tv Lockup Raw MSNBC February 6, 2016 2:00am-2:31am PST
due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. >> msnbc takes you behind the walls of america's most notorious prisons to a world of chaos and danger. now, the scenes you've never seen. "lockup: raw." the agony of what it is in here. the torture, the poke, the prod. the cost that you know what i mean, frustration that you never -- you know, you feel like you can't release. how do people release frustration? you build your body. you build your muscles. you sling ink, you tattoo. you do all that stuff. >> some use the time wisely.
>> d.j. money. >> i mean, prison is extremely boring when you're locked up in one place, extremely small place, where it's extremely crowded. and there's just really nothing. >> this is the living space right here. >> it's like telling your kid to go to his or her room and say, that's where you're going to stay. >> we haven't met too many inmates on "lockup" who praise prison life but they all agree. one thing that prison life is perfect for is getting into shape. and over the years we've filmed some amazing footage of inmates working out and pumping iron. >> for a long time i didn't work out because i thought it was cliche. dudes come to prison, they work out. you get big and strong and all that stuff.
and then just after a while i just -- i had too much idle time and kept getting in trouble. a buddy of mine started talking to me about lifting. i just got into it and now it's more take out my frustrations down here. that's it more than anything. it's a stress reliever. >> i'm burnt, man. >> you work everything. all week long. you get every body part at least once. like, on monday, you have a bench day, and tuesday you might do shoulders, lats and traps. wednesday you do arms and thursday you might have another heavy bench day. you get a leg day in there somewheres. >> in the survival of the fittest environment, the weight yard is one of the few places where inmates can find encouragement. >> come on. want another one? let's get another one in. push it, push it, push it, push it. >> that right there, 215 pounds. >> that's a lot of weight. >> yeah. only weigh 170.
so that's about double my weight. a lot of these guys they motivate you to lift that kind of weights. you know? get off the bar. get off the bar. come over here, come mess with the big dogs. >> you know what i mean, get that money. >> we've met other inmates whose disciplinary problems keep them off the yard. but even confined to their cells, they're still determined to work out. >> the inmates that succeed are generally the ones that don't let their bodies completely deteriorate on them. >> focus on the street where i'm going to be at again one day. that's how i get by every day. >> they are constantly coming up with interesting ways to exercise. most of it is calisthenics. >> one, two, three, four. >> a lot of the inmates will fill bags full of water for weightlifting. >> and that kind of creativity is important, because some prisons have permanently removed weights from the yard.
>> so that's why we're out here trying to improvise and stuff. you know, lifting garbage cans and things like that. it took a good wholesome thing from us. it's like, something that was filling people's time and taking away negative energy. took those out. >> some prison authorities see all this added muscle as a potential security threat. but others see benefits to having weights on the yard. >> i think the important thing for inmates is to keep them occupied. that's what we try to do here at the institution. >> john alt was warden at the anamosa state penitentiary at the time we shot there. >> any time you can have inmates participate in some type of meaningful activity it makes
their time easier. it makes staff's time a lot easier. i'd much rather have them participate in something positive than sitting around with nothing to do and talk about maybe how to pull an armed robbery or plotting against us or fellow staff members. >> during our shoot at indiana state prison, authorities even allowed for a weightlifting competition. >> lyons, 495. lyons now lifting at 495. >> other penitentiaries get that weight up. that's how they're doing it. get your weight up. >> 625. >> 625. on deck. we push. on deck. >> let's go! go! >> good lift. good lift. you got it. >> of course, in prison, there's
also a practical side to staying in shape. >> if you ever come against somebody who wants to approach you in a negative way, attack you in a fight or something, you don't want to be the person that's going to run out of air first. the person that runs out of air first is the person that gets hurt. >> in the combat zone, you have to be combat ready and we all know that any minute this yard, in two seconds, can explode into violence. >> bill hankins, a long-term inmate at colorado state penitentiary knows about sudden explosions. during a routine strip search, hankins snapped. >> i used to get real frustrated behind these doors. it used to drive me to where i'd be worked up, ooh, wanting to get out. >> hankins is serving life without parole for killing a grocery clerk during a robbery. in this super max facility he is not allowed contact with other inmates, but he is released from his cell for an hour of daily
solitary exercise. it's what keeps him going. >> being locked down every day for 23 hours a day and coming out in a little room to work out, you know it was difficult first couple of years, but then i realized, you know, i'm just giving myself high blood pressure. >> while "lockup" crews have shot dozens of workout routines, the strangest has to have been at the miami-dade county jail by two inmates who covered their faces to remain anonymous. >> with the arm right here, and the chest. i'm a trainer. you know? i got him this big. >> after a round of what they called bed lifts, they showed us how they do chinups in the showers. but correctional staff took a dim view of their workout routine. >> yo, man, you got to get off that bar. >> that's it? >> that's it for that. no more of that workout stuff. ♪ i've been pulling time in nashville ♪
coming up on "lockup: raw." >> writing music in prison is just my life. >> how one inmate copes with the stark conditions of prison life. and later -- >> mentality of most inmates is i'm on death row, there's nothing you can do to me. >> violence and hopelessness on death row. ♪ (cell phone rings) where are you? well the squirrels are back in the attic. mom? your dad won't call an exterminator... can i call you back, mom? he says it's personal this time... if you're a mom, you call at the worst time. it's what you do. if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. it's what you do. where are you? it's very loud there. are you taking a zumba class?
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out. at san quentin we met one inmate who compared it to a once popular tv show. >> it's like that little show "cheers" where everybody, you know your name. [ bleep ] you come back and [ bleep ], hey, what's up? [ bleep ]. you see your friends. you feel like, well, i'm cool here. these are my boys. you know what i'm saying? they know this is home. >> but most inmates hold a much different opinion. >> prisons are hate factories. they can't produce anything but hate. all you have is hate, loneliness, greed and -- just misery. >> when we met gerald mccullough at the river bend national security institution in nashville, tennessee, he was halfway through a 12-year sentence on a sexual offense charge. >> there's no way out. there's just nothing to do.
this is just a total waste of someone's life. >> despite his pessimism, mccullagh had found a productive outlet to express his pain. ♪ they say it's raining in denver ♪ ♪ that it's really kind of cold ♪ ♪ but i'm just pulling time in nashville ♪ ♪ how am i supposed to know >> shooting in a prison in nashville, the home of country music, we decided it would be great if we could find a country singer, and so we kind of made the call out to the other inmates and correctional officers, and they came up with mccullagh, and he turned out to be pretty good. ♪ talked about me how it never did seem right ♪
♪ i've been pulling time in nashville ♪ ♪ wasting days and wasting nights ♪ >> writing music in prison is just my life. i don't sit down to write a song. something hits me, and my best songs come with about two minutes, in about two or three minutes i have an excellent song, and i wrote "pulling time in nashville" at the walls, which is tennessee state prison which is shut down now. ♪ til the family comes and sees me ♪ ♪ they can spare some other time ♪ >> i let my feelings out in my song, and i write old-time country. i don't write anything but old-time country. when i'm under pressure and
depressed, i write all the time. all i do is write my songs and play my guitar and study the bible and try to stay out of trouble. ♪ >> though confined to prison, mccullagh confided he still had dreams. ♪ with a fool >> i just want to go into a studio and cut a couple albums, and try to make it. what i plan to do is get out and go to church and find happiness. and happiness is valuable. because there's not really a whole lot of happy people that i know. we may smile and laugh and joke but we're not happy. it's hard to be happy in a place like this. ♪ since she's gone i never thought i'd ever be this scared ♪ ♪ when i close my eyes and watch you lying there ♪
♪ when i close my eyes and watch you lying there ♪ next on "lockup: raw" -- >> i chose to be executed by firing squad. >> fear, despair and violence. "lockup" crews travel to death row. >> as i'm applying the handcuffs, he grabbed my arm and pulled it in real quick and he ran a razor blade down my arm.
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but it's the end of the row for some of the most dangerous inmates in the country. more than 600 condemned men await their execution dates here on death row. at california's san quentin state prison. in many of the prisons "lockup" crews have visited, death row is a quiet place where inmates are much more concerned with filing appeals than causing trouble. that's not the case here. [ alarm sounding ] >> me, myself, i consider every inmate in here a potential threat. >> our producer met two officers assigned to keep watch in the adjustment center, where san quentin's most violent death row
inmates are housed. the daily grind here is bleak for both inmates and staff. >> mentality of most inmates in this unit is, i'm on death row, there's nothing you can do to me. if i assault you today, there's nothing you can do to me tomorrow. you can only kill me once. >> assaults are so common here, any contact with inmates even serving meals requires officers to suit up in full riot gear. >> but that doesn't stop them from gassing. which is where they throw a variety of substances, can be anything, urine, feces. >> any time you open the food port, there's an opening for that inmate to assault you. >> death row at san quentin is a really scary place and the adjustment center is the scariest place of death row. they allowed us to shoot a feeding. i had to get there before dawn and suit up, and even with all the protective gear i had to wear to shoot, i mean, they wouldn't let me go beyond a
certain point to shoot it. >> and the footage camera operator mike elwell shot captures the extreme precautions staff must follow. it take as team of three officers to serve this breakfast of pancakes and grits. >> the inmate might try and grab your arm, pull it into the cell so they can break it or stab it, cut it, slash it. >> it reminded me of feeding, you know, vicious animals. it was a particularly creepy experience. >> we found a much quieter and calmer atmosphere when we shot on death row inside the river bend maximum security institution in tennessee. but correctional staff warned our producer, appearances can be deceiving. >> as you see here, it's real quiet, but that leads to complacency. that is the worst enemy of a staff person working on death row. >> while most of the inmates here play by the rules, our crew was told there was one especially dangerous exception. >> he has cut two of our officers here. slashed the throat of another inmate. set fire to his cell. very dangerous inmate. most dangerous inmate we have here right now.
we have to treat him with extra caution because he will hurt you or kill you any opportunity he gets. >> that inmate, convicted killer henry hodges, requires a team of five correctional officers to escort him whenever he leaves his cell. >> that particular death row inmate was a harsh reality check for me. >> officer robert moseley was one of hodges' victims. >> got medical on unit. took the pipe flap down, went to apply hans cuffs, i got distracted. as i was applying the handcuffs he grabbed my arm real quick and pulled it in and ran a razor blade down my arm. i didn't know what happened until i pulled my arm out and saw the injury. >> moseley's slashed arm required 59 stitches. and the scar isn't only physical. >> the psychological effect never goes away. i think you learn to adjust to it. but you can't take this job for
granted. these guys are not here but for the right reasons, and the reality of it every day is there. keep your eyes on the inmates at all time. don't ever take your eye off them especially on death row because these guys got nothing to lose if they were to injury you. >> hodges declined to talk to our producers on camera. ironically, the prison videotapes his every move. >> we film him everywhere he goes when he comes out of that cell just like you're filming me. so we can maintain some kind of discipline. >> we're secure. >> but when we traveled to utah state prison, we met one condemned man who was willing to speak with us. at the time of our interview, ralph menzes had been on death row 17 years. >> i remember when ralph menzes was first brought to the interview room so we could talk to him. they're setting up the lights getting the microphone set making sure the lighting is just
so and it's important to establish a rapport very quickly and ralph and i start to have a little bit of small talk, and i'll never forget. i asked him, hey, what are you watching on tv these days? and he told me that he was a big fan of "the oc." >> i see "oc" all the time. >> yeah? >> i like that. >> what's your -- got to be honest, i love "oc," too. what's your favorite character? >> my favorite character is kelly rowan. >> yeah? >> she's pretty hot. >> menzes' interest in women became more disturbing when we learned the details of his crime. >> ralph's crime allegedly was a brutal one. kidnapped a female from a convenience store and took her up one of the canyons, tied her to a tree and then cut her throat and then left her there. >> well, i've always maintained my innocence. i've done a lot of things in my life, you know, that i'm not proud of, but this particular one is not one of them. i just come to the conclusion that karma bit me in the ass. i personally wished they would
either overturn my case, my conviction, or execute me and get it over with. whereas now you don't know if it's going to be five years down the road, if it's going to be two years or ten years, what they're going to decide. and that's really hard. >> in utah, if you were convicted before a certain date you were actually given a choice between lethal injection and the firing squad. and when i asked ralph the very sobering question of what method have you chosen for the execution, he, in no uncertain terms, said -- >> i chose to be executed by firing squad. because the only other option here is lethal injection. that's what they do to dogs when they don't want them. i'd rather sit up and take it. have them look at me. they're going to shoot me, look at who they're killing.
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