Lockup - Return to Valley State   View more episodes

Aired at 03:01 AM on Sunday, Aug 02, 2009 (8/2/2009)      View all transcripts from this day

Transcript

00:00:01Segments of america's prison population.
00:00:03Since 1995, the total number of male prisoners in america has grown 29%.
00:00:07The number of female prisoners, nearly 50%.
00:00:11So what does it mean to society and to our justice system?
00:00:16We first visited valley state women's prison in california back in 2000, one of the largest all-female prisons in the world.
00:00:22We returned five years later to see if reforms made any difference to a system troubled by overcrowding and the inmates caught in a seemingly hopeless circle of abuse, drug addiction and violence.
00:00:35>> Everybody tries to make a family here.
00:00:42This is their family while they're here.
00:00:46But then there is another aspect of the population that can be very violent, very cut-throat.
00:00:52And they're making a game out of it.
00:00:55And the more violent it is, the more fun it is for them.
00:00:58>> Get your camera off of me.
00:01:01>> They're not people.
00:01:03>> I don't feel I'm a good person because of the things I've done.
00:01:10I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm very scared.
00:01:12>> 250 Miles north of los angeles in chowchilla, california, is valley state prison for women.
00:01:18It was built in 1995 and sits on more than 640 acres.
00:01:24While valley state's dormitory layout and spacious green yards might remind some of a college campus, razor wires, guard towers and the electrified fence leave no doubt this is prison.
00:01:37And the 3,600 women who live here are criminals.
00:01:39>> When I first came to prison, I was 19 years old.
00:01:47And I'm here for second-degree murder.
00:01:51And I have 15 to life.
00:01:53>> Sharon phoenix is now 41 years old.
00:02:02>> Everything was, like, violent.
00:02:08You had to be very care informal the way you walked and the way you talked and your attitude.
00:02:13I was dealing with women who didn't care.
00:02:15I seen one woman get beaten.
00:02:17I've seen women o.d.
00:02:18>> More than 80% of the women at valley state are in for drug-related offenses.
00:02:24>> I used to use heroin, started at 16, using it.
00:02:27>> I'm addicted to crack cocaine.
00:02:28>> Heroin.
00:02:29>> I've been using since I was 12 years old.
00:02:32>> Substance abuse is an underlying factor of most of the crimes committed by the women here because in order to support their drug habits, you end up committing burglaries, petty thefts, various crimed that will result in a felony conviction.
00:02:51And as a result they end up in prison.
00:02:52>> What you mean you need some more food?
00:02:54Starving like what?
00:02:55>> Like I'm eight months pregnant.
00:02:57>> You're what?
00:02:58>> Eight months pregnant.
00:03:01>> Let me see.
00:03:02Oh, you are, aren't you?
00:03:04>> Gloria henry is the warden at valley state.
00:03:08She's run this prison since 2002 and has been working with women in corrections for more than 20 years.
00:03:12>> I have always felt like i have a responsibility to try and return them to the community better than they were when they came in.
00:03:20Because you have a lot of these women who come in here, from the time they were little girls, they had nobody to teach them how to be a good citizen, how to be a productive adult.
00:03:32They have no life skills.
00:03:33They didn't learn them.
00:03:34What they did growing up was survived.
00:03:36So when they come in here, there's a lot of things that we need to be able to teach them how to do in order to go back into our communities.
00:03:48>> This is the reception area at valley state where the new inmates are processed.
00:03:53>> Do you have any old cdc numbers?
00:03:54>> No.
00:03:55>> Okay.
00:03:59>> I've just never been.
00:04:00I'm scared.
00:04:00It's scary.
00:04:04I'm ashamed of what I did, too.
00:04:06>> Right now I'm numb.
00:04:10I just got here.
00:04:11I don't really feel anything yet.
00:04:18I don't know how it's going to be.
00:04:20I don't know what I'm going to face because I've never been here.
00:04:22>> Some of them I see come in, they're disgusted because they're back here again and we see them, you know, every three or four months or time and time again.
00:04:28>> This is my fifth time.
00:04:29>> Your fifth time?
00:04:30>> Yes.
00:04:31My first commitment was petty theft with a prior.
00:04:32This is my fourth violation.
00:04:33>> I never said I wasn't going to come back because I'm a criminal.
00:04:36That's what I do.
00:04:37>> After the initial photographs, fingerprints and paperwork, the prison's medical staff examines each new inmate to assess her needs.
00:04:44>> That's the only thing you're under treatment for right now.
00:04:49>> The new inmates must spend their first several weeks in an area separate from the general population before being integrated into a permanent housing unit.
00:04:58While segregated, the new inmates are psychologically tested to zerm in which housing area they will be placed for the remaining sentence.
00:05:07>> Some of the women inmates we see here who are psychotic, have lost touch with reality, may have very bizarre and unusual behaviors, hear voices and those types of things.
00:05:16And we would need to treat them usually with medication and some supportive therapy.
00:05:22We also see people who have major depressive disorders, very sad, maybe suicidal.
00:05:28And these women may need medication therapy and also psychotherapy as well.
00:05:34>> Once the correctional staff screens each inmate for medical and psychological needs as well as security risks, she's assigned to her housing unit.
00:05:44The women live eight to a room.
00:05:47>> When you live with seven other different personalities and somebody's day has gone wrong, they're bound and determined to turn it around on you.
00:05:59>> You better be quiet.
00:05:59You're going to get it.
00:06:01>> Finishing her off.
00:06:02Just one bad day in close quarters.
00:06:07>> Inmates not only have to get used to their new environment, but also the prison routine.
00:06:13A typical day at valley state 30 breakfast is cooked and served by the inmates under staff supervision.
00:06:24The majority of inmates spend their day in a variety of valley state's educational, vocational or rehabilitation programs where they can earn a high school diploma, learn a trade or cope with anger, addiction and abuse.
00:06:36>> When I first came to prison, I started fighting at anything.
00:06:40Anything you said to me would make me, you know, react.
00:06:45If I felt threatened.
00:06:47Most of the time I'd end up in cuffs.
00:06:49I had several police tell me you're going to be here until the prison falls down.
00:06:54And through going to groups and therapy, I finally learned that that wasn't the way to do it.
00:06:58I need to learn how to use talking skills instead of my hands.
00:07:03And with more help and more good functions, I have the chance to go home.
00:07:09>> Life here is about order and routine.
00:07:14By 10:00 p.m. it's lights out.
00:07:15But there are some places at valley state that never go to sleep.
00:07:18>>> Coming up -- [ screaming ] >> this is how it is 24/7.
00:07:24You have to be prepared for anything.
00:07:27>> Doing time at valley state's prison within a prison.
00:07:32>>> And later -- >> when I was a little girl, i could never imagine myself being here now, today, or even coming to a place like this.
00:07:39>> We checked back with someone who was just out of her teens when we first met her five years earlier and could spend her life behind bars.
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00:11:01>> You know I have a problem with you, right?
00:11:06>> Because I didn't like the way you allowed them to punk you.
00:11:10>> An act of violence or drug use inside the prison will bring an inmate here to the administrative segregation unit or ad seg.
00:11:13It is valley state's prison within a prison.
00:11:23Whiled a ad adseg houses go on temporary lockdown, the other side of the building known as the security housing unit or shu is for serious offenders who are considered a more permanent problem.
00:11:38>> I was set up.
00:11:38I was set up.
00:11:39That's what I was.
00:11:40Inmates were afraid of me and they put a shank under my mattress.
00:11:43>> They think I'm a threat to the institution.
00:11:45>> Inmates in the shu are kept in their cells almost 23 hours a day.
00:11:50They are allowed out for only three showers a week and ten hours in the recreation yard.
00:11:53Life in ad seg or shu isn't just a more intense experience for the inmate.
00:11:56Correctional officers like diane vasquez are under the pressure of dealing with a different brand of criminal.
00:12:01>> Working here in ad seg shu is very challenging.
00:12:06You deal with a lot of physical abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse.
00:12:13It just depends on how much you let it affect you.
00:12:18You hear yelling.
00:12:20You hear cursing.
00:12:23You hear banging, kicking on the doors.
00:12:29This is how it is 24/7.
00:12:30At nighttime they don't sleep.
00:12:31Anytime you're dealing with any of the inmates in here, you have to be ready to react to anything.
00:12:39You always just got to be prepared, know your options when you're dealing with different situations.
00:12:45You always have to think two steps ahead to prepare for whatever can happen.
00:12:51>> An arsenal of nonlethal weapons like tear gas and rubber bullets provide stopping power in case of an incident.
00:12:58To provide added security for the officers, meals are delivered through slots in cell doors.
00:13:04Random cell searches are an effective way for officers to find weapons and other contraband before they can be used against staff and're inmates, and other inmates.
00:13:20>> I'm checking some of the containers because we can't see through this.
00:13:23If there's anything in here besides what's supposed to be in here, we'll be able to see this.
00:13:27That's an unknown liquid in this.
00:13:30This is a shampoo bottle.
00:13:32There should be shampoo in there.
00:13:34There's not shampoo in there.
00:13:35We use mirrors where we need to see, we don't want to get stabbed or poked.
00:13:41>> Although the officers search for all sorts of contraband, they are first and foremost on the lookout for weapons.
00:13:45>> It could be as simple as this right here.
00:13:48This is cellophane wrapped around a pen filler.
00:13:51It's pretty stiff.
00:13:52It could be used as a stabbing weapon.
00:13:55It's better that we take it.
00:13:57>> When it comes to crafting homemade weapons, an inmate's determination can be deadly.
00:14:05>> Right here is what we call a fashion block, what it is it's a cut-off pillow case, it's made into a handle.
00:14:14The inmate braids it to where they can hold it real tight.
00:14:18What they do is attack another inmate.
00:14:20Another common weapon for inmates to use would be a toothbrush.
00:14:27Melt the plastic down and they put a razor in there which acts as a slashing device.
00:14:35Screws have been melted inside of a lighter.
00:14:40And you hold it.
00:14:41>> Keeps the inmate safe.
00:14:42Keeps the officers safe.
00:14:44If we can stop it here, everybody's going to get to go home safe.
00:14:57>> Not all prisoners are in ad seg for disciplinary reasons.
00:15:02Cynthia menendez and linda donohue are here to protect them from their enemies.
00:15:06>> We're here because our life has been put on the line.
00:15:10You know, and we have families we want to get home to, too.
00:15:17I was put back here because my life was threatened because my son testified and took somebody away from their family.
00:15:23And they were going to take me away from mine.
00:15:25I've been back here a little over a month.
00:15:26It's just getting harder and harder.
00:15:28I felt like my whole world was crumbling.
00:15:31When I walked back here, I could just see horror.
00:15:33>> When you're taken out of your cell you're handcuffed.
00:15:36It's very depressing.
00:15:37It's very humiliating.
00:15:39>> Linda donohue was assaulted at a nearby prison and was shipped to valley state for her protection.
00:15:45Now her attacker will be arriving at the prison.
00:15:49So linda is moved to ad seg for her own security.
00:15:54>> Blood all over the room.
00:15:56I finally was able to get up, she had me pinned, I was able to get up and bang on the door for the officers.
00:16:03I'm scared of dying.
00:16:04I've seen people beat worse than what I got beat.
00:16:08>> For both women, the isolation of ad seg has provided a chance to reflect on their time behind bars.
00:16:13>> It was a reality check for me.
00:16:16It was really a reality check.
00:16:17And maybe this is what it took for me to have to realize it.
00:16:20This is not where I want to be.
00:16:21>> You're told not to be weak in prison.
00:16:23Don't be weak in prison.
00:16:25That's a downfall.
00:16:28I don't know how to be strong.
00:16:33I just had that one habit and i just couldn't break away from it, you know?
00:16:38It was like taking away the loneliness.
00:16:41>> Violence and drugs still take their toll inside valley state.
00:16:44Darlene acevedo is serving time for petty theft.
00:16:47But as a drug user, she was sent to the ad seg for feeding her addiction on the inside.
00:16:52Which led to an attack on another inmate.
00:16:55She's been in ad seg for 21 months.
00:17:00>> This is the first time I've ben sober in my whole life since I started using drugs since i was 18.
00:17:12So that's what I meant by reality check.
00:17:14This has made me the me, the real person, that I really am.
00:17:16>> Darlene's facilities are basic, with a few luxuries like lotions, spices and a television, she spends her time reading with only pictures of her family to keep her company.
00:17:25>> They give me hope.
00:17:26When I look at my pictures, i know that I have a purpose.
00:17:32>> Today darlene will go before a committee to determine if she is fit to leave ad seg.
00:17:36>> She was originally placed in asu on 12/12/04 for battery on an inmate.
00:17:42Regarding the assessment of the shu term, icc found no factors in aggravation.
00:17:49It's further recommended that release her to facility d.
00:17:51>> The meeting brings good news to darlene.
00:17:54She will return to the general population.
00:17:56>> Everything is going to be fine.
00:17:58I'm going to make it.
00:18:00>>> When we return -- >> this place makes you hard.
00:18:04>> Five years later, we catch up with three killers who could spend their lives at valley state.
00:18:08We should start here.
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00:21:11>>> When I was a little girl, no, I could never imagine myself being here today or coming to a place like this.
00:21:16When I was 16 in juvenile hall, fighting my case, I still didn't think about coming to prison.
00:21:21To be so young convicted of second-degree murder, facing 15 to life in prison, it was the scariest thing I've ever had to go through.
00:21:31I didn't know what I was going to.
00:21:33I didn't know what it was going to be like.
00:21:36I heard many stories of prison.
00:21:37I was scared, I was terrified.
00:21:39>> When we first met janice jaycott, she had just turned 21, she was sent to valley state to serve 15 to life for second-degree murder.
00:21:46>> I set up a drug deal.
00:21:47The drug deal turned into a robbery.
00:21:49The robbery turned into a murder.
00:21:52The girl turned state evidence and the guy was on the run and he ended up dying about a year and a half later.
00:22:00This place makes you hard.
00:22:02It can make you bitter.
00:22:03I don't think it rehabilitates you.
00:22:0690% Of the women go out harder than what they come in.
00:22:10>> Janice was pregnant when she was arrested.
00:22:13Her son was born six months prior to her being sent to valley state.
00:22:18>> I don't know what it's like to be a mother to him.
00:22:20To me I'm just the woman who gave birth to him.
00:22:23I'm not his mom.
00:22:25My stepmom and my father have raised him.
00:22:29>> Janice is now 26, older, wiser, and looking toward the future.
00:22:35>> Four years ago I was a wreck.
00:22:38I was real rebellious, I didn't care about nobody.
00:22:41I don't even think I gave a damn about myself.
00:22:45To where now, four years later, I'm more mature, I care what happens to me.
00:22:51>> Janice also cares about the child she left behind.
00:22:55She hopes to be paroled within five years and, at last, be a mother to her son before it's too late.
00:23:03>> I think as he gets older and he comes to understand and realize where I'm at and I'm not at home taking care of him, i think he's going to be real rebellious about it and he's not going to want to listen to nobody.
00:23:13I'm terrified he's going to make the same mistakes that I did.
00:23:20>> At valley state prison there are 385 women serving life sentences.
00:23:27>> Actually, four years ago, i couldn't see f leaving here.
00:23:32Now as my board date approaches, I see that there might possibly be a light at the end of the tunnel.
00:23:37Only in the last year have i felt like maybe this isn't what god has planned for me, to stay here for the rest of my life.
00:23:43>> Marta yulin is also a lifer at valley state.
00:23:47She was convicted in 1998 for vehicular manslaughter.
00:23:50She drove drunk and killed four people.
00:23:52>> I wanted to die, myself.
00:23:53It didn't only affect the four people in that car, but myself and my two children don't have their mother right now.
00:24:05The effects ripple on down and effect so many people that it's unbelievable.
00:24:12The pain will never go away.
00:24:13>> Marta is serving 15 to life.
00:24:16When we spoke to her in 2000 she was convinced that prison was the end of the line.
00:24:20But she may be eligible for parole as early as 2010.
00:24:23And longs to reunite with a family she left behind.
00:24:28>> I have a very supportive daughter who is 20 who is putting herself through school, and I have a 23-year-old son in iraq right now who should be coming home soon.
00:24:40He's having the hardest time dealing with me being here.
00:24:45And we basically had no communication since I've been in prison.
00:24:49But I'm faithful that god's going to turn that around.
00:24:52I know that god's always there.
00:24:54He wraps his arms around me and comforts me and tells me he's going to see me through this and that he's forgiven me, because i can't forgive myself sometimes.
00:25:09>> I've become a very angry person rather than, say, somebody who is looking at things and finding things better.
00:25:21There's nothing rehabilitating here.
00:25:26It's a drudgery really.
00:25:28>> When we last saw barbara erdman, she was 65 years old and one year into her ten-year sentence for murder.
00:25:36>> My husband had left me after 30 years, and I was having a very tough time with it.
00:25:44And all of a sudden I decided i was going to be me again.
00:25:47And I went over to his house.
00:25:50He had moved out, and I went over to his house where he lived, and I wanted to tell him to keep whatever pension and stuff he had and to sign the house over to me.
00:26:02And he got very irate and starting beating me up.
00:26:10But when I backed up, his gun was on the counter -- he carried it once in a while -- and i picked it up and tried to scare him.
00:26:19He backed off, but then he came at me.
00:26:22And I pulled the trigger, i guess.
00:26:26I really don't remember it clearly.
00:26:31It went off and he died.
00:26:36>> Barbara had more difficulty adjusting to her time in prison than the others.
00:26:43Even though she should be paroled in 2007, barbara will soon be 71.
00:26:46>> No.
00:26:47This is not life, I tell you that.
00:26:49You're definitely being punished.
00:26:52That's for sure.
00:26:55It's a nightmare.
00:26:57I still have not gotten over the shock of being here.
00:27:01And everything is so different.
00:27:04People are so different.
00:27:09They're not people.
00:27:10And I think I was still in shock at that time.
00:27:13I didn't really realize what was going on, and what it would be like to be in here.
00:27:20And it's horrible.
00:27:22It really is.
00:27:26I don't laugh as freely.
00:27:30I don't live really, is basically what it is.
00:27:36I try very hard to keep my spirits up, but there's sometimes that you just can't.
00:27:45If it wasn't -- if it wasn't for my family, my granddaughter who I've got pictures of, I wouldn't make it.
00:27:55I don't know what would happen.
00:27:59>> As these women get closer to freedom, they remain mindful of the fine line between getting out and actually moving on.
00:28:06>> When I get out of prison, I'll be the kind of person that carries a good job, be the best mother that I can be.
00:28:15That's my number one priority, to be a mother to my child.
00:28:19I cannot bring those children back, I cannot bring the gentleman and his girlfriend back, and I can't wipe the tears of the family members or my own family members.
00:28:33But I can keep trying to move forward and do the best that i can do for others.
00:28:39I'll try to replace it that way.
00:28:41That's the only way I know how.
00:28:43>> That's what I need to do, is just focus on the fact that in two years I will be out, and maybe there's something I can do on the outside.
00:28:53I want to see the outside.
00:28:55I want to see some beauty.
00:28:58Try to forget about this place.
00:29:03>>> Coming up -- babies behind bars.
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00:32:19>>> I'm christina brown.
00:32:21Here's what's happening.
00:32:22A new york judge ordered a psychiatric evaluation for the man accused of carrying a fake BOMB into LaGuardia airport on sunday.
00:32:30scott McCan is said to be hemoless and held without bail.
00:32:36Federal agents seized all skin products from utah.
00:32:42The fda is warning the public not to use the clarcon products because they contain harmful bacteria.
00:32:52" >>> medical care for all prison inmates is notoriously inadequate.
00:33:00At valley state prison for women, health care is indeed one of the facilities' biggest challenges.
00:33:04For prisoners, it's also been a hot-button issue for years.
00:33:11Each day just after breakfast the inmates on medication line up for their daily doses.
00:33:18All drugs are regulated.
00:33:22Psychotropic, prenatal, even cold medicine.
00:33:25The inmates have long considered health care to be one of valley state's biggest problems.
00:33:31Despite being fully operational on our first visit in 2000, the facilities were understaffed and overburdened.
00:33:35There were less than ten physicians to care for more than 3,500 inmates.
00:33:46>> The medical care here sucks.
00:33:47>> Medical sucks.
00:33:48>> Medical sucks.
00:33:50>> We need better medical.
00:33:54>> I've been here eight years and never had a physical.
00:33:57They won't give me a physical.
00:33:58They said because I'm young and I'm healthy, I don't need a physical.
00:34:00>> Because of standards that are set by the community, there has been a significant increase in funding for the health care services for women and we have been able to add to our staff both in terms of physicians, nursing, mental health staff.
00:34:14Is it perfect?
00:34:15No.
00:34:16Do we have enough staff?
00:34:17No.
00:34:19Do we have vacancy issues and problems we're working with?
00:34:22Yes.
00:34:24But we are significantly better off in terms of our ability to deliver quality standard of care today than we were a year ago or five years ago.
00:34:36>> Most of the difficulties stem from the inherent differences between male and female populations.
00:34:42Above all, pregnancy.
00:34:44>> Pregnancies in a prison provide a very unique problem for us because many of the women that are pregnant are in very poor health.
00:34:52They're ill when they are pregnant.
00:34:54They come here and they're depressed.
00:34:56They have a number of issues going on in their lives.
00:35:00>> Approximately 175 babies are born each year to inmates at valley state, building b-1 houses the expecting mothers.
00:35:06>> I'm having twins.
00:35:07I don't know.
00:35:08I think I'm having a boy and a girl.
00:35:10I hope, that's what I want.
00:35:12I have a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old at home.
00:35:14So -- >> when an inmate is ready to deliver at valley state, she's brought to nearby madera community hospital.
00:35:25Correctional officers are posted outside the delivery room.
00:35:30That's not the only thing that separates these moms from the others in the hospital.
00:35:33>> When the babies are delivered, the mothers don't get to bring them home.
00:35:36>> A family member must pick up the newborn within 48 hours.
00:35:38Otherwise the baby is placed in foster care.
00:35:41>> This is my son, manuel.
00:35:42He was the first born.
00:35:43He weighed one pound and nine ounces.
00:35:46>> When inmate amelia gutierrez was sent to valley state on a parole charge, she was seven months pregnant with triplets.
00:35:56>> I had a really rough experience being here.
00:36:00High-risk pregnancy.
00:36:02This is no place to be.
00:36:05>> Amelia's delivery was dangerously premature.
00:36:07She had to be airlifted to a hospital capable of providing adequate care to her new family.
00:36:12Soon after delivering the triplets, amelia was given traumatizing news.
00:36:17>> I'm very grateful, because two of my children are still living.
00:36:27And my son, unfortunately, passed away.
00:36:33Which was really hard.
00:36:34Because, you know, I couldn't be there for him like I should have been.
00:36:40The hardest thing was to lose my son, and, you know, just being away from my children, period.
00:36:48It's, like, really tearing me up inside, because, you know, i never wanted to be -- I feel like I'm the worstest mother.
00:37:03This is not my home here.
00:37:03I'm not calling this my home.
00:37:04My home is with my children.
00:37:07>> An unfortunate fact of life at valley state is 85% of these women are mothers.
00:37:13They display their photos on cell walls or lockers.
00:37:19>> This is hunter and sierra.
00:37:20>> These are my girls.
00:37:24I love them so much.
00:37:26>> One of the more sobering differences between men and women's prisons is that many of the inmates who end up here never see their loved ones again.
00:37:32>> In the women's case they're frequently abandoned.
00:37:36There are not men in their lives that cared about them enough to stay with them during this difficult time.
00:37:40They come here and their families don't take the time to bother and come and see them.
00:37:46There are not as many men out there that want to communicate with and write to and send love stories and love letters to women that are locked up.
00:37:53>> It's saturday.
00:37:55Usually a prison's busiest time for visits.
00:38:00Yet inmate anza heathcock and her family have the room to themselves.
00:38:06>> Without them being here, i don't think I could make it through this.
00:38:10You know?
00:38:12Looking forward to their visits, looking forward to their letters.
00:38:15It makes my day.
00:38:16It really does.
00:38:18>> Anza's fiancee and three boys are visiting her.
00:38:23>> Miss her a lot.
00:38:24Just happy we could go see her today.
00:38:26>> Supposed to get married when she gets out.
00:38:29>> All the time she's been gone, it's like we never get to talk to her or anything else.
00:38:33All we get to do is to write her.
00:38:36When she gets out, she can probably come to our football games.
00:38:42>> You know I will, be there at every one videotaping it.
00:38:44You know I will.
00:38:46Just can't wait for me to get out of here and start living our lives like we should.
00:38:51I know that's my goal.
00:38:52I'm very blessed to have somebody take care of my kids.
00:38:54I know where my kids are.
00:38:55A lot of women in here don't know where their kids are.
00:39:01They don't have family or the family kind of shut them off.
00:39:03I'm fortunate enough that I've got someone who loves me and who will come 200 miles, however many miles to come see me.
00:39:15>> We're going to be here next weekend.
00:39:16>> You're going to be here every weekend.
00:39:19>> Anza heathcock was released from valley state in november 2000.
00:39:23Her sons are teenagers living at home with her.
00:39:25Anza is still in a relationship with her fiancee.
00:39:31Although advocacy groups sponsor bus trips to bring families to see their mothers, such trips are rare.
00:39:41Barely 1% of inmates have a visitor on any given day, meaning anza was among a precious, lucky few.
00:39:48>> It makes life in here livable.
00:39:50Gives you something to look forward to.
00:39:55>>> When we return -- ♪♪ the power to heal ♪♪
00:40:05>> while some look to god for love in prison, others look to each other.
00:40:09..
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00:43:05óoóo ????7?o ó >> Good morning, sisters.
00:43:21Good morning.
00:43:22>> Bless you.
00:43:23>> Bless you.
00:43:24Good morning, sisters.
00:43:25>>> One of the basic philosophies of the penal system is repentance.
00:43:28So it's no surprise that at valley state prison for women, so many inmates turn to religion.
00:43:32>> We come to worship you.
00:43:33We come to praise your name.
00:43:34>> Anyone that comes to god usually comes because of what motivates them is pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain.
00:43:40>> I can feel the lord in here which is something very, very -- it's drowning me.
00:43:50I feel so much peace with myself.
00:43:58I know he forgives me for being a rotten person.
00:44:01I know he forgives my sin and i know I can do anything.
00:44:03>> There are several religious options for the inmates, from this native american ceremony led by a cherokee healer.
00:44:10>> Connect to your center.
00:44:13We send our blessings out to our families that we miss very much.
00:44:17>> Only god is in that place.
00:44:20>> To this catholic service where inmates are anointed with holy oil.
00:44:26>> You will be healed.
00:44:27>> So many of our inmates have never been touched.
00:44:34The touching part is a real key for them, the very fact of the anointing and the blessing.
00:44:39The very fact that I can touch them on their forehead and on their hands, so I get this sense of relief for them, that somebody really cares about them enough not to touch them in a violating way or an abusive way.
00:44:56>> Because so many inmates have been physically and mentally abused, they come into valley state unaccustomed to nurturing relationships.
00:45:06>> One of the things that happens in the prison system for women is that women will sometimes build themselves a family.
00:45:14So a woman will become a father.
00:45:15A woman will become an uncle, a brother.
00:45:18And they will be pulled together into a family structure.
00:45:21>> They decide, this is an older lady, I look up to them, so this is like my mother figure.
00:45:27They start calling them mom.
00:45:29This is, you know, a lesbian female, this is my dad, you know, whatever, whatever.
00:45:37>> Lorena diaz is serving six years for manslaughter and an assault on an officer.
00:45:47>> Something that they don't get at home, something they've never had.
00:45:49In here the relationships are much more close because you're so enclosed.
00:45:52You see these people every single day no matter what you do.
00:45:54So you build these bonds with people.
00:45:56>> Many of these inmates become so close that their relationships go beyond mere support.
00:46:02>> Women have a much stronger need for touch and to be close to each other and to talk and to have close relationships.
00:46:12>> Married in prison?
00:46:13>> Yeah, I'm married in prison.
00:46:14>> To who.
00:46:16>> To a woman.
00:46:18>> You got married?
00:46:18>> I've been with the same woman five years.
00:46:21>> Many of our women prisoners who would not be gay or lesbians in the free world are, in fact, drawn to each other here in a supportive, family-like concept and that ultimately may lead, actually, into sexual, lesbian sexual relationships.
00:46:39>> When I first came to prison, about a year after I was in prison, I started being with women.
00:46:45Probably for affection.
00:46:47Now I don't be with women because it wasn't who I was.
00:46:50I was being lonely.
00:46:51I didn't know how to keep myself occupied.
00:46:56So I was with women.
00:46:57>> It's about being close to somebody, having somebody give you love.
00:47:03It's not -- even some of the lesbian relationships in here, you know, a lot of females come in here and they have husbands, they have five children at home or whatever.
00:47:15But they come here and receive love from somebody.
00:47:18You know what I'm saying?
00:47:18They find somebody who they care about and cares about them.
00:47:23>>> Coming up -- inmates look to their future.
00:47:26>> It's going to be a whole new world.
00:47:28You know?
00:47:29>> Both inside and outside the prison walls.
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00:49:30Just 2 aleve havethe strength to relieve arthritis pa óoóo ???'?G >>> Hi.
00:50:47>> How you doing?
00:50:47>> I'm doing fine.
00:50:48And you?
00:50:49>> I'm doing fine.
00:50:50>> Good.
00:50:51>> She's the one.
00:50:55>> I would love to have the women leave this prison better off than they were when they came in.
00:51:02That is my goal.
00:51:04That is our mission.
00:51:07>> When msnbc visited valley state in 2000, the recidivism rate was 55%.
00:51:14Despite official's hopes that it would decrease, that number has held steady.
00:51:18If the trend continues, more than half these women will come back.
00:51:21>> I'm 24 years old.
00:51:22I've done six months here already.
00:51:27I've come to terms with changing my life and my lifestyle and the friends and the people I hang around with in order to not come back to this place.
00:51:36This place is really not a bad place.
00:51:37They have a lot to offer you here if you take advantage of the situation.
00:51:41They've got schools.
00:51:42They even have college courses here that you can take and things like that.
00:51:45You can get yourself into something positive.
00:51:46You know what I mean?
00:51:47>> We can provide all the education and academic programs in the world.
00:51:53But the individuals who come through our gates have to be ready to accept those programs, have to be ready to say I need to change who I am and how i live.
00:52:04>> To help give inmates a marketable skill upon release, valley state has 15 vocational programs from welding to landscaping to cosmetology.
00:52:17Inmate marlene stollsmark used to be a drug dealer.
00:52:21>> Outside world, I ran a lot from the law, sold drugs to get by.
00:52:29You know, it was easy money instead of, I didn't really know too much of doing anything except running the streets and this is -- when they came here, they asked me, well, what are you interested in?
00:52:41I said nails, hair.
00:52:42And they put me in this program.
00:52:45It was good.
00:52:48A lot of us that's here really don't know nothing except what we've learned to bring ourselves here.
00:52:53If we had known a trade or something, we might have did that instead of doing what we did to get here.
00:53:03>> At the end of her ten-year sentence, marline hopes to open a nail shop of her own.
00:53:07>> I'm hoping it will give me a normal life where I don't have to look over my shoulder and wonder am I coming back.
00:53:14I don't think anybody really thinks about coming to prison and having to stay here.
00:53:18But it's the choices in life that we make that bring us here.
00:53:22Hopefully I don't make that same mistake and come back.
00:53:28>> I came in, in my very early 20s.
00:53:31I'M PUSHING INTO MY 40s NOW.
00:53:35My sentence was 15 to life.
00:53:36>> Inmate christy camp was convicted of second-degree murder.
00:53:39She works in the print shop.
00:53:40She dropped out of school in the seventh grade, but earned her high school diploma here at valley state before working on a vocation.
00:53:49>> Any type of learning a trade will give you a sense of accomplishment, boost up yourself esteem, give you job skills you can incorporate when you leave.
00:53:57>> Christy has been denied parole multiple times, but she hopes her new skill will make a difference if she leaves valley state.
00:54:05>> When I think about paroling, it's going to be a whole new world.
00:54:09You know?
00:54:11I've been in almost 20 years.
00:54:14I'm looking forward to residing in a community, being a community-oriented citizen, a homeowner, living the american dream just like everybody else.
00:54:21So that's what I plan on doing.
00:54:23>> Because a large part of the population at valley state is here for drug-related offenses, the substance abuse program remains many inmates' only hope.
00:54:33>> Good afternoon, family.
00:54:34My name is vonita.
00:54:37>> Hi, vonita.
00:54:38>> I want you ladies to put your legs down and relax.
00:54:41>> Vonita lee used to be a drug addict herself.
00:54:44Today as a counselor, she has a unique appreciation for the struggles the inmates face.
00:54:51>> It hurts me.
00:54:52It hurts because I feel irresponsible.
00:54:55I feel tarnished.
00:54:56I feel unworthy.
00:54:57But, you know, I'm working on that right now, you know what i mean?
00:55:02>> How has it made you feel when you see other kids -- your other peers with pictures and they're showing pictures and you're not showing any pictures of your kids?
00:55:10>> It feels -- it's like an emptiness, you know.
00:55:13>> These women are part of walden house, valley state's residential community for substance abusers.
00:55:24Today's topic is the effect the inmates' I diction has had on their families.
00:55:29>> Me and my kids don't have that relationship or that bond that a mother and child are supposed to have.
00:55:35>> So right now, if you could tell your kids anything, what would you tell them?
00:55:39>> I would apologize for not being the parent that I was supposed to be.
00:55:42I would tell them I love them very much.
00:55:44I would tell them not to make the same mistakes I did.
00:55:47>> I would like to give all you ladies a big stroke because you did some processing.
00:55:54I want to stroke the ladies that was here for support.
00:55:58It's important that we let these ladies know that the work that they're doing is very important because some of these ladies have held this stuff in for like 20, 25 years, and it's so hard for them to be productive out there in society because they have all this garbage inside and they've finally come to a place where they can release it and be safer while doing it.
00:56:16>> I lost my mother while I was locked up.
00:56:19I'm not real close with my family right now because the trust was lost.
00:56:24>> Some of these ladies haven't cried in many years.
00:56:27When we see the tears, we know it's cleansing them and it's helping them become that productive member of society.
00:56:34And it's very important that we hug them.
00:56:37That way they know that they're doing the right thing and it's okay to cry.
00:56:41>> Good job, good job.
00:56:43>> Single file.
00:56:44>> Okay.
00:56:45>> What I want, I want you to give me your whole name.
00:56:48>> Are you guys ready for your last patdown?
00:56:52>> These women are being paroled, and yet despite their hopeful smiles, odds are the majority will be back.
00:57:00>> What a parolee will leave with is their personal property that they have, and generally $200.
00:57:10Unless they have worked somehow and saved money or have had family or friends that have sent money for their trust account to give them something for a start.
00:57:16But generally it's $200.
00:57:21>> For many, the prospect of leaving valley state on parole doesn't bring hope, but fear.
00:57:30For inmates like a diaz, a life in prison is all they know.
00:57:39>> I'm scared to get out, you know.
00:57:40I'm scared because I don't know what I'm going to do, and I know how different I am now.
00:57:43And it's a weird experience.
00:57:44>> I don't feel like I'm a good person because the things I've done.
00:57:47They want you to be that good girl.
00:57:49So you can be part of society again.
00:57:51Part of me doesn't ever want to be part of society again.
00:57:57>> I think some of them actually like it here, and they get their families, you know, they create their families here, their friends.
00:58:04It's like a reunion.
00:58:06It's nothing new to them, and it's their comfort zone.
00:58:08>> It's traumatizing, just to look 19 years down the road, I'll be eligible for parole, I'll be too old.
00:58:18I won't be able to collect ssi.
00:58:21Any vocation I take now won't be any good by the time I'm old enough to parole from here.
00:58:27Technology changes every day.
00:58:28I have no idea what half the cars out there look like, let alone a computer.
00:58:31So it's going to be scary.
00:58:39>> On our return to valley state, we found life remains much as it was on our first visit five years earlier.
00:58:45While there may be new programs and increased funding in some areas, fundamental issues like drug addiction, recidivism and abandonment are unchanged.
00:58:53That's our report.
00:58:55Thanks for watching.

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