, with nearly 4,000 inmates. more than 400 of whom are women. it is noteworthy because utah is one of only three states that still executes some of its inmates by firing squad. utah also has one of the most violent inmate populations in the country. >> you have to watch your back every day. it's dangerous. you never know when you're going to get stabbed. or someone going to rush you in your cell, get you then, beat
you down. it's hard. yeah. prison is very violent. >> in the shadow of the wasatch mountains, just south of salt lake city, lies utah state prison, or usp. originally built in 1951, this enormous institution has grown to cover over 680 acres. >> i've been at the utah state prison for over 25 years. and during that time we have gone from 1,200 inmates to almost 4,000 here. >> warden clint friel is tasked with the responsibility of running seven different facilities that house every variety of inmates. from gang units, to female offenders to death row, usp holds it all. the facilities at usp have earned their monikers from the
surrounding mountain ranges with names like wasatch, oqirrh, timpanogos and uinta. building uinta-5 houses the prison's receiving and orientation, or r&o. >> uinta-5 is probably a time when they are most afraid. it's when they first hear the slamming of the doors, see the officers. and it can be a very difficult time for the inmates. >> after 20 years in the corrections business, lieutenant dale whitney knows that the first few moments with an inmate can be the most dangerous. >> we don't know when these guys came in what their crimes are, if they're coming down off some kind of drugs. we don't know what their mental state is. >> anything you are allowed to have, you'll get back. it will be letters, photos, legal papers. basically, that's it. >> our intake officer will take them one at a time back into a
strip room and strip them down, do a visual cavity search. >> searching all that too? >> yep. >> they try to do it with a level of dignity and respect so as not to make the person uncomfortable. >> bend over. spread your butt cheeks. okay. thank you. what size of underwear? >> after receiving their prison-issued jumpsuit, shoes, socks, and toilet kit, each inmate's property is inventoried. >> i honestly don't think my life was that messed up. i lived a basic, normal life of an everyday, normal human being. i had a problem with drugs. >> galin sisneros is at usp for possession of a controlled substance. >> i don't want to come in here with no chip on my shoulder. thinking i'm going to take on everybody, because i know that's not going to happen. i just really want to keep my head down, stay out of trouble, and try to get through this as fast as possible, you know. >> each inmate is photographed, with special attention paid to their tattoos. >> one of the reasons is to document what kinds of
activities they may be involved in while they're inside the institution. for instance, if they belong to some sort of white supremacist gang, hispanic gang, asian gang. >> ever been diagnosed with an std? >> no. >> ever had sex with an iv drug user? >> no. >> each inmate is given a thorough medical screening to determine their medical history and prevent the spread of disease. the inmates will spend most of their first day in this holding cell, named the library after its former purpose. it's here the inmates will have their first prison meal. >> a lot better than where i just came from, that's for sure. >> i was told it would actually be a lot better. after the population started getting worse and worse, the food started getting worse. >> randy russell is no stranger to usp. he first came in at the age of 15 and did 17 years on a robbery charge. >> randy, it's not good to see you. okay? >> now, randy's back on a parole
violation, leaving behind a wife and four children. >> at one time when i thought i was going to come back i even asked my wife, should i run? she goes, i'm not going to make that call, she goes, but you can't take me with you. if i'm not with my wife and my kids, freedom's just not freedom anyway. >> grab that and come with me. >> andrew dykman is in for statutory rape. unlike randy, coming to prison for andrew is a new and frightening experience. >> i'm pretty nervous. and i'm scared. i wasn't expecting to be here. it's a scary place. and i've heard stories about what goes on at night here. i've heard stories about people getting killed. you name it. >> dykman. >> in order to properly classify the inmates, they will spend several weeks on the cell block as their behavior is observed. because they must be considered a security threat until
classified otherwise, these new arrivals will remain locked down 23 hours a day. >> i'm not supposed to be here! >> this is the hardest part because you're in here with very little to do. you sleep, you eat. and you sleep some more. and you eat some more. basically, what we got here, kill time with playing 10,000. what did you make them out of? >> basically toilet paper. just mold them up. after that, i draw them. >> then we make dominos. we have our dominos made out of soap. >> it's lucky because both of us want to exercise. sometimes you get with a celly that doesn't want to exercise. it's nice to have somebody that does because then you can use their body weight. >> you want to not look over your back as much. if you stay physically fit, they'll leave their hands off of you. you don't want to end up somebody's girl or something like that in here.
>> it will be a long time before most of these inmates will be released. for now, home is an 8x12 cell with little to do but contemplate their crime. we'll check back with these inmates to see how the first week inside usp has affected them. >> you know, it's cold and it's depressing. you know, this is the worst but you have to do it. you've got to do your time and be strong about it. there's nothing you can do but face your fears. up next -- >> what else do you do with an inmate that constantly stabs his roommate? >> inside the world of a monster. we needed 30 new hires for our call center. i'm spending too much time hiring and not enough time in my kitchen.
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you can go insane over here. and you see a lot of people like that. after they've been over here a long time, they just withdraw into themselves and they start hating everybody. >> separated from the rest of general population is usp's uinta-1 facility. >> our uinta-1 is a super maximum security. basically, this is a jail inside the prison. >> lieutenant jeff myers has served at usp for over 25 years, including six in uinta-1. >> we have inmates that have shown very negative behavior in other housing units. they have assaulted their roommate, they have assaulted staff. they have tried to escape. so this is it. this is end of the road. >> in this unit, inmates are single celled to reduce chance of assaults. there are also units called intensive management, where
extreme measures are required when dealing with inmates. these men are only allowed one 20-minute shower every other day and one hour of exercise a week, alone, in a small, concrete yard. sandbags are used to prevent inmates from flooding the cells with the water from their sinks or toilets. shields are required to protect officers while serving meals. signs designate certain inmates as spitters or slimers, those who throw urine or feces at officers. >> we had an incident not too long ago, where the inmate reached out through the cuff port, stabbed one of our staff, one of our officers. so now whenever the cuff port comes down, the staff will always put the shield in front of the cuff port to make sure no foreign object comes out of the cell to hurt our staff. >> should an assault occur, officers are armed with an arsenal of pepper spray, a pepper ball gun, and, if necessary, lethal power.
>> these officers come here every day. and they put their life on the line, or they put up with not only verbal abuse, but physical abuse and mental abuse. >> in the name of jesus, you need to come and check it out. >> with all of the different personalities and crimes, couple that with having nothing to do, it is a pressure cooker. >> paul payne is serving up to 15 years on 11 different counts, including aggravated assault, kidnapping, and escape. he was transferred to uinta-1 for being involved in a murder at another utah prison. >> everything builds because of this constant pressure. and then eventually everybody pops off. and it's just, you know, it's like popcorn. it doesn't go off at the same time. it's one here, one there. >> harassment, torture. >> being here for 15 years seems like a waste. you know, i could have went to college. you know, that was my plans. and i mean, it was just -- everything got thrown off track. >> what else do you do with an inmate that constantly stabs his roommate?
paul payne has a track record. not just violence. chronic, terrible violence. >> thomas headley is in unita-1 for his own protection. >> because i was a member of the mormon church and a sex offender. this individual decided he was going to beat the living crap out of me and in the process of it, decided he was going to kill me. >> he's serving 15 years. >> they have been holding me in the section that they're in right now because i absolutely refuse to be housed among people that are going to cause me harm. >> about a quarter of usp's 4,000 inmates are sex offenders. most, like thomas, have been targeted for their crimes. >> we're constantly finding them assaulted. we're constantly finding them extorted. >> i've got a safety list that's got at least 20 names on it with people that told me in no uncertain terms, you're a dead man if we ever get our hands on you. i admitted to having an improper sexual relationship with this
girl. she was 14. i am a man that is attracted to young women, god forbid. i have 16 months left to go. and all i'm trying to do is survive. >> steven johnson was convicted of killing a rival in a gang fight. >> i'm currently incarcerated for first degree murder. i struggle every day. it's a battle that must be won. i'm going to win it. >> steven isn't up for parole until 2021. with an ailing mother, steven's crime could be more costly than he ever could have predicted. >> there's mom. i got mom right here. and mom -- keep her close to my heart. she's with me every day. i hurt every day to think about the past that i led. and to sit here and think every day of my life.
and every day to wake up and look at concrete walls and steel bed and knowing that you don't have no loved ones there that you can embrace is probably the hardest thing that an individual can go through. coming up, life inside utah state's general population and the code its convicts live by. >> they got their rules. we got ours, you know?
>> at utah state prison, the bulk of general population is housed in what is called the wasatch facility. with its four tiers and old-fashioned crank sliding doors, this unit is a flashback to the past. >> i like the old school. you've got the noises that yore used to. >> sergeant dan herring is in charge of a-block east. >> it was the first block built and used. used to be the old max. now it houses medium security. >> this one's better because it's single cell. and there's a more relaxed atmosphere. >> jessie walker is serving up to five years for aggravated sexual assault. he's known as jazz by his fellow tiermates. >> my first couple of months, i didn't think i could make it this long. i never seen myself be here for a year. i thought i was going to crumble up and die, you know.
>> on a-east, there are only two officers to manage 95 inmates. >> it's almost like a college of psychology. deviant and otherwise. you learn a lot about people, their movement, their eyes. things that tell on them. i'd be a liar if i didn't say that there are times where the hair stands up on the back of your neck. but that just goes with the job. >> with the numbers heavily in their favor, many inmates see themselves in the position of power. >> they're only in there to make sure nothing major goes on. other than that, inmates run everything else. >> yeah, they can take the block. but they're not going anywhere. >> they got their rules. we got ours. you know? there's a code of conduct in here that you got to follow if you want to make your time easy. >> the criminal code is simply that they do not want us to know what is going on.
>> you don't rat on people. >> and if you snitch, there's going to be severe consequences. >> usp has separated inmates based on behavior. most of the inmates on a-east are classified as kappas. >> the kappa inmates are those inmates who exhibit aggressive type of behavior, and are most likely the inmates who are going to prey on the weaker inmates. >> i got aggravated assault. so any time you come in here on violence, you're automatically a kappa. because if you can do it out there, you can do it in here. is what they figure. if you're a kappa, you'll get along with these people. you know street rules. if you're weak, you ain't going to have no fun. period. >> if they don't like somebody that's in here, they won't let somebody in their section. >> they'll get moved. >> they'll get moved. they will straight out be told, get yourself out to the pod and get moved. >> you're not welcome on the block. >> there is a pecking order that they go by. as far as them moving other inmates off the block, it happens. >> this is life. this is the consequences for being --
>> if you look up, the fourth deck's pretty high, you know? people take an elevator ride. problem is, there ain't no elevator. the fall doesn't hurt them. it's the sudden stop at the end. >> the inmates have created their own hierarchy in this unit based on their own form of respect. the old-timers live on the top tier. >> a lot of them respect me. not because they're scared of me but because i've been a lot of time in here. >> tony duran is one of the influential inmates on a-east. he's been in and out of prison for 20 years for robbery and burglary. >> murderers, robbers, they're up here. child molesters, rapos, they're down here. it's a food chain, you know? everything is about respect in this place. how you carry yourself determines how you live. this joint here ain't like the rest of them. see, when i first got here in '84, convicts used to run this joint. the man runs this joint now.
what i mean by the man is the system. >> we run the prison. we have the towers. we have the fences. and we keep control of the inmates. >> to crack down on contraband and violence, usp instituted a policy of controlled movement. no two cell blocks are ever in the same common areas at the same time. >> things are changing over there. this place now, it's that new mentality with get tough on crime. it's kind of working, man, because, you know, they ain't messing around no more, man. they want to build more prisons. they want to keep us down. and they're doing it. >> the system of controlled movement has significantly reduced the level of violence at usp. >> it's not like, you know, people getting stabbed and murdered all the time. fights and things do happen in here. you know what i mean? but it's not like every day. >> the guy in here is going to be preying on the one at the bottom. it happens everywhere. but it's a little more controlled now. >> we take care of our own.
utah state prison is an institution in flux, constantly adjusting to the changes in the state's evolving criminal landscape, especially the trend of younger and more violent inmates coming into the system. many of these men also come to the prison affiliated with a gang. inside utah state prison, there are more than 150 recognized gangs. prison officials say the white supremacists pose one of the greatest threats. >> my whole family's in here. i was raised that way. my dad, my uncles, all my cousins. i been getting tattoos since i was 13 years old. once you start getting tattoos, it's addicting. the ink's addicting. the pain, to an extent, to me, is addicting. >> curtis allgier is serving 1
to 15 years for burglary, forgery and escape. >> a lot of people see the swastika and say that's hate. to me, that's not what i wear it for. i wear it as a symbolism of pride of who i am and a symbolism of good luck. and i have a lot of them. >> curtis is locked down with gang leaders in uinta-2 because he's considered a threat to inmates in general population. >> in uinta-2, that is where we'll house our maximum security gang members. this is generally the leadership, those that are trying to run the gang. >> they are the more active gang members. that's the reason we have them here is because they are so active. and they're the ones who like to start trouble. >> while proud to be a skinhead, curtis doesn't want to be considered a gang member anymore. >> i'm no part of them. i've never been a part of them, nor will i ever be a part of them. those dudes, in my mind, are weak and lame. they're not white supremacists,
because of these groups that commit crimes and do all the crap that they do, people are going to look at us bad. >> at utah state prison, staff estimates that almost 1,000 inmates, roughly one-quarter of the prison population, are active gang members. >> we are around our rivals all day. anything can happen to me. >> stick with your gang. stick with who you know and where you're safe. >> it's not a gang, it's not an organization. being a skinhead is a way of life. >> it's not illegal to belong to a gang. however, when those gangs start becoming involved in criminal activity, then we will separate those gangs. and we will classify them as a security threat group. >> usp security threat group, or stg, was formed in 2001 after five inmates were stabbed in a massive gang attack. >> it was almost to the point where, if an inmate came in, he almost had to join a gang just
for protection. it was at that time that we realized that we need to do something to try to curb gang activity within our prison system before it led to a violent nature. >> captain darren smith is the head of the stg unit which has documented more than 150 different gangs inside the prison. >> we have our hispanic gangs, which basically fall under southern cal or southern hispanic or northern cal, northern hispanic. we have crips, and we have bloods, and then we have our white supremacists. >> the most active gang members at usp are segregated into one section of the prison, away from the general population. >> it's pretty amazing. you got a bunch of different people associated with gangs for one reason or another. and you stick them all together, some people do get along, some people don't. >> it has its ups and downs. rival gangs bring problems from the streets in here. you know, and that brings problems for everybody in here, you know? >> part of getting along you got to learn how to be a human being
and put your hate behind you. >> so there's always this kind of uneasy truce. but for the most part, if they have respect for each other and each other's space, then there's usually not a problem. >> while segregated from the rest of the general population, within this unit the inmates are integrated. meaning a member of a latin gang could be housed with a white supremacist. >> we try to create a balance throughout the building, you know? so they kind of have to live around each other, but there's not a big congregation of one gang versus another. they'll hang with their certain group. they're in such confined space they're still basically forced to interact. they'll do calisthenics. they'll lift water bags, play hand ball, play cards. >> it just brings more tension. because they're trying for us to get along but not everybody thinks that way. there's other gangs that just don't -- just don't want to get along. >> felix solis is a member of occ, ogden's craziest chicanos, a local utah gang.
he's serving 11 months for possession of a controlled substance. >> i've never seen so much gangs all in one place before. if you're gang-banging, and if you're down for your set, you're down for it, no matter what it takes. >> you can tell any time something's going on. any time there's any type of issue or anything like that, the section will split apart. >> certain words will be said. there's some obvious words, punk, bitch, stuff like that. >> going up to somebody saying "f" your hood or something like that. >> even if it doesn't involve you, even if it's two different rival gangs, you'll go and gravitate towards your own gang because you never know what's going to happen. >> within our last three or four assaults, what's happened is it started out with two inmates. but then inmates from those same games jumped in. so we've had, you know, seven, eight, nine inmates fighting at once. >> to combat gang violence, officers are on constant alert for weapons. cells are checked twice daily. and all inmates are strip-searched when returning
from the yard. >> these are actually pieces of our building, aluminum louvers that were in our ventilation system. and so the inmates found out they can get them out pretty easy and sharpen them up. basically, they'll put toothpaste on the cement and just work it across like you would with a knife on a stone or anything like that. >> they're like animals in there. every day. if i do something to you, what's the worst they can do to me? give me some more time? i'm a lifer. >> in the same uinta complex, the state of utah houses those inmates whom its courts have condemned to die. >> we don't have a lot of violence in there. we don't have a lot of negative events. you can either do good time or you can do hard time. our inmates on death row, they have elected to do good time. >> there are fewer than a dozen men on utah's death row at various levels of appeal. ralph menzies has been there for 17 years. >> ralph's crime was a brutal one.
he kidnapped a female from a convenience store. took her up one of the canyons. tied her to a tree and cut her throat and then left her there. it was so brutal, that's why he is on death row. >> my window is always covered. if i can't go out there and walk on the grass, i don't want to see the grass. because it does bring back a lot of memories. and it does tell me what i can't have and can't do. so, i just fit into my little world and i'm all right. >> ralph has always maintained his innocence. that's ralph's fight. that's not the state of utah's fight. our staff here manage him day to day because he is a death row inmate. and he will get what's coming to a death row inmate, and nothing more. >> from death row, the condemned will be transferred in a state van to the back of the uinta-3 building. >> i personally wish they would either overturn my case, my conviction, or execute me and get it over with.
now, you don't know if it's going to be five years down the road, if it's going to be two years, ten years, what they're going to decide. and that's really hard. >> if ralph menzies is to be executed, he will be moved from a holding cell at 30 minutes to midnight, then be escorted by a team of five officers down this hallway, arriving at a room whose purpose cannot be mistaken. some inmates die by lethal injection. utah still uses a firing squad for inmates who have chosen that option. one such execution made headlines when convicted murderer gary gilmore was put to death in 1977. >> he'll be strapped to the chair. at that point, a medical personnel will place an "x" over the inmate's chest. a hood will be placed on him. this chair does not have a back, for obvious reasons. it is bolted so that it will not tip over.
>> a two-inch thick kevlar panel is bolted to the wall to absorb the rounds. five law enforcement officers from around the area in which the crime was committed are assigned to fire simultaneously. one of the rifles is loaded with dummy rounds, leaving each potential executioner with a hint of doubt as to his ultimate responsibility in the process. >> once he is given his last words and he's been given okay to proceed with the execution, a cadence will be given and shots will be fired. >> i chose to be executed by firing squad because the only other option here is lethal injection. that's what they do to dogs. and i don't want them -- i'd rather sit up and take it and have them look at who they're killing. if they was going to execute me tomorrow, i'd be nervous. but on the other side, i'd be relieved it's all over with. it's not really living. we're just existing day to day.
utah state prison is one of the only penal institutions in the country that houses both male and female offenders. usp's 430 women are housed here, at the timpanogos facility. >> they come from every social, economic class that there is. women come in, say i didn't ever think that this would ever happen to me, and here i am. >> the timpanogos facility is split into four buildings or stars. lieutenant gailey whitney supervises star-4, a home of the excel program, a therapeutic community for substance abusers. >> i'm in here for zero to five. possession with intent to distribute. >> possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. >> two counts of distribution methamphetamine and illegal sale of a gun. >> while only 50% of usp female inmates are here specifically on drug charges, a large majority of these offenders are doing time for crimes committed in order to support a drug habit. >> it numbs you up and you don't
feel. you become somebody you would never expect to be. >> cheryl megarry is serving up to five years for forging a credit card application, a crime she perpetrated in order to buy drugs. >> this unit's very good because the women all support each other. it's like a sisterhood. >> in the community they have mentors, they have support for each other. >> positive nine plus negative six. >> exactly. >> we have set it up so that everybody gets positive reinforcements all the time. >> we realize the consequences what we've done, because of the wrong choices we have made and how we've harmed our loved ones. we can't change the past but we can change the future. >> i'm just a totally different person. you wouldn't have liked me seven years ago. >> cindy johnson has been clean for some time. a graduate of the excel program, cindy discovered her drug problem only after it was too late. >> i am here on a first degree
murder charge. i've been here seven years. i was a housewife. i have four children out there. i got into the pain pills. i got involved with an older man that was giving me his pills for sexual favors. and it just got really deep. i broke it off with him. and it got bad. we got into a big fight. i went over there with a bat and hit him in the head with it. that's my little boy, skylin, with his sister, kristin. when i came to prison, my baby boy was only a year and a half old. it was devastating because i didn't -- it wasn't planned. i didn't realize what i was doing. >> although cindy won't see the parole board for another seven years, she has made things right with her children. >> my girls are older now. they can drive up and see me. my youngest son, now 9 years old. i just talked to him yesterday on the phone. he's just doing really good. i have a good relationship.
even though it's over the phone, just because i'm sober. >> like cindy, many of usp's female inmates struggle with cycles of abuse that stem from destructive relationships with men. due to overcrowding issues, usp is forced to house men in the timpanogos star-1 unit, side by side with women's housing. >> it would definitely make it easier if there wasn't men. it would help the women focus more on what they need to focus on. >> the prison goes to great lengths to reduce contact between the men and women, ensuring that they are never in any adjacent yard areas at the same time. and covering windows to prevent them from seeing into each other's housing units. nevertheless, the two genders have devised other ways of keeping in touch. >> what i was just doing was signing. that's how we communicate with the men. >> monica waterfall is serving up to 15 years for possession, and has become fluent in signing, an active communication
that is expressly forbidden. >> oh, hugging. this is hugging. or kiss is like this. >> communications is a big thing in prison. so if they're signing to those guys, whether it's, i love you, or, he did this to me, take care of him. i'm not going to decipher whether it's positive communication or negative communication. it just can't be. >> kay law is serving five to life for running a meth lab with her husband, scott. kay is housed in timpanogos star-2. scott lives next door with the men in star-1. >> i never actually contributed as far as in the making of it. but yeah, i was using. i love him. there was nothing i would have ever done to hurt him in any way. so, yeah, i mean, if he was going to go down, i was going down with him. >> she could have decided, well, this guy is a no-good guy, and left me.
it means a lot to me that she still cares. you know, she's still there. >> although they live just 100 feet apart, kay and scott are not allowed to visit each other. the few moments a week she passes by in sight of the men's yard is the extent of their contact. >> there's times i wish i could just sit down and talk to him or give him a hug or whatever. but i feel lucky, i do. i'm lucky that i just get to see him and have him right there. >> just a little glimpse makes my day. you know, it's right there on my wrist, my watch. when it comes that time, i'm there. >> with their parole hearings coming up, both scott and kay hope to be out of prison within a year and are looking forward to a fresh start. >> i feel like i owe her. i owe her a lot. and i want to make up a lot of what we missed. >> i can't change what happened, but i can tell you i learned a big lesson from it. and in a sense, i can say maybe it's a blessing that we came here. i think that it's made our love
stronger. >> we can build from this, you know, this is our foundation now. we've experienced the low of our lives. and it's just going to get better. coming up, while getting used to life at usp is difficult for some -- >> never know who's out here to get you. >> for others, getting out is the greatest challenge of all. >> i hope this is different. >> there's your daddy. >> i'm scared, though. for a lot of people, doing
for a lot of people, doing time is never easy. and i think most of their struggles with it are within themselves. so they can't see any light at the end of the tunnel. >> it's been one week since galen sisneros and andrew dykman entered usp. they've been transferred to uinta-3 which contains overflow housing for new arrivals. >> i'm thinking more on the lines of changing my life now. because i'm getting a little too old for this, you know. prison. i mean, i got to grow up sometime. i don't know when it's going to be. >> you kind of keep to yourself, because you never know who's out here to get you. my cellmate is in here for murder. so, it's real, you know. it's kind of scary. hard to go to sleep knowing you're surrounded by all these people.
>> randy russell has been struggling with drug addiction. unable to take his methadone prescription, he is suffering from withdrawal. >> your body starts twitching, it's mad. it twitches and keeps fighting. won't let you get in any kind of comfortable position. suicide crossed my mind a few times. >> i could tell that he was struggling and having difficulty dealing with the idle time in here. so i gave him this book by viktor frankel. called "man's search for meaning." >> it makes a lot of sense, how it talks about if you gain a little hope or if you have something out on the streets, like a wife and kid, then you have something to hold on to. >> tuesdays are release days at usp. jed strong has just finished serving an 11-month sentence for possession of heroin and methamphetamine. >> i'm a little nervous to get back out on the streets, but i'm looking forward to it. i met a lot of people that, you know, have a lot of knowledge. they gave me some advice that i got to take with me.
>> without any family members to pick him up, jed will be transferred by parole officers to the parole office. meanwhile, frank trusty is being released after serving 14 months for forgery, possession, and distribution of a controlled substance. >> there's your daddy. >> frank is seeing his daughter for the first time in 14 months. >> i love you, baby. >> i love you. >> this little girl's been waiting. talking to him every weekend on the phone. >> this baby girl doesn't do it and this grandma of his doesn't keep him on the straight and narrow, he's going to get the tar beat out of him. >> my daddy. >> are you happy to have daddy home? >> uh-huh. >> upon release, all offenders are required to check in at adult probation and parole reporting center. >> what's your name? >> strong, jedd strong. >> jedd will enter a halfway house where he will have to look for a job and undergo substance abuse therapy.
>> and i want you to check in every tuesday until you get an agent. >> many inmates who don't have anywhere to go end up here, the salt lake transitional housing center. these parolees have just been released today. >> one of the first goals is to find a job, with the idea of being able to afford to find a place to live and get on out of here. >> i'm going to look for anything and any place that will hire me. it's hard for a felon to get a job. >> residents are required to check in and out with an officer. paychecks must be turned in each week for room and board, restitution fees, and child support. >> compared to prison, obviously, the restrictions are much less than what they've been used to. >> it's nice to walk around in the city, you know. to meet real people other than other male inmates, you know. my freedom is everything to me. you know, you don't have freedom when you're in the penitentiary.
>> with a family to provide support, frank trusty is one of the lucky ones. frank arrives after a haircut and a change of clothes to change his offender status from prisoner to parolee. >> regardless of how well or bad your life is going, you have to report as required. we're going to come out to your home. >> okay. >> and if we believe there's a reason to look around, we're going to ask to look around. you can't have weapons. possession of a firearm is a federal offense. because you're a convicted felon. you should always come to the office ready to give a urine. >> okay. >> frank will face random drug testing as part of his parole. any positive urine test, frank could be sent right back to usp. >> i smoked marijuana. my distribution was for mushrooms. every time i get out, i end up getting high again. i hope this is different. i'm scared, though. >> frank's 30 years old. that's where offenders are usually on the cusp. where they'll start aging out, they'll slow down and will start making responsible decisions. you'll hear a lot, i'm too old for this. i'm too tired for this.
>> so if you're not hanging out with the bad guys, if you're not using drugs, if you're employed -- >> it shouldn't be a problem. >> exactly. you're going to move on and this is going to be the first day of the rest of your life. >> that's how i'm trying to look at it. >> statistics show that if an offender is able to stay in the community for six months, they have a 30% chance of completing parole. that percentage rises to 50% if they are able to stay out a year without re-offending. >> ready to go, baby? >> daddy! >> i don't know that there is anything i can do to make up for it. hopefully i can be a good dad and be an active member of society and not take from people. try to give back some of what i took. hopefully that will be enough.
>> prison officials say nearly half of those paroled return to prison within the first year. that's our report. thanks for watching. i'm john seigenthaler. due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. there are 2 million people behind bars in america. we open the gates, "lockup." >> i report out front and i seen that 35-foot brick wall, and it's like a reality check, you know. >> this place is full of snitches running around thinking they're cool. >> monday, i was totally discharged. and i got tickets to see the minnesota twins play the kansas city royals thursday. >> i shot three people. he cut up two. >> and i made two knives. >> you know, they trusted me with their daughter. i ended k