tv Larry King Now RT December 30, 2013 11:00pm-11:31pm EST
incarceration nation where the law does jailers in the world is it working when i started practicing thirty years ago a ten or twenty year sentence was a big deal now you can win in court and you get ten twenty thirty years people are given sixteen years for less than unifying factor folks that we're locking up and in this country is beyond race beyond anything is that we are locking up an alarming number of poor black folk a large number of poor latino four and a white folk who are locking up a poor to play on people make money in the system every time someone is arrested this money being made off of a blood sweat of people who don't belong in prison plus we have to humanize the people that we're locking up in this country if they just become numbers and just become race groups and just become for folks we forget a pointer to all next on larry king now.
welcome to larry king out of today's topic is incarceration about which much discussion is required the united states is the largest jailer in the world is the american public safer for or has it gotten over out of hand joining me today to discuss the issue of hill harper mr harper is the award winning actor a new york times best selling author his latest book is letters to an incarcerated brother encouragement hope and healing for inmates and their loved ones our old friend mark geragos there were now on defense attorney who celebrity clients of including chris brown the late michael jackson and he's co-author of a terrific book mistrial an inside look at how the criminal justice system orks and sometimes doesn't another old friend judge joe brown he's of course the longtime host of his famous t.v. show which ended its fifteen year run earlier this year a social activists joe is now considering. going into politics and with us again is
kevin hagen i say again because kevin who was incarcerated for twenty eight years was released in two thousand and eleven from san quentin where rico probably impact program that stands for incarcerated men putting away childish things i say again because i interviewed kevin when he was a prisoner at san quentin hill who you're writing to writing to writing to everybody because we hope to for me i hope the book hits home on a number of levels obviously the book is for individuals who are are incarcerated or soon to be released specifically but but but on the bigger picture the bigger note putting this issue to everyone saying you know many of us are in mental prisons or in prisons not made of iron bars particularly with regard to our system of incarceration our mass incarceration crisis and what do you mean by childish things well i mean have a tendency to revert back to what they know what they know where they come from especially kids come in the men coming from certain hudes and stuff like that if
this way you want to put it they don't know how to grow out of that because nobody has been to mentor them to teach them how to grow from that mindset so we have what we will we try to teach the kids in how to put away the chow to slow you in for i was in from a robbery. and you did twenty eight you do twenty eight and you were rightfully convicted yes i will mark the united states accounts for twenty five percent of the world's inmates there are more than two point three million inmates in our prison is most of that drugs almost all of it is drugs or drug related you can sit in the superior court here in l.a. on any day and just wait for an hour and a half from nine to ten thirty and watch the calendar ninety percent of the cases are either drug cases or cases that arose out of drugs and eighty percent of the customers of the courts here in california are minorities i mean it's this is not a white man's activity or club so judge of drugs were legal we know that the
prisons are good of him for that once there's something else going on at the top in that percentage of the world's incarcerated population reflects the fact that as a society we have not addressed ordinary working man getting obsoleted by industrial technology and computerization archie bunker keeps getting knocked down a notch and people drop out the bottom and the criminal justice system deals with these days i guess it's been morphed into something that handles surplus labor reveled in crime so much so long as we've got that problem we're going to have a lot of work in the criminal justice system and it's all tidy and it's got to do with dysfunctional lifestyles and a lot of the things did promote this prison population so drugs does happen to be the convenient. designer of crime of the morons logic but is it art is it really comes out of this and i guess this is kind of the morphing of what you're talking
about judge it comes down to money or lack thereof because because the unifying factor of folks that we're locking up in this country is beyond race beyond anything is that we're locking up an alarming number of poor black folk a large number of poor latino for and the white folk are locking up a poor too so it's poverty is the is the unifying issue and lack of access. it's a jobs and educational opportunity and so what we see is if you ask somebody in a prison why are you in there they will raise their hands they are whatever i was doing was somewhat money related and less they were the customer. of the anesthetic which is the drug while the other thing that you've got i will share of baka here in l.a. will tell you all the time he is now in charge of the largest mental health facility tell the ungenerous down to where we've got we've got nothing but the mentally ill get no give they get criminalized basically when they closed all the state hospitals most of the state mental hospitals in california they didn't take those guys and put them in the programs you know where all the all the women they took me stuff them in prison and if you go into prison today and you look at the people
lines there all the way around the block of most everybody in there is sedated and those people don't belong there just like you have the guys that have drug abuse problems you got to make programs for one because. it's a complex where there's money being made off of the blood and sweat of people that don't belong in prison because they're a god lot of guys example oh now i'm a good look the there is a vested interest in law enforcement having a war on drugs law enforcement has a war on drugs they get to forfeit assets they get to beef up whatever they're doing they get federal grants they get out there they bust people they bring them in but drugs are a commodity yet it's public once we open the graves using and sticks the drug into the ok right so if you're dealing with the public me of all forms of this if you legalize that you couldn't have the problem away right but can you imagine if you just taxed marijuana in california you wouldn't have to close down schools or
anything else and we're going to we when you have to go to you don't have to go to legalization or you can go to decriminalization this two different things i mean the legalization organ is very difficult one to explain it because judges there's i do know that is not what you told a lot of stuff is one thing it's hard to win politically but decriminalization is different that means you're not necessary locking people up for drug problem you're looking for some of the solution is different look at it this way if you think of labor is a commodity like we corner cotton when you get a glut in a commodity price drops this is the working wage you don't want to make the make the coming along again and blowing up another courthouse in oklahoma city so when you've got a commodity glitchy do three things store the surplus subsidize would be producer and cut back production we put our surplus in a jail cell instead of a grain silo the subsidies the will fare jack in the cutting back production is the banging out drugging out dropping out in a well there's been a lack of
a education and they do it to themselves they get a felony record and they become very difficult to employ the make the communities chaotic so to not politically cohesive and they get taken out of the picture and they serve a function for the system because there's a lot of money to be made there yes and yet in a lot of the lakes or attorney general eric holder said in august that widespread incarceration is ineffective and unsustainable. years ago i interviewed the famed dr call medicare the medical clinic until he get cancer and he said the biggest mistake in mankind's history is prison prison doesn't work you need another system denmark has a system where people go in that they don't get sentenced for amount of years their sentence and when they are above two they feel they should be released there were released sometimes they live prison run as a community where the prisoners over at the mayor of the societies we just incarcerate marcie said it's a failure there is a reason i look i think it's
a failure you i was just in san quentin two months ago there's no way that you can go to st quentin see the most beautiful land on the planet in california and then you go inside of that hellhole and you say to yourself what are we doing i mean it's medieval when you decide to do that or a minimum sentences obsolete well we one of the things you said is there used to be california at least it was indeterminate you put somebody in if they were ready you'd let them out then the politicians discovered you could you could make a lot of hay by poll of politicizing crime and when they did that then we started throwing out i would i start practicing thirty years ago a ten or twenty year sentence was a big deal i mean that was you have to really earn ten or twenty now you can win in court and you get ten twenty thirty years people are given sixty years for left or did well as the population with the white population percent you can trace it back thirty years ago it's a confluence of of a huge problem a super typhoon let's say you have extreme reduction in terms of public education
money and early childhood education combined with the fact that you have a war on drugs combined with the fact that you could literally lay graphs of incarceration rates over dropout rates city to city i was just in baltimore city to have a seventy percent dropout rate of after american males have about a seventy percent of cars race for a vacuum there is a system resist. there's a disparity in cincy is what you call it the bloody hand is more years than the was it by me and wesley going to use one of one of my younger my younger kids it by being with legalized goes steals across a joyride joey in south central los angeles steals a car is a juvenile felony for him so he gets five years yeah we get community service and one of the only countries in the world washes layer on the only countries in the world that will lock up juvenile offenders for life give life sentences to a juvenile offender there's no other country in the world that doesn't judge the average american prison rape is seven times higher than the imprisonment of white
well that's to be expected if you get into the dynamics there is a discrepancy in sentencing but it's not so much race as to where you find the races economically so one of the things we've got to do is look at what's actually happening in terms of the demographics we've got this thing that still residual in a large part of the conferee where your income depends on how many babies you have and we're not doing anything about ten eleven twelve fourteen year old girl started to have the first of seven eight nine ten fourteen fifteen children is mostly black girls. girls but will go out of line is is it's most noticeable in certain areas now we've got a thing that's fifteen years out of whack in the memphis area where if you take average american males between eighteen and twenty nine out of every eleven of them
in certain areas that are predominant black nine of miraculin doris rated and not on probation or parole they're actually locked up when the federal system abolished parole that really got to be a mess it was a black man don't you take this personally and go and make a very that's what you know that's why i wrote the book when i started getting letters from from men and young men young women in prison it broke my heart in many ways because in many ways you know it's a type of a life sentence you come out of prison with no education and a felony on your record your chance of getting a job it's extremely difficult so you're that's why was it received in rich's allies and i when i went to kevin for instance and asked him to contribute to the book i mean we have to humanize the people that we're locking up in this country because because if we just if they just become numbers and just become race groups and just become poor folks we forget once you're in prison you're forgotten person right it's goodbye right basically no you don't lose interest i was in a federal courtroom in orange county of all places yesterday and there was
a judge there judge carter and judge carter takes the position and it was astonishing to me that ok i'm going to sentence people under these sentencing guidelines even though they're not mandatory but when you will east from custody every day at seven thirty am and i walked in there yesterday at seven thirty he's got thirty or to one hundred of the people that have just been released from federal prison and he wants to see them first before they go to probation before they go to supervised release he shakes every one of their hands he started a program will have tattoo removals and he tells them the reason is i want to move remove the tattoos from here to here so that i can get you a job i want you to get a job because i think if i can get to you and get. acclimated within the first month you've got a chance of not reoffend so it's an amazing kind of a concept but people don't want to deal with up next life after prison what the criminal justice system does and doesn't do to help felons get back on their feet will be right that. will.
a lot of me are brought up with a family belief system men don't cry men don't share their feelings we have to learn that stuff all over again it's ok to cry it's ok to share your feelings it's ok to talk about it if you're overwhelmed don't stay stuck in that mentality in that box and my whole philosophy on that is you have to put the work in. you don't put the work in it as you know you could get. you gone for a long time but it's up to the individual that's there that has to make the change on those hard to come out into a world after twenty years i thought it was great it was fast pace i got a new side i never got sidetracked but i got scared. for about the first three months but after that. i just got right in with everything else he's you know he's
an example he's a hero in my mind in kevin says look i did something wrong i mean he readily admits he made a dire mistake when he was you know a tragic mistake but but that doesn't mean we need to throw away the key on him and the kevins like him. why do we know well the judge should know one thing you know the the second most powerful union in california is the correctional officers union and they give the most money next to the teachers' union and they have a prison industrial complex for lack of a better term that they support in the correctional officers want to build more prisons they want to warehouse more people because that inhalants is their power and their ability and won't want to move the way you do they want more members and you got to have people you have the take joe's expression you've got to have more of the commodity to warehouse and what did you call the silo you put it in a jail cell in sort of a grain silo there's a lot of money here one thousand nine hundred ninety six i was running grand jury
in shelby county and they had to check out all books and accounts everything of government entities and they had this thing about privatization so i was going to go there was the phone system and what was going on is the scheme that the county commission came up with as one dollar approx six percent a unit well i was astonished when i discovered that the net profit for the phone system was ninety four million dollars and you go on like this got an even have an office he's got three part time secretary checks from phone companies when they build their cars look at that is to muddy the lot and the vendors at the jails the vendors that the generals are making a fortune when people make money in the system every time someone is arrested that's twenty not people along the line and then you talk about privatization president we can go right it seems the show's over anybody can get on the stock exchange and invest money in this is what's diabolical literally invest money in a corporation whose profit motive is locking up more people so we can bat and make money on locking up more people but you can't find employment for the people
because you know government business and they going to run them selves so what happens archie bunker said before you don't have a job the american tradition you were hard to get here you know you're nineteen years old. get rated to settle down with mary lou and all the will is going to get you a job in a warehouse and learn how to drive a fork trip well before you can get a will he's been with the company for nineteen years ago it's a paint slip says by sucker you know we got taken over by some young execs who want to be billionaires before they get fifty so we're downsizing for corporate profitability go find something for you to do screw you mortgage sin in kids a college car notice your problem not mine what keeps you going. when you were in prison hope. my mom. my son and just a will to right my room. and not everybody i can say that everybody had the added
to the of the take on it that i did but my thing is i had opportunities people for volunteers from they came into the institution that was there and while these people volunteered their time to come in here you know what they do think i have some serious work you know because i don't know if every person does but i went through a period in my life where i don't have any self-worth anymore the good doctor i'm told of doctors tell me this always care about the patient they lose a patient they sometimes blame themselves when you have someone in prison that you represent you think about i'm a lot a lot keep in touch a lot here or is it always it depends on who the client is but i try to keep in touch with the right letters aren't inmates have a lot of time on their hands one of the things they do is write letters of a nothing nothing scars you to the core of my people always ask me because i do so much criminal defense how do you sleep at night of so if you know somebody is
guilty and you get them out i always say that is not my worry my worry is with i've got somebody who i think didn't do it and they're going to get convicted that is what i lose sleep about imus drive you nuts it's not you know someone now that you defended that's in prison you know didn't do it absolutely absent out of the walk around i mean it's just it drives you crazy i'm going to just there's the the system does not work it has not worked for years it you know is very good at processing people it's excellent processing people unfortunately we've gotten to the point now where a lot of people feel like getting the trains running on time is more important than justice ninety seven plus percent of the people in america invented entries pled guilty. and got found guilty and eighty five percent of those did pled confessed. but the system has gotten locked into a situation now where they don't really profit by people's changing their lives it
actually serves a viable function for the overall society that is tamped down in kid you know white ninety seven percent of the people for of in the last he did him and another jew was not just keep him in you want him to keep committing criminal acts are you kidding that's the stuff that at the set of of our population but i believe if folks understood what i am about to overall thing if you back off and look at it in the political science function and you take the entire thing nobody can expose me here with there but there is a connection so when you look at it there is actually a functionality to a crime service for this system that has come to depend on hill in this book which i can't wait to get a lead as to an incarcerated brother. you say that the prison system is larger than the entire university system and it costs more to send someone to jail than to go to an ivy league college yes that's bizarre so social and that's that's what the
general public the general us public doesn't know that because like market just said politicians have done a great job sending one message you know i'm a lock him up king rather than you know if we were smarter we'd actually be electing public officials that are smart on crime not tough on prop the state he had to the statistics state and federal prison population decreased by one point seven percent last year just because of the demographics oh that's all it is my father who was a criminal prosecutor for many years used to say if you want to solve the crime crime problem just lock up all males between the ages of sixteen and twenty fourth crime would plummet immediately because eventually once you get through that age group and is they as they age crime goes down i mean that's just a simple zaba least we have seen a social media question stephen bar of facebook by what percentage with the population in prison system be greased if marijuana would be criminalized. do we
know many do but i would say the minimum of fifteen percent animal fit into the invisibility prison yet no one is going to be legal for the some it's going to be pretty it's going to be legal die it should be people in jail for smoking something the people outside a smoking hole in kano one of the reasons i never became a prosecutor i was following my father around who was a da and i was in high school and i went to one to watch it work and he was locking up somebody eighteen year old kid he was the da for eighteen year old kid for sixteen months in state prison for being in a room where marijuana was smoked he didn't smoke it but he was in the room that used to be a crime since the state prison in the couch in california progressed in and out of marijuana use a second clinton oh yeah yeah yeah and raymond will be united states that clear that the war on drugs is a failure and come up with a more effective palls the war on drugs failed right right but i know we don't even know who i agree with joe if you don't take
a holistic view of this you're doomed to just repeat it it's like pushing down the go for here and he's going to pop his head up over there ok and see you have to understand a lot of what goes on officially is not for prove purposes there is a big problem with the us embassy and state department system so you daily would make soko lot of the drugs and guns that come into people get nervous about coming through the embassy they're trying to generate on that whole thing they had with what was it. where they had to staying did went wrong and some border patrol even. faster to fear by fast and ferry what they were trying to do is get in the. a treaty treaties are ratified treaties become part of the supreme law of the land and some people lead idea they wanted to defuse the second amendment by getting an appropriate treaty would make a call when they thought that was valuable enough then to the day to do all they wanted to do not they should issue here it's education and job but education engine
. the issuance right but you deaf to look at the whole societies we are where we are because of education and take knology but all across the spectrum everywhere they have made it more and more difficult for somebody to get an adequate education even the ones i go to her because if we can we cut out the these the subsidies for education and we subsidize building prisons in which warehousing more people don't even get an idea how expensive it is for prisons most states spin somewhere between forty eight hundred was a load of maybe about seventy eight eight thousand per student through high school years. but if you take in all cost considered you're running somewhere between eighty five in about one hundred thousand dollars per inmate yes add an institution per year now that's going to lead by i go. to what do you suggest to the average citizen to a few things you can do immediately today every time you walk into
a store today whatever your regular stores walk up to the manager and ask them how many x. felon direction cars for you to vigils have they hired to work at this particular store and encourage them to say you want to take your business also if they won't hire felons hire hire x. felons what has changed would you make tomorrow you if you had told you that i've already hired felons there intentionally or unintentionally the there's something to be said for that i i just because it was yesterday morning judge carter's idea of bringing in people when they're released and something as simple as tattoo removal which i had never really thought of but he says he has or says the well it is it allows them to get jobs from people who are here because it's all economic based i mean people are not out committing petty crime because they like to commit petty crime they're committing pretty crime because they want to get a fix because they're going to do this or they're going to what would you change do you. well i deal with the drug situation the guys or the strung out on drugs and
try to find some alternative instead of cinnamon to prison and education but what i would do would go back go back to the neighborhood and put some of them programs back you know schools that tape taken from the beginning was that those kids need so they don't get raised by the streets we're out of time but one quick thing you change odd change the child rearing strategies are not all so in for size education thank you all very much with more on this thanks to my guests hill harper mark geragos kevin hagan and judge joe brown those book letters to and incarcerated brother that is in stores now i want to continue this conversation you can find me on twitter. king's thing is a c. and i just i. got a quote for you. it's pretty tough. stay where it's not story. let's
get this guy like you would smear about guys stead of working for the people most missions the mainstream media were for each other bridegroom speech and. they did rather. well if you will show a moment like these major news college face i describe you know it. was. pleasure to have you with us here on t.v. today i roll researcher.
a. was up as i'm abby martin and this is breaking at the sets after weeks of intense negotiations in geneva about iran's nuclear program diplomacy amazingly prevailed so to her on has signed on to a six month agreement that limits its uranium enrichment to five percent a level well below the necessary requirement for the development. a nuclear weapon in exchange iran will receive a minor reduction in harsh sanctions on many of its most valuable exports such as oil and gold and while most of the world is celebrating this encouraging development between the two countries which historically ice cold relations one head of state just just isn't gotten used.