thumbnail of America's Prison Crisis: Monuments to Failure
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<v Announcer>This special program was funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting <v Announcer>through a grant from the Pacific Mountain Network Program Fund. <v "Rocky">The first time I was here, they had us packed <v "Rocky">in dormitories, double bunks. <v "Rocky">People just- You couldn't move around. <v "Rocky">It was just solid people just kept us churning all <v "Rocky">the time. <v Unnamed Law Official>You can't take people anywhere, much less violent people and just keep <v Unnamed Law Official>compressing them and compresing them without worrying about some point you're going to <v Unnamed Law Official>hit critical mass and it's going to explode. <v Another Unamed Inmate>You got 110 people sharing 1 latrine.
<v Another Unamed Inmate>You got 4 showerheads, man. If that ain't overcrowding- <v Unnamed Commentator>No society wants to face the failures it produces. <v Unnamed Commentator>So to me, it is understandable that <v Unnamed Commentator>people don't look- take a closer look at the makeup of the people behind <v Unnamed Commentator>bars. <v Unnamed, off-camera commentator>Keep a dog in a cage all night, it comes ?inaudible? <v Unnamed, off-camera commentator>American ?inaudible? <v Unnamed, off-camera commentator 2>This is our life, man, this is how we got to deal with it. <v Unnamed, off-camera commentator 3>It's not right. <v Unnamed, off-camera commentator 4>Not working right. <v Unnamed, off-camera correctional officer>Come on Evans, let's go. <v Tom Wicker, host>I'm Tom Wicker. This is a story about prisons in the United States, <v Tom Wicker, host>specifically about our state prison systems. <v Tom Wicker, host>They're mostly in the grip of a crisis so deep, so pervasive as to border <v Tom Wicker, host>on disaster. This happens to be the New Mexico maximum security prison just
<v Tom Wicker, host>outside Santa Fe. <v Tom Wicker, host>The new look in prisons designed for riot control with the latest in high tech <v Tom Wicker, host>security systems. <v Tom Wicker, host>But all is not well here or in other prisons like this, in growing numbers <v Tom Wicker, host>all over the nation. To the eye, they are a far cry from the old fortress <v Tom Wicker, host>prisons built in the 19th century or early in this one, made famous in <v Tom Wicker, host>Hollywood films of the '30s. <v Tom Wicker, host>Places like California's San Quentin. <v Tom Wicker, host>But appearances deceive. <v Unnamed inmate actor>[Clip from "San Quentin" starts here:] Pretty nice campus isn't it? <v Unnamed inmate actor 2>Yeah, it's big. <v Unnamed Inmate actor>Well, it may look big to you now. Wait until you've been here for a stretch, you'll feel <v Unnamed Inmate actor>like you're in a telephone booth with 4 other guys and no telephone. [End clip from "San Quentin"] <v Tom Wicker, host>New Mexico's new prison was erected out of the blood and rubble of one of the worst <v Tom Wicker, host>prison riots in American history. <v Tom Wicker, host>Even now, the images linger in the minds of many Americans.
<v Tom Wicker, host>February 2nd, 1980, shortly after midnight. <v Tom Wicker, host>Inmates in the grossly overcrowded and mal-administered Penitentiary of New Mexico <v Tom Wicker, host>seized control of the institution. <v Tom Wicker, host>Inside the walls, unspeakable carnage and bloodshed followed. <v Tom Wicker, host>Thirty six hours later, officials regained control, but 33 <v Tom Wicker, host>inmates were dead, murdered by their fellow inmates. <v Tom Wicker, host>The prison itself was a virtual ruin. <v Tom Wicker, host>8 years earlier in upstate New York, another historic uprising inside the 30 <v Tom Wicker, host>foot walls of the state prison at Attica brought me a personal journey into the dark <v Tom Wicker, host>corridors of the so-called corrections system. <v Unnamed radio correspondent>5 a.m. September 13th. <v Unnamed radio correspondent>We're on the roof of A Block, waiting for the assault to begin.
<v Tom Wicker, host>For several days in the late summer of 1971, I was part of a group of <v Tom Wicker, host>unofficial negotiators who tried unsuccessfully, as it turned out, to arrange <v Tom Wicker, host>a peaceful settlement between state officials and inmates rioting at Attica. <v Tom Wicker, host>When state troopers were ordered by Governor Nelson Rockefeller to storm the prison, <v Tom Wicker, host>39 people, including 10 hostages, were killed in 6 <v Tom Wicker, host>minutes of indiscriminate gunfire. <v Tom Wicker, host>Could New Mexico have learned from Attica, probably? <v Tom Wicker, host>Could other states learned from both Attica and New Mexico? <v Tom Wicker, host>Clearly. <v Tom Wicker, host>Have they? With few exceptions, evidently not. <v Tom Wicker, host>For reasons ranging from serious overcrowding to inadequate health, <v Tom Wicker, host>rehabilitation, and work programs, roughly 2 thirds of the states <v Tom Wicker, host>are under some kind of federal court order to make vast improvements in their prisons.
<v Tom Wicker, host>To put it bluntly, federal judges across the nation have found that confinement <v Tom Wicker, host>in the great majority of our prisons amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, <v Tom Wicker, host>unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. <v Tom Wicker, host>How did a society devoted to human rights fall into this situation? <v Tom Wicker, host>Part of the answer lies in political neglect and social indifference. <v Tom Wicker, host>Who cares about the outcast? <v "Rocky">You can't take us in here and treat us inhuman and treat us well <v "Rocky">below substandard and then expect us to be nice people when <v "Rocky">we get back to ?inaudible? because all that is built up <v "Rocky">must be released. I haven't killed anybody. <v "Rocky">Sure. I went out and I did something and I wrote checks and I <v "Rocky">got money for it and stuff. Is that the way you punish somebody that writes checks, <v "Rocky">you torture him and then you put him back in society and say, OK, now you're going to be <v "Rocky">normal?
<v Daniel Vasquez>The issue of incarceration is everybody's business. <v Daniel Vasquez>It's not just my business. I wasn't born a warden. <v Tom Wicker, host>Daniel Vasquez, warden at California's San Quentin Prison. <v Daniel Vasquez>Our business is out of sight, out of mind. And the only time it comes to mind is when <v Daniel Vasquez>there's an escape that causes, attracts nationwide attention. <v Daniel Vasquez>Then they, then, then the attention is focused on the prisons for just a short period of <v Daniel Vasquez>time. But we're a business that's out of sight and out of mind. <v Daniel Vasquez>And it shouldn't be that way. <v Orville Pung>Corrections has no constituency. It's a politically negative activity. <v Orville Pung>You don't get more votes ever for having a good correction system. <v Tom Wicker, host>Minnesota Commissioner of Corrections Orville Pung. <v Orville Pung>No governor, no legislator I know of has ever run on the ticket <v Orville Pung>of the of his or her or their good correctional system. <v Orville Pung>Doesn't get any votes. Nobody cares about it. <v Orville Pung>A bad correctional system gets in the media because the media has a high interest, for <v Orville Pung>whatever reason, extremely high interest in prisons all over the United States. <v Orville Pung>They're fascinated by it. It's always good ink or it's always good tape.
<v Orville Pung>A prison. <v Unnamed Correctional Officer Actor>[Clip from "San Quentin" starts here:] Hello, ?inaudible? City Press? Let me talk to Slim Mackie. Hello <v Unnamed Correctional Officer Actor>Slim, sharpen up your pencil I got a story for you. <v "Jerry">People get this preconceived notion around the penitentiary is full of these <v "Jerry">animals and that's why they're there. <v "Jerry">Most of us never made the media. [End clip of "San Quentin on-screen.] Some of us might <v "Jerry">have, you know, but usually all you ever hear about are those sensational crimes where a <v "Jerry">guy goes out and rapes and kills 10 or 20 people and they run into their voting polls and <v "Jerry">they pass laws, bad laws that affect 95 other guys who have nothing to do with <v "Jerry">that. You know, yet they're going to sit in here for most of their lives. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>I think there is a general fear and ignorance in the populace. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>There's no question about that. But I think that the media and, and politicians <v Roger Morris, Journalist>in particular could overcome that fear and ignorance very easily. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>They could make a strong case that safe prisons are also economic prisons, are also
<v Roger Morris, Journalist>enlightened prisons. <v Tom Wicker, host>Beyond political neglect, Americans' attitudes toward crime have toughened in recent <v Tom Wicker, host>years. State lawmakers around the country have responded with so-called anticrime <v Tom Wicker, host>measures, including stiffer and less flexible sentencing laws that put more <v Tom Wicker, host>people behind bars for longer periods of time. <v Tom Wicker, host>It's called determinate sentencing. <v Justice Mary Walters>And that, of course, removes from the court any discretion. <v Justice Mary Walters>To consider the facts surrounding that person's criminal <v Justice Mary Walters>activity. <v Tom Wicker, host>New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Mary Walters. <v Justice Mary Walters>As a result, everybody goes to prison. <v Justice Mary Walters>Some of them have mandatory additional sentencings <v Justice Mary Walters>if there were firms involved. <v Justice Mary Walters>So in addition to the basic sentence, the courts are required
<v Justice Mary Walters>to add the additional enhanced sentence. <v Justice Mary Walters>My thought has always been that all you need for that sort of <v Justice Mary Walters>disposition is a kind of a cash register. <v Justice Mary Walters>Up on the, up on the judge's desk and he punches in <v Justice Mary Walters>the crime and he looks to see whether it's a first or a <v Justice Mary Walters>fourth degree felony. And he punches the next button and then up pops the sentence. <v Justice Mary Walters>And that individual is sentenced according to that mechanical <v Justice Mary Walters>means. <v "Rocky">In New Mexico, if I go out and I joy ride in your car, that's a felony. <v "Rocky">And I get time for it. But I'm convicted of a felony. <v "Rocky">Then if I get arrested for writing a check, I'm a habitual criminal <v "Rocky">under the laws in Mexico, which can give me extra time. <v "Rocky">Even though the crime that happened was a nonviolent crime, that <v "Rocky">it might have been a very petty crime, it's the felony conviction.
<v "Rocky">It doesn't say whether it was a murder felony or a nothing felony. <v "Rocky">It is a felony. Therefore, it's worth more time, yet I might have already <v "Rocky">done that time completely discharged, paid my debt in full. <v "Rocky">I will be made to pay again a later. <v Justice Mary Walters>If the man must go to prison, sentences have become longer <v Justice Mary Walters>because of the this perception of the way of handling it. <v Justice Mary Walters>And the people going to prison are going in greater <v Justice Mary Walters>numbers every day of every month of every year. <v Justice Mary Walters>And the persons who are already there are not being released, which they cannot be <v Justice Mary Walters>under the determinate sentencing basis. <v Justice Mary Walters>What is left but overcrowding? <v Tom Wicker, host>Minnesota, it has one of the nation's lowest crime rates, one of the
<v Tom Wicker, host>lowest per capita imprisonment rates in the nation. <v Tom Wicker, host>And something almost unheard of these days, more prison space <v Tom Wicker, host>than it needs. It has done so with policies from rational <v Tom Wicker, host>sentencing to keeping adult and juvenile offenders in the community <v Tom Wicker, host>rather than casting them out of it and into prison. <v Tom Wicker, host>Debra Dailey is the director of Minnesota's Sentencing Guidelines Commission. <v Debra Dailey>The movement first was toward a system that would be more strictly determinate. <v Debra Dailey>That is, the legislature would by by statute, define what sentences should <v Debra Dailey>be and that that would be more mandatory, more determinate <v Debra Dailey>type of sentencing. <v Debra Dailey>But those that were still highly in favor of the indeterminate system fought <v Debra Dailey>with that notion of going to a strict determinate system, which would remove all the <v Debra Dailey>discretion from from all from the judicial branch and <v Debra Dailey>essentially from the executive branch, meaning the parole, parole board, and putting it
<v Debra Dailey>on the hands of legislature by defining what the sentence should be. <v Debra Dailey>So the compromise was sentencing guidelines because with sentencing <v Debra Dailey>guidelines, you could provide a more determinate sentence. <v Debra Dailey>That is, you would have a structure that would define what the, what the presumed <v Debra Dailey>sentence should be for the typical case. <v Debra Dailey>At the same time, you provide some flexibility for judges to sentence apart <v Debra Dailey>from those prescribed sentences, when the circumstances just did not <v Debra Dailey>seem to fit with the typical case. <v Justice Mary Walters>I'm impressed with the guidelines that have been set in Minnesota. <v Justice Mary Walters>What I think is admirable about it is that it is considered to be <v Justice Mary Walters>a guideline and there are a number of factors that may be taken into <v Justice Mary Walters>consideration for any single crime <v Justice Mary Walters>in the manner in which the individual was sentenced. <v Justice Mary Walters>And the judge may depart from the guidelines if, in
<v Justice Mary Walters>his judgment, there are circumstances which would warrant departure. <v Justice Mary Walters>But it it removes the rigidity with which <v Justice Mary Walters>most states now operate because of legislative <v Justice Mary Walters>enactments. And of course, the courts recognize that it is within the power <v Justice Mary Walters>of the legislature to determine what the sentencing should be. <v Tom Wicker, host>Today, more than a half million people are behind bars in this country, <v Tom Wicker, host>nearly 70 percent more than just 10 years ago. <v Tom Wicker, host>In state after state, multi-billion dollar prison construction programs <v Tom Wicker, host>have been the result. <v Tom Wicker, host>California leads the way with more than 2 billion dollars in construction. <v Tom Wicker, host>That will add 14,000 new beds to its prison system. <v Tom Wicker, host>Another 850 million dollar prison bond issue may go before California <v Tom Wicker, host>voters in June.
<v Ira Reiner>Some people belong in the penitentiary. <v Ira Reiner>Plain and simple, we don't have enough penitentiaries and we got to build enough <v Ira Reiner>penitentiaries. <v Tom Wicker, host>Los Angeles County District Attorney Ira Reiner. <v Ira Reiner>There are people who are violent criminals that we ought to forget about trying to <v Ira Reiner>rehabilitate them. All we ought to do is put them in the penitentiary for so long <v Ira Reiner>that by the time they get out, they're no longer a threat to anybody. <v Ira Reiner>And if that means just warehousing them, then so be it. <v Robert Presley>I guess somebody has to do it. <v Robert Presley>And I think it's something they're certainly needed to be done. <v Robert Presley>Going back a number of years before I got heavily involved in the prison system, <v Robert Presley>legislation I was very involved in anticrime legislation. <v Robert Presley>And I did my bit about increasing sentences and ensuring that the criminals <v Robert Presley>went to jail and stayed there a long time. <v Robert Presley>So it seems to me then the responsible thing to do if you're going to do that then, is to <v Robert Presley>build the prison system to hold them. <v Tom Wicker, host>State Senator Robert Presley is perhaps the key legislative architect of California's
<v Tom Wicker, host>massive prison construction program. <v Robert Presley>We have been in California at least, and a very strong building mode for the last <v Robert Presley>6, 8, 10 years. And as far as we can tell in the future, that looks like <v Robert Presley>that's going to continue. The immediacy of the problem is to get these criminals off the <v Robert Presley>street and get them locked up. And I think that's what the people want. <v Robert Presley>You can hardly argue with that. <v Robert Presley>If that's your crisis, that's that's what you have to deal with. <v Tom Wicker, host>But overcrowding persists in that state and elsewhere. <v Tom Wicker, host>Designed to accommodate 38,000 inmates. <v Tom Wicker, host>California's prisons now warehouse nearly 60,000. <v Tom Wicker, host>Michael Satris is a leading California advocate of prison reform office. <v Michael Satris>It's easy to say we should be hard on criminals and I'm tough on crime. <v Michael Satris>And I'm going to put more people in prison and I'm gonna build more prisons in order to <v Michael Satris>do it as a way to gain public office, because nobody <v Michael Satris>objects to that. <v Unnamed inmate>You know what? They build new prisons and they fill all them up and they still do nothing
<v Unnamed inmate>about the overcrowding, you know, where's it going to end? <v Unnamed inmate>They're going to keep building to keep building til this is one big prison, California. <v Tom Wicker, host>Texas, historically notorious for neglecting its prisons and its prisoners, <v Tom Wicker, host>the number of inmates has increased 112 percent in <v Tom Wicker, host>6 years. But despite 670 billion dollars in construction, <v Tom Wicker, host>the capacity of prisons in Texas has increased only 50 percent. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>Several years ago, Texas had the questionable distinction of being <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>the third largest prison in the world. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>I think only behind the Soviet Union and perhaps South Africa. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>Now we are behind California, which has had <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>the fastest growing prison system because of a law dealing with determinate sentencing. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>Very politically popular, we still have a large prison, but Texas <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>is one of the larger states. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>We have to make some important decisions on money.
<v Tom Wicker, host>But Texas Governor William Clements says he speaks for Texans <v Tom Wicker, host>on corrections issues. <v William Clements>The people of Texas today are strong, strong, <v William Clements>strong in every survey, every poll that I've seen over the past <v William Clements>2 or 3 years, and I'm told by like 70 percent. <v William Clements>Of the people say, we want those criminals in prison where <v William Clements>they belong. And we want them kept there. <v William Clements>And we're not in favor of an early release program. <v William Clements>Now that's the way the people of Texas feel. <v Tom Wicker, host>Texas State Senator Ray Farabee has played a key role in the Lone Star <v Tom Wicker, host>State prison construction program. <v Tom Wicker, host>But Farabee sees limits. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>Well, I think California is now terrified because of <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>the cost of operating these many prisons that they have put into place. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>And I think that's going to happen in Texas and happen in other states that try to solve <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>the problem just by adding more prison beds.
<v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>Now, that's not to say we shouldn't add prison beds. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>We are adding them in Texas and many states are. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>But we have to look to alternatives. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>We have to apply the same economic conservatism that many of the very people who say <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>build more prisons, this is the answer, talk, they <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>talk conservative about other issues, but we need to apply conservatism across the board. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>If that term really means anything anymore and say, hey, is there a more efficient <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>way of handling this offender or that offender. <v Tom Wicker, host>But Governor Clements doesn't buy the Farabee view. <v William Clements>You know, I speak for the governor's office and he speaks for his opinion in the Senate. <v William Clements>You say, well, it's costly. Well, certainly it's costly. <v William Clements>But it also has to do with a reordering of your priorities. <v William Clements>You can't have it both ways. <v Tom Wicker, host>Construction costs are only part of the story. <v Tom Wicker, host>California currently spends 2 billion dollars annually to operate <v Tom Wicker, host>its corrections system. More than 17,000 dollars simply to keep one
<v Tom Wicker, host>inmate behind bars for 1 year. <v Tom Wicker, host>Texas spends nearly half a billion dollars on corrections efforts every year, <v Tom Wicker, host>about 14,000 dollars per inmate. <v Tom Wicker, host>Nevertheless, the courts still hold that state's prisons unconstitutionally <v Tom Wicker, host>inhumane. <v Tom Wicker, host>Even in a poor, sparsely populated state such as New Mexico, prison <v Tom Wicker, host>costs are sky high. Nearly 23,000 dollars per inmate per <v Tom Wicker, host>year, an annual operating total of nearly 85 million dollars. <v Tom Wicker, host>Prison costs, in short, are staggering, especially for so little return <v Tom Wicker, host>in decreasing crime. <v Tom Wicker, host>Even those who support more prison construction wonder how much longer tax <v Tom Wicker, host>and rate payers will stand for it. <v Ira Reiner>The money to build prisons doesn't come from heaven. <v Ira Reiner>It comes from taxes. So the public is concerned with getting criminals off <v Ira Reiner>the street, violent criminals in particular, and putting him in a penitentiary.
<v Ira Reiner>But wanting them off the street in the penitentiary is one thing. <v Ira Reiner>Being prepared to come to grips with the fact that you're going to have to pay for it, <v Ira Reiner>that is you're going to have to construct additional prisons, and that means taxes. <v Ira Reiner>That's a harder sell. <v Robert Presley>Projections are that by something like 1995, instead of having <v Robert Presley>65,000 inmates in custody as we do today, we will have something like 90,000. <v Robert Presley>And it's costing us at the moment about 17, 18,000 dollars per year <v Robert Presley>to keep those people in. So it's becoming almost prohibitively expensive. <v Jan Marenissen>This year, for the first time, the state of California <v Jan Marenissen>has to take money away from the budgets <v Jan Marenissen>of education, human services, <v Jan Marenissen>welfare, and health in order to be able <v Jan Marenissen>to pay for the tremendous correctional budget, which in <v Jan Marenissen>the last 8 years has increased by 22 percent.
<v Tom Wicker, host>Jan Marenissen of the American Friends Criminal Justice Commission, a Quaker <v Tom Wicker, host>organization, is a leading advocate of prison reform. <v Jan Marenissen>So what we see now is a rapid expansion <v Jan Marenissen>of the construction of more prisons and jails. <v Jan Marenissen>And the budgetary effects is that the- they'll rob the <v Jan Marenissen>schoolhouse to pay for the jailhouse. <v George Sullivan>There's an old philosopher who is quoted as saying that you can judge <v George Sullivan>the civility of a society by looking at its prisoners. <v George Sullivan>I think that probably has never been better, said. <v Tom Wicker, host>George Sullivan is one of America's most respected corrections professionals. <v George Sullivan>When the taxpayer is actually aware that the school <v George Sullivan>being provided for our children, the quality of education being provided for our <v George Sullivan>youngsters is diminished or <v George Sullivan>placed into the balance of needing also to fund prisons.
<v George Sullivan>When that realization is clear to all of our taxpayers, that will force <v George Sullivan>the new decision. The new decision being let us not spend money for prisons beyond <v George Sullivan>that which we must spend to protect ourselves. <v George Sullivan>Let's get out of the business of locking people up just because somebody wants <v George Sullivan>them locked up. <v Robert Presley>I suspect that that will happen. <v Robert Presley>I don't hear that much yet. I think people, for the most part, still feel that they <v Robert Presley>want them locked up and they're willing to pay the price. <v Tom Wicker, host>While taxpayers and the legislators who represent them worry about the monumental <v Tom Wicker, host>costs of our prisons, pressures to build more continue. <v Tom Wicker, host>Prisons bring jobs to local communities as the constituents of Texas State <v Tom Wicker, host>Senator Ray Farabaee know. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>We have 30 counties. I've got 14 or 15 counties that are lobbying me <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>for a prison because they want to see it as economic development. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>And that's fine up to a point. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>But we have to keep our mind on the ultimate figures that it's not just building
<v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>a prison, it's not just providing an economic stimulus to an area <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>that might have some problem because of loss of industry or higher unemployment <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>rate. But finally, we have to pay for this. <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>And if we have to take all of our resources and put it into one <v Ray Farabee, Texas state senator>place, then we may be exacerbating the problem. <v Tom Wicker, host>Not to mention increasing the costs of prison operations. <v Tom Wicker, host>The 23,000 dollars New Mexico spends to imprison someone for a year <v Tom Wicker, host>reflect that reality. <v Tom Wicker, host>In 1984, New Mexico opened its new women's prison in <v Tom Wicker, host>the economically depressed community of Grants. <v Tom Wicker, host>Local residents and their state legislators welcomed the boost to the area's economy. <v Tom Wicker, host>The prison brought jobs, but the price of corrections operations scattered about <v Tom Wicker, host>any state, some far from urban facilities, are high. <v Tom Wicker, host>Garrey Carruthers, the governor of New Mexico. <v Garrey Carruthers>But additionally on and above the cost.
<v Garrey Carruthers>We also penalize by distributing these prison systems around the state. <v Garrey Carruthers>We also penalize the prison inmates occasionally. <v Garrey Carruthers>For example, in some communities, there, there is no prospect <v Garrey Carruthers>for job release to go out and do some things. <v Garrey Carruthers>If you build some of these prisons in communities that already have 10, 15, 20, and 30 <v Garrey Carruthers>percent unemployment, the prospects of hiring an inmate in that community as opposed to <v Garrey Carruthers>someone who is already unemployed is pretty bleak. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>We really have lacked a fundamental policy in corrections <v Roger Morris, Journalist>from a period dating long before the riot. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>But even in these fateful 7 years since that catastrophe, we have not come <v Roger Morris, Journalist>to grips with an integrated and coherent policy statewide. <v Tom Wicker, host>Roger Morris, the author of The Devil's Butcher Shop, a compelling account of <v Tom Wicker, host>that state's infamous prison riot. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>We've decided where to place prisons, when to build them, how large to make them, <v Roger Morris, Journalist>who to put in them, very largely in terms of the political advantages to be accrued <v Roger Morris, Journalist>from what region of the state it was placed in in terms of
<v Roger Morris, Journalist>who benefits in the legislature and all the rest. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>That's simply a shameful anachronism that we can no longer afford in corrections <v Roger Morris, Journalist>policy. We've got to make those decisions in terms of enlightened penal policy, not <v Roger Morris, Journalist>not economic development, for which corrections, after all, is hardly a viable <v Roger Morris, Journalist>substitute. <v Tom Wicker, host>As prison costs have risen, the idea of privatization <v Tom Wicker, host>appeals to some politicians. <v Tom Wicker, host>States would lease privately owned and operated prisons. <v Tom Wicker, host>Some say they would save money. <v Garrey Carruthers>Privatization is fairly new to us when when we speak about prisons, but there <v Garrey Carruthers>are successes around, there are no major systems under privatization. <v Garrey Carruthers>But I understand one state now has agreed to, I think, let the private sector build 3 <v Garrey Carruthers>major prison systems. Most of the successes are found in the southeastern part of the <v Garrey Carruthers>country. Very recently appointed by President Reagan to his 13 member commission <v Garrey Carruthers>on privatization. This is one of the issues I want to pursue. <v Garrey Carruthers>I want to seek from around the country those kinds of experiences that
<v Garrey Carruthers>would lend to good public policy in the state. <v Garrey Carruthers>I think that we'll discover that these successes lately have been significant <v Garrey Carruthers>enough to recommended to our state legislature. <v William Clements>I have I have very real reservations about this hype, <v William Clements>if that's a good term for it. <v William Clements>It has to do with privatization of prisons. <v William Clements>It's a vastly overstated proposition, if you will, <v William Clements>in my opinion. <v William Clements>We in Texas are proceeding with the utmost caution and <v William Clements>with great care. <v William Clements>And certainly we're not considering anything other than minimum security <v William Clements>facilities. <v William Clements>I think that when you move up the spectrum and you get into either <v William Clements>moderate facilities or maximum security, that is <v William Clements>fundamentally a state responsibility. <v William Clements>And I do not believe that the private sector has a proper role
<v William Clements>in that in that kind of endeavor. <v Daniel Vasquez>Well, first of all, put that in perspective. Privatization is nothing really new. <v Daniel Vasquez>San Quentin which is the oldest prison in the state of California. <v Daniel Vasquez>And if I'm not mistaken, might be pretty close to the oldest prison in the nation, <v Daniel Vasquez>started out in the premise of privatization. <v Daniel Vasquez>And I don't know what they called it back then in that enlightened period, maybe they <v Daniel Vasquez>called it something else, maybe they did call it privatization, but <v Daniel Vasquez>it didn't work then. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>Privatization is at best a very embryonic art being done on a very small <v Roger Morris, Journalist>scale in this country. So, to, to hold it out as a panacea for the problems that we now <v Roger Morris, Journalist>face. I don't think it's realistic at all. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>It would take a very long time and enormous investment of funds, would make us hostage, <v Roger Morris, Journalist>as all privatization schemes do to a whole new set of managers and bureaucrats <v Roger Morris, Journalist>and a whole new array of costs, I might add that the taxpayers, I think, are going to <v Roger Morris, Journalist>find rather onerous. <v Daniel Vasquez>Incarcerations of citizens of the United States
<v Daniel Vasquez>is a constitutional issue. <v Daniel Vasquez>It doesn't belong in the corporate board decision making realm. <v Daniel Vasquez>It's a constitutional issue. <v Tom Wicker, host>America's prisons are a growing, if costly business. <v Tom Wicker, host>As the bills come due, taxpayers and politicians alike begin to wonder, <v Tom Wicker, host>are these expensive institutions working? <v Tom Wicker, host>Are they accomplishing promised objectives, deterring <v Tom Wicker, host>crime, reducing crime rates, rehabilitating offenders? <v Tom Wicker, host>Or are they simply human warehouses and schools of criminal instruction <v Tom Wicker, host>out of the public sight, so out of the public's mind? <v George Sullivan>Prisons are statistically inconsequential. <v George Sullivan>We serve as no deterrent. I have never talked to an inmate in my 33 <v George Sullivan>years in this business who thought for one moment he would get caught.
<v George Sullivan>If the possibility of getting caught occurred to him, he certainly did not <v George Sullivan>go to the next level of assuming for a moment that he would be prosecuted <v George Sullivan>or would be found guilty or certainly that he would ever wind up in prison. <v George Sullivan>Inmates, criminals know that the likelihood of them going to prison for committing <v George Sullivan>a felony crime at best is about 1 in 100. <v George Sullivan>So if that's true and it is documented, there's truth in every state in our <v George Sullivan>land, our people need to know that. <v George Sullivan>They need to know that prisons have no substantial role <v George Sullivan>to play. <v "Jerry">This should be the last thing you do to an individual sent to prison, because once you <v "Jerry">send him here, he's not afraid of prison anymore. <v "Jerry">And you have nothing- there's nothing you can do to him besides killing to stop him from <v "Jerry">doing whatever he wants to do. If he survives this and he goes back to your society, you <v "Jerry">know, what can you threaten him with? <v "Jerry">I'm going to send you to prison? Psh. That's alright, I've been there, my friends are there. <v Justice Mary Walters>It has been said for at least 50 years that I know.
<v Justice Mary Walters>That prison institutions are merely schools for crime. <v Justice Mary Walters>And I don't think it's changed. And the opportunity is getting better to make <v Justice Mary Walters>criminals studentsout of penitentiary inmates. <v Tom Wicker, host>Plainly, something is not working. <v Tom Wicker, host>Recidivism rates are high. <v Tom Wicker, host>According to federal estimates, 70 percent of those released from prison <v Tom Wicker, host>will be behind bars again within 5 years. <v Ira Reiner>And something has to be done about that. <v Ira Reiner>There is more crime. It is much more violent than the people that are involved in this <v Ira Reiner>violent crime, by and large, are recidivists. <v Ira Reiner>That is, they repeat their crimes over and over. <v Ira Reiner>And the only effective way to deal with these people in the short run, that means <v Ira Reiner>right now, is to put them in jail and keep them there. <v Michael Satris>When they are released from prison, they certainly are no less of a threat to the public <v Michael Satris>than before they went in there.They're more of a threat because they have become <v Michael Satris>embittered. They've become exposed to the violence that you do see
<v Michael Satris>in the prison system. And it becomes a very much of a vicious cycle <v Michael Satris>in terms of trying to break it. <v Orville Pung>Because everybody's coming out of prison. <v Orville Pung>You go to prison for 18 months or 24 months, you're coming out. <v Orville Pung>The national average in prison must run today, somewhere around 22 months. <v Orville Pung>So these people are the people that you're walking down the street with and riding the <v Orville Pung>busses with and interacting every day. <v Orville Pung>So it isn't like you're putting them on a rocket ship and sending them off into space, <v Orville Pung>never to return again. <v "Rocky">You take an individual and you bring them inside the penitentiary here, and it takes <v "Rocky">a while to program an individual to survive inside a penitentiary setting. <v "Rocky">Then you get him here for 7 or 8 years, and then one day they open the door <v "Rocky">and all of a sudden you're free. You know, with a 50 dollar bill and you think, <v "Rocky">what do I do? Where do I go? It's like it's a complete different environment. <v "Rocky">You're stepping into an alien world that you no longer fit in. <v "Rocky">They're not taking the time to reorientate anyone. <v "Rocky">People are going out there for short periods of time and coming right back to the
<v "Rocky">penitentiary. <v Jan Marenissen>When you look at the breakdown of the prison population, <v Jan Marenissen>at least half of the population has never finished <v Jan Marenissen>high school. <v Jan Marenissen>A large percentage is functionally illiterate. <v Jan Marenissen>Many people have never had employment. <v Jan Marenissen>And skills are very, very <v Jan Marenissen>limited among the prisoners, so many of them have <v Jan Marenissen>experienced the life of deprivation, and a large <v Jan Marenissen>percentage of the people behind bars were victims <v Jan Marenissen>of child abuse and neglect. <v Jan Marenissen>It may well be that some of them are acting out, <v Jan Marenissen>maybe unconsciously or consciously, maybe in defiance <v Jan Marenissen>against the the human situation they have experienced
<v Jan Marenissen>all their life. <v Unnamed city official actor>[Start clip of "San Quentin" here:] This looks like a man sized job. <v Unnamed warden actor>Now many of those men are here just because they had bad breaks. <v Unnamed warden actor>They're not born criminals and we don't want to turn them into criminals. <v Unnamed warden actor>Come on. Now that you've seen them, we'll let them have a look at you. [End clip of "San Quentin"] <v Daniel Vasquez>We better be careful that we don't expect too much from corrections. <v Daniel Vasquez>Because when I when I receive a person at San Quentin, he's <v Daniel Vasquez>at the end of the line. Not at the beginning. <v Daniel Vasquez>I don't think it's realistic to think that to send a person to prison to rehabilitate <v Daniel Vasquez>him. I haven't- I've never rehabilitated anybody. <v "Rocky">I grew up in a prison system from juvenile institutions on into adult <v "Rocky">institutions. I watched changes happen in a penitentiary <v "Rocky">when all of a sudden everything was sociology. <v "Rocky">Well, let's go in and we'll try this. It's a controlled environment situation and we'll <v "Rocky">see how it works. And they went through a penitentiary and they painted the walls,
<v "Rocky">all these bright colors, because they said that was supposed to cheer you up and <v "Rocky">everything. And all it did was make everyone ?inaudible? <v "Rocky">Because it was these real sharp angles all down this hallway at quarter mile <v "Rocky">of all of these bright flashes, sharp lines. <v "Rocky">And we had more killings in the penitentiary than we ever had. <v "Rocky">So they said, well, that didn't work. We'll try some- paint the walls. <v "Rocky">Now we'll try sensory deprivation. <v "Rocky">We'll put them in dark boxes with nothing in there and put them naked and leave them <v "Rocky">there for 29 days and then they'll be ready to live with other people. <v "Rocky">And these were the things that were tried that a lot of us have lived through. <v "Rocky">And we think, what are you going to do next to make me fit in your world? <v Orville Pung>Part of our job is to provide a sanction. <v Orville Pung>And we do that. Part of our job is to make opportunities available <v Orville Pung>to them. It isn't our job to rehabilitate anybody- that's not <v Orville Pung>corrections job. It's our job, I think, to make the climate, the atmosphere and the <v Orville Pung>conditions available to someone who wants to habilitate
<v Orville Pung>himself or herself to do something with one's life. <v Orville Pung>That's as far as we can go. <v Orville Pung>I don't think we should be expected to do to heal or to bless or to cleanse <v Orville Pung>or to do anything else. <v Michael Satris>I think that that conditions that lead to crime are the conditions in our <v Michael Satris>society. You know, it's it's it's very much different than than in <v Michael Satris>European societies. For example, there, there's there's much less crime. <v Michael Satris>And one of the problems here is, is the gross inequities <v Michael Satris>in the economic structure. <v Michael Satris>The one constant that that all the criminologists have, have ascertained <v Michael Satris>with crime is that it goes up and down according to the rate of unemployment. <v Ira Reiner>Obviously, poverty has some impact on it. <v Ira Reiner>But to suggest that poverty is the cause of violent crime and this tremendous <v Ira Reiner>increase, I think is frankly nonsense. <v Unnamed inmate>I've been in prison 3 times and I've been on the streets twice. <v Unnamed inmate>It's hard to get a job. It's hard to find employment.
<v Unnamed inmate>They look at your history, oh, you're a criminal. <v Unnamed inmate>You've been in prison for robbery or burglary, whatever it be. <v Unnamed inmate>It's hard to deal with that man because they look at you as a as a subject, not a person. <v Unnamed inmate>And we all still are people here. We have rights. <v Jan Marenissen>When you look at the state prison population in California right now, all <v Jan Marenissen>done, you will see that at least 65 percent <v Jan Marenissen>belongs to the third world. <v Jan Marenissen>36 percent are Black, 27 percent are <v Jan Marenissen>Latino. And 2 to 4 percent Native American <v Jan Marenissen>and Asians. <v Jan Marenissen>We in California, we are practicing some kind <v Jan Marenissen>of an apartheid system which people don't want to look at. <v Jan Marenissen>But that is exactly what we are doing. <v Tom Wicker, host>Not many want to talk about it. <v Tom Wicker, host>But given the disproportionate number of minorities in state prisons, the disturbing
<v Tom Wicker, host>issue of racism cannot be ignored. <v Ira Reiner>People belong in the penitentiary based upon what they have done, that's the only test. <v Ira Reiner>Someone's an armed robber then he belongs in the penitentiary. <v Ira Reiner>And it matters not at all whether that person is Black, brown or white. <v Jan Marenissen>We cannot say that Black people or Latinos or <v Jan Marenissen>Native American people are innately more criminally inclined <v Jan Marenissen>than white people. <v Jan Marenissen>So we have to look at some of the underlying causes, reasons <v Jan Marenissen>why 65 percent of the population is <v Jan Marenissen>nonwhite. And then, of course, then we are thinking in terms of <v Jan Marenissen>the nonwhite population not participating in the so-called dream <v Jan Marenissen>of America. <v Unnamed inmate>You know, I hold the job down, but as soon as they get to read my files, <v Unnamed inmate>I'm out. I'm fired for some reasons.
<v Unnamed inmate>It's hard. It's hard. I got 3 kids, a wife, and you know what? <v Unnamed inmate>Making minimum wage ain't what's happening, and that's all I got. <v Orville Pung>I call prisons the ultimate welfare state. <v Orville Pung>We don't like welfare. But somehow or another, we're willing to take people and feed, <v Orville Pung>clothe, give medical care, free medical services the absolute best. <v Orville Pung>And that's what, that's what you can do when you start incarcerating a lot of people. <v Orville Pung>It's an enormous cost. And I think that some states have found themselves having to start <v Orville Pung>release people early because they can't afford the system. <v Orville Pung>We may have we may be heading for a system that is not- in the country. <v Orville Pung>The corrections system may replace the welfare system. <v Orville Pung>It may be the new welfare system for the underclass in America. <v Orville Pung>It has that potential unless we really think through what we're doing. <v Tom Wicker, host>Taking stock is a painful business, but as the costs and ineffectiveness of corrections
<v Tom Wicker, host>policy aroused debate, the search for a different approach is inevitable. <v Tom Wicker, host>A case in point, Georgia, where the high costs of prison construction <v Tom Wicker, host>and operations have prompted a fundamental change. <v Tom Wicker, host>Georgia searches for alternatives to traditional prison confinement after a <v Tom Wicker, host>disillusioning history. <v Tom Wicker, host>As recently as 5 years ago, Georgia imprisons more of its citizens <v Tom Wicker, host>per capita in any State of the Union. <v Tom Wicker, host>Despite an already overcrowded prison system, despite a federal court order <v Tom Wicker, host>that required improvements. The result of putting so many people behind bars <v Tom Wicker, host>was hardly rehabilitation in the traditional sense.
<v Inaudible Dialog>[inaudible call and response resembling a military chant between a corrections officer and a handful of inmates.] <v Vince Fallin, Dept. Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections>Most of the states in the south have been always very conservative <v Vince Fallin, Dept. Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections>relative to what we do with offenders. <v Vince Fallin, Dept. Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections>We have tended to look at prison as one of the primary answers. <v Vince Fallin, Dept. Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections>And as a result, I think we had to begin to rethink what we were doing to provide <v Vince Fallin, Dept. Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections>the judges with some other options other than just basic probation. <v Inaudible Dialog>[Military drill taking place, many inmates responding to something called out by an off-camera voice.] <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>A special alternative <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>incarceration program is a rather unique approach to prison diversion. <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>Take a young man between the ages of 19 and 25 who's beginning <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>his criminal career, adult criminal career and put him on probation. <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>And as a special condition of probation, you determine that he is required to serve 90
<v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>days. And that's our program. <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>We have 1 of 2 located in the state of Georgia here. <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>It's military oriented, basic training. <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>We combine the best of what the military has to offer in terms of military discipline <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>and also the best of what the prison system has to offer in terms of hard labor. <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>And if he successfully completes the 90 day program, he can return home and serve <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>the remainder of his sentence on probation. <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>If he fails to complete this program satisfactorily, we may recommend <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>revocation to the courts. And thus far, those we've recommended for revocation have been <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>sent into the regular prison system. <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>The results thus far indicate that approximately 75 to 77 <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>percent of the people that come through this program 3 years later have not <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>returned to prison. But it's the first time he's been in prison, fairly short, <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>but it's very intensive. And we give them an opportunity to see the consequences <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>of their behavior so that when they return to society, they can decide whether or not <v Truett Goodwin, Warden at a Correctional Training Center>this is the type of work they want to be doing for the rest of their lives.
<v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>The Griffin Diversion Center is one of the many programs options that <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>a judge in Georgia has during his sentencing phase. <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>A judge sends a person in here to go through a process. <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>First of all, the judge deems that this persons crime was too severe for regular <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>probation, but yet still not severe enough to incarcerate him. <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>He gave them a second chance. <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>He has to work. One of the major prerequisites to enter this program is that you got to <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>be able to work, you see, because the person they're sentencing pays for everything <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>that he gets. He pays room and board at a rate of 4 to 550 a week. <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>He has a fine to pay, he pays off that fine. <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>He has restitution pay, he pays that at restitution. <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>He has to have a certain amount of money in savings before we release him. <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>And if he has a family, have to send home family support, we won't allow him to go on <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>welfare. So you won't be a burden to taxpayers here. <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>You pay taxes just like the average man on the street while in this program. <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>We keep this person productive.
<v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>Whereas in a in a prison, you are just sitting in a cell, you just <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>doing time. Here, you're doing time, but you're doing productive time. <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>You're working on what we say to building. The building is the person's inner self. <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>We are making you do things that's going to make you feel better about yourself. <v James Fletcher, Director of Griffin Diversion Center>To give you a strong, positive outlook that you can make it. <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>Intensive probation is the next most strict form of probation <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>that is offered. <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>We've now added a home confinement component to intensive probation. <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>And these individuals who are placed in home confinement are required to be at home for <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>24 hours a day for the first 3 months they're on intensive, except the time that we allow <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>them to be away from home. The program is designed primarily for moderate risk <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>offenders, if you will, to be assigned to a very strict probation program and <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>thereby allow them to be supervised on the streets rather than <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>going to prison. A very tight curfew is established.
<v William Larkey, Probation Officer>We have weekly employment verification. <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>Weekly record checks to local law enforcement is required to make sure that no arrests <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>have occurred. Drug and alcohol screens are taken on a periodic basis. <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>Community service is a component of intensive probation and they are required to do one <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>132 hours to fully complete intensive probation. <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>I will tell them from day 1 that I know you're not like <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>this probation. I know you're not going to like having to abide by these rules <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>and abide by this, these strict standards. <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>But I let them know I don't require that you like it because that would be, I think, <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>unrealistic. But I remind them of the fact that had it not been <v William Larkey, Probation Officer>for the existence of this program, they'd be in jail. <v Inaudible Dialog>[Another scene of the correctional officer doing a military style call-and-response with a group of inmates] <v Vince Fallin, Dept. Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections>The availability now of options ranging from regular probation <v Vince Fallin, Dept. Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections>to community service as a condition of probation to intensive probation involving
<v Vince Fallin, Dept. Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections>2 officers working with a small caseload, 2 diversion centers <v Vince Fallin, Dept. Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections>to shock incarceration has really given the judges what we refer <v Vince Fallin, Dept. Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections>to as a cafeteria of sentencing options, mid range punishment options <v Vince Fallin, Dept. Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections>that can, in fact punish, control, respond to the victim <v Vince Fallin, Dept. Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections>and also meet the needs and the treatment needs of the offenders that we have in our <v Vince Fallin, Dept. Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections>system. <v Tom Wicker, host>Georgia's promising innovations are driven by the same forces that shape <v Tom Wicker, host>America's larger prison crisis, dangerous overcrowding, <v Tom Wicker, host>federal court intervention, economic necessity. <v Tom Wicker, host>The vast majority of our states are being compelled to seek new ways to <v Tom Wicker, host>respond to crime. <v Tom Wicker, host>Unlike Georgia, some states continue to follow the policies that largely <v Tom Wicker, host>spawned the prison crisis. <v Tom Wicker, host>Take the case of New Mexico. <v Tom Wicker, host>Despite a 1978 federal court order the Duran consent decree
<v Tom Wicker, host>to reduce the overcrowding that ultimately fostered the bloody riot of 1980. <v Tom Wicker, host>The governor of financially strapped New Mexico vows renewed litigation <v Tom Wicker, host>to fight that court order. <v Garrey Carruthers>That court order came to us after one of the worst prison riots ever in the United <v Garrey Carruthers>States. Now, had we just had a law case and <v Garrey Carruthers>some discussion in the courts and litigation and decided to settle the case out of court, <v Garrey Carruthers>which is a consent decree and nothing else to happen I would believe <v Garrey Carruthers>that we would not have agreed to the conditions that we agreed to at Duran. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>That's not accurate historically. The consent decree was under negotiation for several <v Roger Morris, Journalist>months before the riot ever took place. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>There, in fact, were talks between the state and the convict plaintiffs <v Roger Morris, Journalist>represented by the ACLU and by a federal arbitrator at that point in the late months of <v Roger Morris, Journalist>1979, discussing the specific standards and measures <v Roger Morris, Journalist>that would be embodied in the decree. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>The decree really represents no more than the best and most enlightened penal thinking in
<v Roger Morris, Journalist>the country. <v Garrey Carruthers>But the 1980 prison right up the ante and it upped the ante against society <v Garrey Carruthers>on behalf of the inmates. I think we had collectively a great sense <v Garrey Carruthers>of guilt for what happened 1980 because the Duran filing was about <v Garrey Carruthers>overcrowding and conditions in the prison. That's what Duran was complaining about. <v Garrey Carruthers>And I think we perhaps collectively decided that we felt guilty, <v Garrey Carruthers>perhaps we ought to give a little more than we should. <v Garrey Carruthers>What we did is define some conditions that do not permit us then as a public to manage <v Garrey Carruthers>the prison. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>It is not some kind of special concoction that grew up after the riot. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>It's not the product of bureaucratic guilt. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>It is, in fact a distillation of the best and most progressive standards in corrections <v Roger Morris, Journalist>practices around the country. <v Tom Wicker, host>Clearly, millions, perhaps billions of dollars have been spent on litigation <v Tom Wicker, host>involving our states' prison conditions, something rarely included in calculations <v Tom Wicker, host>of the costs of corrections. <v Garrey Carruthers>The cost of funding litigation is a concern to New Mexico has been difficult to <v Garrey Carruthers>continue the fight simply because it's not easy to over overturn something you already
<v Garrey Carruthers>agreed to. And consequently, we find ourselves in somewhat of a pickle. <v Garrey Carruthers>One of the things that saves us perhaps is that we change administrations. <v Garrey Carruthers>So in changing administrations at least, you can make an argument that we want something <v Garrey Carruthers>different and something new. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>Their only major act has been to pour more money into lawyers to fight the Duran decree, <v Roger Morris, Journalist>which is an old and I think forlorn effort. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>They've even gone to the trouble now to hire a new Washington law firm to try to wage an <v Roger Morris, Journalist>all out constitutional battle against the decree, which I think is doomed to failure. <v Roger Morris, Journalist>We've spent almost 2 million dollars on attorneys in the last 3 or 4 years <v Roger Morris, Journalist>fighting the Duran Decree. We could have spent that money so much more usefully in <v Roger Morris, Journalist>programs in in even in developing new policies in the corrections department <v Roger Morris, Journalist>rather than trying to fight progress. <v Tom Wicker, host>The good news is that there are a few states, unfortunately, too few, <v Tom Wicker, host>which seem to be the exceptions to the rule. <v Tom Wicker, host>Minnesota, like other states, it must grapple with crime and corrections. <v Tom Wicker, host>But Minnesota has avoided many of the causes of crises in other states.
<v Allan Spear, Minnesota State Senator>I don't want any more prisons. <v Allan Spear, Minnesota State Senator>I don't believe that the people who are running our correctional system in this state <v Allan Spear, Minnesota State Senator>want more prisons. One thing I've learned, if you build them, you fill them. <v Allan Spear, Minnesota State Senator>And you're just spending a disproportionate amount <v Allan Spear, Minnesota State Senator>of your state budget for something that really isn't doing the citizens much good. <v Allan Spear, Minnesota State Senator>And so we've pursued a somewhat different course on this in Minnesota, and I think it's <v Allan Spear, Minnesota State Senator>been a much better one. <v Orville Pung>We are willing and have been for a long time to spend some money <v Orville Pung>on on each other, and we have a long history of that. <v Tom Wicker, host>Minnesota Corrections Commissioner Orville Pung sees the connection between <v Tom Wicker, host>a state's social services and its corrections programs. <v Orville Pung>I think where you find a good corrections system and let's assume we have a good one in <v Orville Pung>Minnesota, you can go to other areas and find outstanding systems. <v Orville Pung>I think we have the best health care system in the country. <v Orville Pung>We spend more money on education, I think, than any other state. <v Orville Pung>We spend more money on, on generally Human Human Services in Minnesota.
<v Orville Pung>So it would be inconsistent to have a poor corrections system with all these other <v Orville Pung>systems being recognized I think in many ways as one of the best in the country. <v Tom Wicker, host>More than anything else, how we handle our juvenile offenders may determine <v Tom Wicker, host>the ultimate character of our adult corrections systems. <v Tom Wicker, host>At Redwing, a young offenders last chance in the Minnesota juvenile system, <v Tom Wicker, host>the emphasis is on education and skills as well as corrections. <v Tom Wicker, host>Juvenile offenders in Minnesota go to institutions like Redwing only <v Tom Wicker, host>as a last resort. First come community programs like <v Tom Wicker, host>?Catatan? in Minneapolis. <v Jay Lindgren>?Catatan? House is one of a large variety of programs that exist in Minnesota <v Jay Lindgren>that are there to provide the kind of structure and control <v Jay Lindgren>and toughness. It works very effectively with kids who, but for the program might be
<v Jay Lindgren>in a residential program, might even be in a state institution. <v Tom Wicker, host>Minnesota's juvenile release director, Jay Lindgren. <v Jay Lindgren>Clearly, at least in my experience, that the ultimate, the ultimate turnaround <v Jay Lindgren>comes when a kid finds out or an adult finds out that there is more <v Jay Lindgren>in it for me to do things right than there is to do the wrong and buy in it for me. <v Jay Lindgren>I mean, essential things like how do I support myself, <v Jay Lindgren>that I can by, by holding a job I can meet and find <v Jay Lindgren>some kind of meaningful work that gives me the kind of income so that I can feel that I <v Jay Lindgren>have some dignity. It works very hard to to bring about <v Jay Lindgren>an education program that's attractive to kids, that's based on basics, reading <v Jay Lindgren>and arithmetic being the 2 keys. <v Jay Lindgren>And they also use relationships, the kinds of problems that occur in day to day <v Jay Lindgren>interaction among kids and with kids and adults to be a learning experience, to learn the <v Jay Lindgren>social skills necessary to to survive and to succeed and in the <v Jay Lindgren>larger society.
<v Orville Pung>I think what you want to do with juveniles is damage them the least you possibly can. <v Orville Pung>Get them through a experience that they don't leave more bitter, more hostile and more <v Orville Pung>damaged than when they came in. <v Orville Pung>And I think you want to at least leave them with a good self concept and a feeling that <v Orville Pung>they can be successful. It's quite an investment with juveniles, because if you can- <v Orville Pung>there's a lot of money in this business. And if you can just defer 1 kid a year, you can <v Orville Pung>almost save your budget over a lifetime of corrections and crime. <v "Rocky">There's a program where convicts go talk to kids in the community, at schools <v "Rocky">and stuff to try to tell them to use their head. <v "Rocky">Because that's your future convict right there. <v "Rocky">That's what money is needed to build new penitentiaries, not to keep <v "Rocky">us, but for your children. <v On-Screen text>[On screen quote: "This too I know - and wise it were / If each could know the same - / That every prison that men build / is built with bricks of shame." - Oscar Wilde"].
<v Tom Wicker, host>Probably no American institution is a greater and more costly failure than our prisons. <v Tom Wicker, host>I wrote those words 13 years ago in A Time to Die, a book about <v Tom Wicker, host>my experiences during the Attica prison uprising. <v Tom Wicker, host>We call our prisons a correction system. <v Tom Wicker, host>But neither those who run them nor those who appropriate the money actually <v Tom Wicker, host>believe that prisons achieve much correction. <v Tom Wicker, host>By that, we mean the rehabilitation of offenders. <v Tom Wicker, host>And as we spend billions to build more prisons in order to incarcerate more <v Tom Wicker, host>offenders, can anyone believe that these warehouses of humanity <v Tom Wicker, host>significantly deter crime? <v Tom Wicker, host>Continuing high crime rates speak for themselves. <v Tom Wicker, host>But we cannot blame prison officials and legislators alone for <v Tom Wicker, host>what we've done to ourselves. <v Tom Wicker, host>As the fear of crime has grown into a panicky political issue in this country, <v Tom Wicker, host>the bureaucrats and the politicians have done just about what we citizens
<v Tom Wicker, host>have demanded. We have taken counsel of our fears <v Tom Wicker, host>and embarked upon a dead end journey. <v Tom Wicker, host>It's ironic, a sad commentary, that we are beginning to recognize the failure <v Tom Wicker, host>of our prisons because they cost too much. <v Tom Wicker, host>But as prison costs rising out of control threaten other basic programs, <v Tom Wicker, host>including education, perhaps the most effective deterrent to crime, <v Tom Wicker, host>we are being compelled. Like it or not, to consider less expensive, <v Tom Wicker, host>possibly more effective ways to deal with crime and punishment in that <v Tom Wicker, host>there may be hope for more of us than criminals and their victims.
America's Prison Crisis: Monuments to Failure
Producing Organization
KNME-TV (Television station : Albuquerque, N.M.)
Contributing Organization
New Mexico PBS (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Program Description
"The Peabody Awards have historically sought to recognize productions which assay fundamental problems of our nation and localities which call out for public understanding. This documentary stands in that tradition. "America's state prisons are in the grips of a crisis so deep as to border on disaster. Over-crowded and underfunded, they have become 'warehouses' of humanity, 'out of sight and out of mind,' in the words of San Quentin's warden. The tensions thus created carry a high price. Tensions erupt into disturbances and full-scale riots with alarming regularity. In 1980, such a 'Monument to Failure' occurred in New Mexico when inmates took control of the state's maximum security facility. The carnage left 36 inmates dead, the prison a virtual ruin. "Shot in California, Texas, Minnesota, Georgia, and New Mexico, this documentary documents the crisis and hears the voices of state officials, jurists, prison reformers, and inmates. They are the voices of discord and conflicting interests. Yet a remarkable consensus emerges. In the words of one California prison reformer, 'we are robbing the schoolhouse to pay for the jailhouse.' "Nor are out state prisons 'corrections facilities' as they are sometimes called, if by 'corrections' we mean rehabilitation. Recidivism rates remain high. Little wonder, according to a New Mexico Supreme Court Justice: 'our prisons are nothing more than schools for crime.' Inmate testimony of life behind bars reinforces that interpretation. "A few states like Minnesota have avoided this conundrum through educational and social programs designed to deter crime and keep its residents out of jail in the first place. The result is one of the lowest crime and recidivism rates in the nation. "It is a disquieting story, but it is not bereft of hope."--1988 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Producing Organization: KNME-TV (Television station : Albuquerque, N.M.)
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Identifier: cpb-aacip-4df9f28b9c2 (Filename)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Original
Duration: 00:30:00
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-689bb163fc5 (Filename)
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Duration: 00:57:40
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Chicago: “America's Prison Crisis: Monuments to Failure,” 1988, New Mexico PBS, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 28, 2022,
MLA: “America's Prison Crisis: Monuments to Failure.” 1988. New Mexico PBS, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 28, 2022. <>.
APA: America's Prison Crisis: Monuments to Failure. Boston, MA: New Mexico PBS, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from