tv Lockup MSNBC July 15, 2011 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT
. due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. >> america's prisons. dangerous. often deadly. there are 2 million people doing time. every day is a battle to survive and to maintain order. >> down on your feet. down. >> this is "lockup: inside angola." over 5,000 men living behind the gates of one of america's oldest prisons. serving sentences so long, most will die here. >> one out of every two that you see in this prison is a murderer.
>> violence close to the surface, ready to explode. >> trouble's ready. if you're not careful, trouble will find you. >> i will maintain my mental stability when i leave. >> two ways out, dead or alive. ♪ >> 90 miles from new orleans, up the mississippi river, lies louisiana state penitentiary. commonly referred to as angola, at 18,000 acres, it is the largest prison in america. started as a slave plantation in the 1700s, converted to a prison plantation at the end of the civil war, and taken over by the state in 1901, this storied land has seen more than its share of pain.
it was once considered the bloodiest prison in america. and its current population of 5,148 men serve sentences so long, it's estimated that 90% of them will die here, yet things have changed drastically over the past decade, and much credit goes to warden burl cain. >> that's really what our mission is, it's not to torment and torture, but it's to correct bad behavior and do that any way you can. and the root way to do that is morality. moral people obviously don't rape, pilfer and steal. >> right here in the midst of angola, i have seen change because of the seed of favor of god. >> warden cain's approach to morality works on two levels. one, spiritual and religious. the other engaging employment opportunities.
church is optional. work is not. >> i've been editing for really about a month now and been with ls productions about nine months. >> perhaps the most unusual example of innovation at angola is the tv station. the only big house production company in the united states. >> one, two, three, four. >> before we do a shoot, we have to kind of step back and kind of ask, well, if an outside company was doing it, what would they ask? >> choose your behavior, choose your consequence. i chose angola by the lifestyle i was living. i'm not going to lay down, just roll over. i want my life to mean something. and it can even though that i'm in prison. >> every member of the tv station but one is serving a life sentence. >> well, i really enjoy it. you mow, it's a challenge. of course, i like learning new things and hope to make a career
out of it if i should ever get out of prison. >> lsp-tv broadcast on a closed circuit system. there are religious shows. educational programming. and the most popular of all, sports. >> all right. they're mixing it up early. >> there's a show called "ringside." and witness a month we go to another prison here in louisiana and the boxing team here will fight the boxing team there. >> sports keep people's minds off the tedium of time. and few sports are more popular than boxing. for those who make the team, it's a paid job, albeit, the salary rage is only 4 cents to 20 cents an hour. >> well, doing what you love, i mean, i'm a boxer. that's what i love. you know what i'm saying? this is what i'm going to do till the day i die. to be able to do what you want is a sort of freedom. >> if boxing spices up angola's
tv schedule, it is the rodeo that provides the career's greatest highlights. the event takes place on prison grounds every sunday and twice in april. the stadium holds 10,000 people. all free people coming to spree the spectacle. >> no, i actually never rode a horse or a bull in my life. i come up here, and it seemed like it all took place. >> inmates in good standing can participate. no skill required. >> you nervous? you excited? >> a little nervous. >> i got 51 years, aggravated burglary. >> does it hurt? >> just a little bit. >> the inmates also get rewarded for winning the rodeo events.
$200 for convict poker. $80 for winning the bull riding event. cowboy of the year awarded to the highest scoring inmate gets a championship buckle. >> these are the worst inmates you could have in any prison in the country, but yet they're rehabilitated to the point that they can come and mingle with the people. it just shows that we can change prisons in america. we can have culture change within our prisons like we have here. >> some criticize the event's brutality. others say the prisoners don't deserve the excitement of the rodeo. >> to these inmates, to participate can be king for a day. and that's something they never really get in prison and some people would say, well, who cares? well, i would say, what's one day? >> great day for a rodeo. >> get set for the event that
is, indeed, unique to angola. >> it's about challenging the bull. see who's got the biggest, you know, kahulas. >> the biggest prize is for guts and glory. the goal, pull a chit off a bad bull's head. it's a brutal event, and many a man has sacrificed his own blood and bones to take home the $500 prize worth more than a year's wages. >> genesis, chapter 1, verse 26 through 28, saying god said let us make man in our image and likeness, and he said, let him have dominion over the fowl of the earth, the fish of the sea, and the beast of the field and
every creature that roams upon earth, god gave this. thank god. >> coming up, while some at angola find freedom in the brutality of the rodeo arena, there are those who barely see the light of day. >> your restriction is too severe for me. >> for them, there is camp j. >> you will be held here until you can get through the program. >> i have been without food for seven days now. esurance instantly compares our car insurance rates
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most of the inmates have bought into warden cain's program, but for those who refuse, there's camp j. where the men spend their days in solitary confinement. >> i want them to hate camp j so they'll alter their behavior and once they get out into population, they won't commit another rule infraction. the ones that come here come here for serious rule infractions. it may be an aggravated fight, which is a fight with a weapon. it may be for an assault on staff. it may be for trying to -- attempting to traffic drugs inside the prison. >> inmates on level one only get out one hour two days a week. if you make it to level three, you get out three days a week. >> i got busted on a charge on aggravated rape and kidnapping. i'm not saying that i'm no saint, but i'm saying that
everybody is like wrong, everybody did wrong. everybody in this world done stole, done lied, done killed, done did everything. ain't no crime is greater than no other crime on this earth. you got assaulting inmates supposed to be here. and you've got certain free folks supposed to be here, supposed to be locked up in here, not be working here, in here. >> trouble's not hard to find, if you're looking for it, and if you're not careful, trouble finds you. mccoy. >> yes, sir? >> how you feeling? >> normal, i guess. >> normal? >> yes, sir. >> you looking thin, man? you're not ready to eat? >> no, sir, i'm not going to eat anything until i can get some results. >> most try to pass through the program as quickly as possible. but then there are some men, like billy mccoy, who's been in and out of camp j for over a decade. >> you get yourself back on
track like you were just a week ago, you were doing well. >> yes, sir. >> i will do everything i can to see if we can get you to ccr, but you've got to get yourself advanced in the program first. >> watch this, sir. i am -- i have always been on track. i will maintain my mental stability when i need it in six feet in the ground. i will not lose my mental stability. this morning, since you mentioned that, this morning, one of your officers, captain dufolk, dashed a bucket of ice water on me because i won't eat trying to force me into eating. >> billy, you and i both know that's not true. >> also would not put a tray of food on the tray. >> you and i both know that's not true. >> also would not put a tray of foo on the tray. your restriction is too severe for me being 63 years old. >> you will be held here until you can get through the program and conduct yourself -- >> i will die without any food. >> and conduct yourself according to the program. >> i am conducting myself. i will die first. i have been without food for
seven days now. >> billy mccoy claims he's been on a hunger strike for seven days. we've documented he's been on a hunger strike for almost three days. he'll eat soon. he's done this before. he never stays on very long. he'll eat and then a meal and then he can probably go on a hunger strike again right after that meal. >> for those who refuse to cooperate, even the most meager amenities that camp j offers are eliminated. >> the different sanctions we can place on an inmate when they get a write-up at camp j, one of the sanctions is called a food loaf. a food loaf will be issued to an inmate who has been caught holding food in his cell, holding utensils or cups, that kind of thing, in his cell. gets caught throwing food or throwing other objects, he can be put on food loaf. >> basically, you have a serving of everything from every chow, like if it's for lunch, you'll have everything that's on the lunch tray, with the exception
of desert, will be placed in a food loaf. >> can you imagine everything -- this is the result right here. >> for men serving solitary time, keeping their sanity is the hardest challenge. each man has his own way to stay strong. >> i spared your queen. i'm going to take him this time. it expands your thoughts, you know, your thinking ability. you develop a lot of skills from playing chess. it's a thinking man's game, you know? that's the best move you can make. >> the hardest part of being in a cell 24 hours a day really is just maintaining your sanity and not letting persons get to you. you got a lot of pressure being in the cell. not even being able to have the proper spacing and just, you know, not being able to get out a lot. that's difficult, you know. and it's hard to maintain sanity
like that. outside that, you know, it's like standing on our head in one spot. you know, a stalemate. a chess game. >> it's your move. >> the two of those guys, i think they probably will be out of camp j soon. both of them have done well while they've been here. it's all about attitude. we can't help somebody if they don't want to help themselves, but i'm more than willing to help any of them who are willing to make that effort on their own behalf. coming up -- two ways out of angola. one is hard-earned freedom lurking just beyond the front gate. the other path is death. >> a 2,000-pound gorilla on my back. >> it takes about a minute and a half to breathe two breaths usually, and then they'll stop breathing. >> announcer: this past year alone there's been a 67% spike in companies embracing the cloud-- big clouds, small ones, public, private, even hybrid.
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built behind prison walls. the citizens call it the safest town in america. >> and each one who lives here provides some professional service more than just his job, like medicals here, doctors are here, emts, the farm, the cows might get out. >> indeed, angola not only has its own zip code, it also has its own golf course. if the b-line is the safest part of angola, death row is the most ominous. executions have been temporarily halted, awaiting a ruling by the supreme court. in the meantime, the cells have been filling up. >> how you doing? >> i'm blessed. >> good to see you today. this is my buddy. this is emanuel ortiz. you doing good in here? >> yes. >> are you getting used to this cell block and it being -- >> well, these cells are larger than the ones we used to have
back over there. >> so you're liking it better? >> it's better. much better. >> it is better? >> yes. >> different. >> manuel ortiz, convicted of murdering his wife and her friend, has been on the row since 1996. >> if you don't exercise your mind or your body, you know, it starts to deteriorate. we try to use push-ups, you know, squats, things of that nature, because imagine 40 years in the cage, you know. it takes a toll on the body and on the mind. >> all right. there's my frenchman. you still seeing that french woman? she still writing you? >> men have spent up to two decades here, and while some pursue their cases until the last breath, others would just as soon give up. >> there are a lot of guys here, you know, i can't mention no names, y would like to get it over.
you wake up with a -- with this, i call it a gorilla, you know, a 2,000-pound gorilla on my back every morning. it carries a death penalty, you know. it's something that you can't -- reality is reality. >> until recently contact visits, a chance for family members to touch death row inmates, have been prohibited. >> let me tell you, these guys have mamas and sisters and children and grandmas and all that. i don't think they ought to only get to touch you when you're dead, after you're executed. and so i'm pretty passionate about letting them have that contact visit if i know security is going to prevail. but you're not doing it as much for them as you're doing it for their family. and a lot of people misunderstand that and think, oh, he shouldn't have a contact visit. well, his mother didn't commit the murder, you know. and you have to think about all sides of it when you're making decisions. >> contact visits or not, their time at angola ends at the death
house. the method, lethal injection. >> at this point, we get them strapped down and get the shoulders strapped down and then i'm going to close the curtain and out comes the emts, and they're going to start the ivs. we have some 60 minutes to do it. there are the two phones. and they go to the department of corrections and to the governor's mangum, but they never ring. i start -- i give a signal and nod my head to start the process, and they'll start pushing the drugs, and then it takes about a minute and a half to breathe the two breaths usually, pshew-pshew, and then they'll stop breathing. could you find a vein with that much pressure on him? in the case of john brown, since the iv was in his neck, he got a rush and that was the first drug and he kind of raised up in the straps. i was holding his hand -- he wanted me to hold his hand. so i wound up having to put my
thumb under here and push him down with my hand, push his shoulder to the table and hold that so the iv wouldn't rub on the trap and dislodge and but at the same time, i'm holding his hand. you kind of get in a conflict with yourself, you're holding him down, but holding his hand to give comfort, again, i couldn't be there to hold the victim's hand or i would have, so do what you can here. >> warden cain has overseen six executions during his tenure. death by lethal injection might have been temporarily stalled, but death by incarceration never falters. the population is aging, with hundreds of men 60 years and older. even they dream of freedom. >> i got hopes. i just got denied a hearing, a hearing from the department of parole.
i wrote them two weeks later, and they sent back said, at this time we can't put you on parole because of the nature of your crime, which is never going to change. you see? never. so here i am with hope and faith. if not, then i'll die here. >> since death is a reality most men here must face, the casket shop never lacks for work. >> 30 years, you know, as time goes on, people get older, and i've buried, you know, a bunch of friends of mines up here, you know, people i've made friends with in 30 years. >> sideways, get your fingers under there. >> after a man fell out of the bottom of a poorly made coffin in 1997, warden cain opened the casket building workshop. >> you can have a good life in prison. you can have a good life anywhere.
it's what you make of it, you know. i mean, prison, it's a terrible aspect that you have to be away from the people thaw love, you know, your family, your children. my daughter wasn't born when i got locked up, and now i'm a grandfather. >> some deceased are picked up by family members and buried as free men. for most, there's point lookout. >> definitely bad to die in prison, but ultimately we all have to die. they have a nice service, and they're buried with dignity and respect, you know, in angola. coming up, the battle to keep the prison clean requires a shakedown team. >> there's probably not a spot in this cell that something hasn't been found in. >> sometimes they win. sometimes they don't.
>> it's really amazing just where all they can hide stuff. see if we can "stitch" together a better deal. that's a hint, antoine. ooh! see what anandra did? booking your flight and hotel at the same time gets you prices hotels and airlines won't let expedia show separately. book it. major wow factor! where you book matters. expedia.
hi, here's what's happening. les hinton resigned, the latest in the phone hacking scandal. hugo chavez is returning to cuba to start a new phase of cancer treatment. he had a tumor removed in june. j. lo an marc anthony are divorcing after seven years of marriage. now back to "lockup." while the b-line families celebrate the holidays, for many of the inmates, it can be a lonely time. >> christmas is a hard time in prison. it is. these people, they're human too. they're inmates, but they're humans. we have to be a little more diligent about watching out for mental health issues and that
kind of thing around christmastime, because they do -- it's depressing. >> i really like christmas, but if i stop long enough and i think about it, i'll get teary-eyed. but it will pass. january 1st, it will be all over with. >> there is no place in angola where the spirit of christmas is stronger than at the toy shop. the toys are distributed to needy children throughout louisiana. >> what we're going to make for you now is a little car. >> it's basically an all-year process. the only time we stop is when we run out of wood. >> it's the best job in the prison. you're doing something you want to do, and you're doing something to help children.
it's a lot of fun. this is the time of year you enjoy being in the toy shop. when i was small, i didn't -- very seldom did i have any toys. although i'm in prison, i'm still a human being, and i love christmas, and i love children. it makes us all feel good. >> when you mount these on here, that's your axles for your -- you can see how the car can ride, okay? now you've got a little car. >> while hard work and faith in god help keep the prison running smoothly, order cannot be maintained without a shakedown crew in daily pursuit of inmates not wanting to play by the rules. >> we shake down every day, kind of random as far as where we shake down. you've got 18,000 acres to
cover. they're in these cells 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. there's probably not a spot in this cell that something hasn't been found in. it's really amazing just where all they can hide stuff. >> you can go back in there. >> do they know you're coming? >> no. when we get to the gate, the majority of them probably will. >> finding contraband such as food or nonprison approved merchandise can lead to write-ups. the less severe have few consequences. the more severe get you back to camp j. random searches are the norm. the odd tip or simply good police work are most effective. >> tips are good. we gets tips, a lot of tips.
the majority of times we find stuff out of luck. you just kind of come across it, right time, right place. >> once upon a time, weapons were required for an inmate to survive. today, drugs are the most common contraband found. >> found a syringe. use that to shoot up with. can't pin it on nobody, you know what i mean? so you just confiscate it and write an unusual on it and let the wardens know about it. >> the only thing i'm going to ask you when i'm talking to you, be straight up with me. all right? don't make me find out different when i leave here. okay? >> i told you yesterday -- >> did you have this at your party? >> that's where some of this stuff came from. >> man, don't lie to me. see that right there, that makes me very angry. needles, where are they at? >> wallet. >> okay. see, i could have just stuck myself with that. i was very, very close to it. and i don't know what you do with this so don't do that, okay? >> i keep them right here. >> don't keep them there.
you need to put them somebody if somebody comes to shake your stuff down, make sure you tell them you have needles in this box, okay? >> that's the only ones i have right there. >> although needles are not allowed in personal lockers, they rarely result in a write-up. >> what's this for? >> antenna wire for my radio. >> you don't do tattoos, do you? >> no. >> none? >> no, i can't draw at all. >> why do you keep your antenna in your wallet? >> good place to keep it, so i know where it's at. it's right on top. >> i'm going to check on a few things, and i'm going to get back with you. >> i didn't lie to you about anything you asked me about. >> i just want to make sure you're telling me the truth. that's all. >> all right. >> all right. we'll check on some things. >> that's how they do us in here. you see how they handle our stuff? just throw it around and stuff.
and then try to tell me i did something wrong. i'm just living, you know what i'm saying? i don't have anything here i'm not supposed to have. all this is official. >> how do you feel now? after they go through all that? >> i'm violated, man. checking all my tattoos and stuff, asking me where i'm from. like that makes a difference. i don't have anything in this box that violates the codes here. keep telling me about my tattoos and stuffer. this is free where i work, you know what i'm saying? i got this in california. i got this in new orleans. been around. you know what i'm saying? people playing games because we living out of boxes. i'm efficient with my stuff. there's nothing in here that's violating. i'm used to free world steak and shrimp. they got me eating out of a bag and a box. >> while no contraband turned up in donald logan's shakedown, a pipe made from a pen is found in another dorm. >> it was found in an inmate's box, and you can smell it. apparently, they have been using it to smoke marijuana. so i'm going to take the investigators and get them to
crack it open and see if they can get some of the residue out of it and test it. >> a full-time criminal investigation team has been set up at angola with drug-testing capabilities. >> since we don't have the red in color, but it could have been positive for marijuana but we may not have enough substance. so we'll call this test an inconclusive test. >> just because it didn't test positive doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't being used for narcotics. it just means once it's smoked and it's burnt, it's harder to test than something that hasn't already been burnt. >> but he'll still be charged with contraband for the ink pen, because he used it for another source than what it's supposed to be used for. >> today's second catch appears much more promising. >> i got to bet lunch that's marijuana. >> the investigation unit is led by retired police officer colonel ken norris. >> we're like an internal affairs unit within this prison. we investigate everything involving the correctional
officers as well as the inmates. that's everything from, you know, stealing bacon to murder. >> while a certain percentage of contraband is brought in by prison staff, most comes from prisoner relationships. >> most of the drugs that come through come through by girlfriends, wives, family members. they can bring it in inside their false teeth, they can bring it in in body cavities. there's all kinds of ways they can bring it in. if the dogs don't hit on it at the gate, then it goes through, and we have no mechanism to stop that. if it's positive, it will be the same color or close to the same color as what you see there on that little package. it will be a red. as soon as she breaks the second ampoule. see that? so this is some good stuff. what i found, have a very merry christmas and an absolutely happy new year. >> coming up, 6,000 inmates trapped in orleans parish prison
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a visit. >> i'm from louisiana, i'm coming from jefferson parish. i'm on a parole violation. i was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. it happens. >> in the days following katrina, 6,000 inmates were trapped in orleans parish prison. wilford martin was one of them. >> when the levees broke is when we noticed that whole businesses outside of the very prison were under water. no sergeants were around, no guards. we don't know where they were at. we were just stuck on the fourth floor. that's when we realized that we were stuck here. it seemed like life or death. >> five days after the levees broke, they were finally rescued by warden cain and his tactical team. >> we came here the first night to get the first 950 prisoners, but the water was coming up.
we barely got through all of this, all of this water. and we got down here to this underpass, and right here was a man laying dead. we put the scaffold right here, and it went down from this side. you can see the rope's still there, and we would lower it, inmates would climb down that scaffold, and we would line them up on this road, about 6,000. probably the largest mass movement obviously of inmates in the country. we would put the boats in the water right down here under this overpass and run them all the way around here. meanwhile, the folks on top, first they threw stuff at us. that's one of the things they threw off that bridge at us, it's still right here, do you remember that? that's a spear. >> transported by boat and then bus, close to 2,000 parish prisoners ended up at angola. some perhaps simply victims of bad luck. >> my name is paul kunkle from toledo, ohio. we were on a long vacation, about 35 days, traveling across country, all the way down to cabo san lucas, mexico, where i have a time share. we came back through arizona and
texas where i was looking for property. we went to new orleans to bourbon street. i fell down, and my friend picked me up, and we were picked up by the new orleans police and accused of being drunk in public. i've been here 21 days. the first few days we were in the new orleans county jail. we were left without food or water for three days. near riots broke out. there were people breaking windows, starting fires. most of us were afraid that we were going to die there, it was so horrible. water was up to our shoulders by the time they got us out of there. they put us in small boats, took us to this bridge area. i saw my friend for about two minutes, first thing he said to me, he goes, this is a goddamned nightmare. >> while a nightmare for some, for others, including the first women inmates to sleep at angola in 44 years, a blessing. >> i was so weak, i couldn't
even -- i could barely walk when they got me. they put me in the boat to come out of there. we had about that much water to drink within three days and one sandwich. the warden came and got us and put us all like in a little fishing boat and took us up under the bridge, and as soon as we got there, they fed us, gave us water. >> what's the lesson you learned from all of this? >> oh, stay the hell out of jail. >> sadly, in the years since katrina, crime has skyrocketed in new orleans, and the prisons are fuller than ever. >> can't go back to that same crowd you hang with when you come out of five years of prison because you're going to go back to do the same thing. and that's where i ended up. going back, hanging out with that crowd, thinking everything was school trying to make up for these lost years when i was should have been moving forward with my life and hanging out with my little girl. it's a transition. i got my verdict. i'm on a mission now. hearing my mom pray. i should have listened.
but i wouldn't listen. locked here in this block to rot in another prison. ♪ when he comes out i shall be like him ♪ >> come on, come on. >> moral rehabilitation is the only true rehabilitation. you teach them the skills and trades and to read and write, and all that, but we just have a smarter criminal unless we have a moral component with it. >> accused by some of turning the prison into a christian revival camp, warden cain has a simple response. >> one guy brought up about the operation of church and state. i said to him, don't let your inflexibility make you ineffective. we don't care what religion you are, we just need this church because this is an island of freedom and we get them in here and then we can start working on them to be a more moral person and our recidivism rates go down, and that equals less victims of violent crime, which is what we're after. if we save one, it's worth it all. ♪
one is worth it. and so no one, no one in his right mind would object to trying to have morality in a prison unless he's an idiot. >> coming up on "lockup: angola" -- >> hey, rick, how long you been here? >> i've been here 24 years. >> time at angola runs out for two men. >> i will maintain my mental stability. >> one walks, the other stays forever. [ male announcer ] built like a volkswagen. the 2011 tiguan. [ grunts ]
one month after, billy mccoy, age 63 had a heart attack. one day later he died. >> is anybody else like to share something that you want to do at this time? anybody else? >> defiant until the end, billy, better known by his nickname, left a strong impression on his fellow inmates. >> a lot of people didn't
understand. >> he died in prison and with a lot of us, they have to undergo if the situations and circumstances don't change. you want to leave a legacy. we have the opportunity to leave a legacy. we have the things we are doing and how we are thinking. look forward to the future and when it's said and done, they have something to look forward to.
his life is here and now gone on to be with the father. that should just be testimony for the rest of you that we conduct ourselves as we should and as moral people. we perpet yut this throughout the community >> earth to earth, ashes to ashes, and dust to dust. >> while one man is buried, another gets a second chance. >> you happy today? >> i'm thrilled. >> already, ricky.
>> take care, man. >> we are going to interrupt this service for one moment. this is a spin doctor, kicking it from the station that kicks behind the bricks. incarceration station in the nation. we got somebody here who wants to just say hello to everybody and actually he wanted to say goodbye. rick, how long have you been here? >> i have been here 24 years. i have been here since 1984 and locked up 27 years. >> you have been saying that all the while that you were innocent. >> i said that from the first day. they tried to get me to say i was innocent, but i couldn't
lie. i couldn't say i did something i didn't do. it was a nice stay and i didn't really want it, but i got through the part. dna cut me loose and i just want to say goodbye to the inmate population. everybody at camp f, camp d, camp c. keep your head up. don't lose hope. one day it will be you. >> just remember, one. in the throat and in the face. he saves for everything we do. one