Lockup - Return to Valley State   View more episodes

Aired at 05:00 PM on Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 (3/6/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:00And I'm here for second-degree murder.
00:00:02And I have 15 to life.
00:00:08>> Sharon fennix is now 41 years old.
00:00:13>> Everything was, like, silent.
00:00:16You had to be very careful in the way you walked and the way you talked and your attitude.
00:00:21You know, I was dealing with women who didn't care.
00:00:25I seen one woman get beaten.
00:00:27I've seen women o.d.
00:00:29>> More than 80% of the women at valley state are in for drug-related offenses.
00:00:36>> I used to use heroin, started at 16 using it.
00:00:39>> I'm addicted to crack cocaine.
00:00:41>> Heroin.
00:00:43>> I've been using since I was 12 years old.
00:00:46>> Substance abuse is an underlying factor of most of the crimes committed by the women here because, in order to support their drug habits, they end up committing burglaries, petty thefts, various crimes that will result in a felony conviction.
00:01:00And as a result they end up in prison.
00:01:03>> What you mean you need some more food?
00:01:05Starving like what?
00:01:07>> Like I'm eight months pregnant and lost -- >> you're what?
00:01:11>> Eight months pregnant.
00:01:13>> Let me see.
00:01:14Oh, you are, aren't you?
00:01:15>> Gloria henry is the warden at valley state.
00:01:18She's run this prison since 2002 and has been working with women in corrections for more than 20 years.
00:01:26>> 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 because 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.
00:01:45They have no life skills.
00:01:46They didn't learn them.
00:01:48What they did growing up was survived.
00:01:52So, 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.
00:02:01>> This is the reception area at valley state where the new inmates are processed.
00:02:06>> Do you have any old cdc numbers?
00:02:09>> No.
00:02:12>> I've never been.
00:02:13I'm scared.
00:02:13It's scary.
00:02:14I'm ashamed of what I did too.
00:02:16>> Right now I'm numb.
00:02:17I don't feel anything.
00:02:20I don't feel anything because i just got here.
00:02:22So, I mean, I don't really feel anything yet.
00:02:23I don't know how it's going to be.
00:02:25I don't know what I'm going to face because I've never been here.
00:02:28>> 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.
00:02:37>> This is my fifth time.
00:02:38>> Your fifth time?
00:02:39>> Yes.
00:02:40My first commitment was petty theft with a prior.
00:02:42This is my fourth violation.
00:02:44>> I never said I wasn't going to come back because I'm a criminal.
00:02:47That's what I do.
00:02:49>> After the initial photographs, fingerprints and paperwork, the prison's medical staff examines each new inmate to assess her needs.
00:02:58>> That's the only thing you're under treatment for right now?
00:03:03>> 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.
00:03:10>> While segregated, the new inmates are psychologically tested to determine in which housing area they will be placed for their remaining sentence.
00:03:19>> 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, and we would need to treat them usually with medication and some supportive therapy.
00:03:37We also see people who have major depressive disorders, very sad, maybe suicidal.
00:03:42And these women may need medication therapy and also psychotherapy as well.
00:03:48>> Once the correctional staff screens each inmate for medical and psychological needs, as well as security risks, she's assigned to her housing unit.
00:03:58The women live eight to a room.
00:04:00>> 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.
00:04:13>> You better be quiet.
00:04:13You're going to get it.
00:04:16>> Friendships are lost on just one bad day in close quarters.
00:04:21>> Inmates not only have to get used to their new environment, but also the prison routine.
00:04:26A typical day at valley state starts early.
00:04:3330 breakfast is cooked and served by the inmates under staff supervision.
00:04:36The 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.
00:04:50>> When I first came to prison, I started fighting at anything.
00:04:54Anything you said to me would make me, you know, react.
00:04:58If I felt threatened.
00:05:01Most of the time I'd end up in cuffs.
00:05:04I've had several police tell me, you're going to be here until the prison falls down.
00:05:07And through going to groups and therapy, I finally learned that that wasn't the way to do it.
00:05:13I need to learn how to use talking skills instead of my hands.
00:05:16And with more help and more good functions, I have the chance to go home.
00:05:22>> Life here is about order and routine.
00:05:27By 10:00 p.m., it's lights out.
00:05:29But there are some places at valley state that never go to sleep.
00:05:32>>> Coming up -- [ screaming ] >> this is how it is 24/7.
00:05:40You have to be prepared for anything.
00:05:43>> Doing time at valley state's prison within a prison.
00:05:46>>> 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.
00:05:55>> We check back with someone who was just out of her teens when we first met her five years earlier and could spend her life [Music playing] Alright you guys, it's now time for the results of the Homecoming Queen election.
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00:09:12>>> Because I didn't like the way you allowed them to punk you.
00:09:16>> An act of violence or drug use inside the prison will bring an inmate here to the administrative segregation unit or ad seg.
00:09:25It is valley state's prison within a prison.
00:09:29While ad seg houses those 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.
00:09:41>> I was set up.
00:09:43I was set up.
00:09:44That's what I was.
00:09:46Inmates were afraid of me and they put a shank under my locker.
00:09:51>> They think I'm a threat to the institution.
00:09:53>> Inmates in the shu are kept in their cells almost 23 hours a day.
00:09:58They are allowed out for only three showers a week and ten hours in the recreation yard.
00:10:03Life in ad seg or shu isn't just a more intense experience for the inmates.
00:10:11Correctional officers like diane vasquez are under the pressure of dealing with a different brand of criminal.
00:10:20>> Working here in ad seg/shu is very challenging.
00:10:22You deal with a lot of physical abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse.
00:10:27It just depends on how much you let it affect you.
00:10:32You hear yelling.
00:10:34You hear cursing.
00:10:37You hear banging, kicking on the doors.
00:10:41This is how it is 24/7.
00:10:43At nighttime they don't sleep.
00:10:47Any time you're dealing with any of the inmates in here, you have to be ready to react to anything.
00:10:54So you always just got to be prepared, know your options when you're dealing with different situations.
00:10:58You always have to think two steps ahead to prepare for whatever can happen.
00:11:04>> An arsenal of nonlethal weapons like tear gas and rubber bullets provide stopping power in case of an incident.
00:11:11To provide added security for the officers, meals are delivered through slots in cell doors.
00:11:19Random cell searches are an effective way for officers to find weapons and other contraband before they can be used against staff and other inmates.
00:11:30>> I'm just checking some of the unclear containers for contraband because we can't see through this.
00:11:37We can take our light.
00:11:38If there's anything in here besides what's supposed to be in here, we'll be able to see it.
00:11:43That's an unknown liquid in this.
00:11:44This is a shampoo bottle.
00:11:45There should be shampoo in there.
00:11:47There's not shampoo in there.
00:11:48We use mirrors where we need to see, we don't want to get stabbed or poked.
00:11:52>> Although the officers search for all sorts of contraband, they are first and foremost on the lookout for weapons.
00:11:57>> It could be as simple as this right here.
00:12:00This is cellophane wrapped around a pen filler.
00:12:06And it's pretty stiff.
00:12:06It could be used as a stabbing weapon.
00:12:08So it's better that we take it.
00:12:10>> When it comes to crafting homemade weapons, an inmate's determination can be deadly.
00:12:18>> Right here is what we call a fashion block.
00:12:22What it is, it's a cutoff pillowcase.
00:12:27It's made into a handle.
00:12:27The inmate braids it to where they can hold it real tight.
00:12:32And what they do is they attack another inmate.
00:12:33Another common weapon for inmates to use would be a toothbrush.
00:12:40You melt the plastic down and they put a razor in there, which acts as a slashing device.
00:12:46Screws have been melted inside of a lighter.
00:12:51And you hold it.
00:12:54>> Keeps the inmates safe.
00:12:56Keeps the officers safe.
00:12:58So if we can stop it here, everybody's going to get to go home safe.
00:13:07>> Quit pushing on me.
00:13:09Quit pushing on me.
00:13:11>> Not all prisoners are in ad seg for disciplinary reasons.
00:13:15Cynthia menendez and linda donohue are here to protect them from their enemies.
00:13:21>> We're here because our life has been put on the line.
00:13:23You know, and we have families want to get home to, too.
00:13:27I was put back here because my life was threatened because my son testified and took somebody away from their family.
00:13:33And they were going to take me away from mine.
00:13:34I've been back here a little over a month.
00:13:38It's just getting harder and harder.
00:13:40I just felt like my whole world was crumbling.
00:13:43When I walked back here, I could just see horror.
00:13:45>> When you're taken out of your cell, you'rcuffed.
00:13:52It's very depressing.
00:13:52It's very humiliating.
00:13:53>> Linda donohue was assaulted at a nearby prison and was shipped to valley state for her protection.
00:13:57Now her attacker will be arriving at the prison so linda is moved to ad seg for her own security.
00:14:06>> Yeah.
00:14:07She slugged me, blood all over.
00:14:10I was choking on blood.
00:14:11I finally was able to get up, she had me pinned, I was able to get up and bang on the door for the officers.
00:14:16I'm scared of dying.
00:14:18I've seen people beat worse than what I got beat.
00:14:22>> For both women, the isolation of ad seg has provided a chance to reflect on their time behind bars.
00:14:27>> It was a reality check for me.
00:14:29It was really a reality check.
00:14:31And maybe this is what it took for me to have to realize it.
00:14:33This is not where I want to be.
00:14:36>> You're told not to be weak in prison.
00:14:38Don't be weak in prison.
00:14:39That's a downfall.
00:14:43I don't know how to be strong.
00:14:47I just had that one habit and i just couldn't break away from it, you know?
00:14:51It was like taking away the loneliness.
00:14:54>> Violence and drugs still take their toll inside valley state.
00:14:58Darlene acevedo is serving time for petty theft.
00:15:02But, as a drug user, she was sent to the ad seg for feeding her addiction on the inside.
00:15:06Which led to an attack on another inmate.
00:15:09She's been in ad seg for 21 months.
00:15:14>> This is the first time I've been sober in my whole life since I started using drugs, since I was 18.
00:15:21So that's what I meant by reality check.
00:15:26This has made me, me, the real person that I am.
00:15:29>> Darlene's facilities are basic, with a few luxuries like lotion, spices and a television, she spends her time reading with only pictures of her family to keep her company.
00:15:40>> They give me hope.
00:15:41When I look at my pictures, i know that I have a purpose.
00:15:45>> Today darlene will go before a committee to determine if she is fit to leave ad seg.
00:15:51>> She was originally placed in asu on 12/12/04 for battery on an inmate.
00:15:56Regarding the assessment of the shu term, icc found no factors in aggravation.
00:16:02It is further recommended that " >> the meeting brings good news for darlene.
00:16:08She will return to the general population.
00:16:09>> Everything is going to be fine.
00:16:11I'm going to make it.
00:16:12>>> When we return -- >> this place makes you hard.
00:16:18>> Five years later, we catch up with three killers who could spend their lives at valley state.
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00:19:22>>> When I was a little girl, no, I could never imagine myself being here today or coming to a place like this.
00:19:30When I was 16 in juvenile hall, fighting my case, I still didn't think about coming to prison.
00:19:35To 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.
00:19:45I didn't know what I was coming to, what it was going to be like.
00:19:50I've heard many stories of prison.
00:19:51I was scared, I was terrified.
00:19:52>> 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.
00:20:00>> I set up a drug deal.
00:20:01The drug deal turned into a robbery.
00:20:03The robbery turned into a murder.
00:20:05The girl turned state evidence and the guy was on the run and he ended up dying about a year and a half later.
00:20:11This place makes you hard.
00:20:13It can make you bitter.
00:20:15I don't think it rehabilitates you.
00:20:1990% Of the women go out harder than what they come in.
00:20:23>> Janice was pregnant when she was arrested.
00:20:27Her son was born six months prior to her being sent to valley state.
00:20:30>> I don't know what it's like to be a mother to him.
00:20:33To me I'm just the woman who gave birth to him.
00:20:35I'm not his mom.
00:20:37My stepmom and my father have raised him.
00:20:44>> Janice is now 26, older, wiser, and looking toward the future.
00:20:48>> Four years ago I was a wreck.
00:20:54I was real rebellious, didn't care about nobody.
00:20:56I don't even think I gave a damn about myself.
00:20:59To where now, four years later, I'm more mature.
00:21:03I care what happens to me.
00:21:05>> Janice also cares about the child she left behind.
00:21:08She hopes to be paroled within five years and, at last, be a mother to her son before it's too late.
00:21:15>> I think as he gets older and he comes to understand and realize where I'm at and I'm not 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.
00:21:28And I'm terrified he's going to make the same mistakes as I did.
00:21:33>> At valley state prison there are 385 women serving life sentences.
00:21:39>> Actually, four years ago, i couldn't see ever leaving here.
00:21:41I couldn't see leaving here.
00:21:44Now, as my board date approaches, I see that there might possibly be a light at the end of the tunnel.
00:21:50Only in the last year or so have I felt like, maybe this isn't what god has planned for me, to stay here for the rest of my life.
00:21:58>> Marta yulin is also a lifer at valley state.
00:22:02She was convicted in 1998 for vehicular manslaughter.
00:22:04She drove drunk and killed four people.
00:22:07>> I wanted to die myself.
00:22:09It didn't only affect the four people in that car but myself and my two children don't have their mother right now.
00:22:18The effects ripple on down and affect so many people that it's unbelievable.
00:22:24The pain will never go away.
00:22:27>> Marta is serving 15 to life.
00:22:31When we spoke to her in 2000, she was convinced that prison was the end of the line.
00:22:34But she may be eligible for parole as early as 2010 and longs to reunite with th family she left behind.
00:22:48>> 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.
00:22:54He's having the hardest time dealing with me being here, and we basically have had no communication since I've been in prison.
00:23:06But I'm faithful that god's going to turn that around.
00:23:09I know that god's always there.
00:23:10He 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.
00:23:25>> I've become a very angry person rather than, say, somebody who's looking at things and finding things better.
00:23:35There's nothing rehabilitating here.
00:23:39It's a drudgery really.
00:23:42>> When we last saw barbara erdman, she was 65 years old and one year into her ten-year sentence for murder.
00:23:50>> My husband had left me after 30 years, and I was having a very tough time with it.
00:23:58And all of a sudden I decided i was going to be me again.
00:24:02And I went over to his house.
00:24:04He 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 just sign the house over to me.
00:24:18And he got very irate and starting beating me up.
00:24:22When I backed up, his gun was on the counter.
00:24:26He carried it once in a while.
00:24:28And I picked it up and tried to scare him.
00:24:31And he backed off, but then he came at me.
00:24:36And I pulled the trigger, i guess.
00:24:39I really don't remember it clearly.
00:24:43It went off, and he died.
00:24:50>> Barbara had more difficulty adjusting to her time in prison than the others.
00:24:58Barbara will soon be 71.
00:25:03>> No, this is not life.
00:25:05I'll tell you that.
00:25:06You're definitely being punished.
00:25:07That's for sure.
00:25:09It's a nightmare.
00:25:12I still had not gotten over the shock of being here, and everything is so different.
00:25:18People are so different.
00:25:20They're not people.
00:25:24And I think I was still in shock at that time.
00:25:28I didn't really realize what was going on and what it would be like to be in here.
00:25:34And it's horrible.
00:25:37It really is.
00:25:40I don't laugh as freely.
00:25:44I don't live really is basically what it is.
00:25:51I try very hard to keep my spirits up, but there's some times that you just can't.
00:25:59If it wasn't -- if it wasn't for my family, my granddaughter who I've got pictures of, I wouldn't make it.
00:26:08I don't know what would happen.
00:26:13>> As these women get closer to freedom, they remain mindful of the fine line between getting out and actually moving on.
00:26:20>> 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.
00:26:28That's my number one priority, to be a mother to my child.
00:26:33I cannot bring those children back.
00:26:37I cannot bring the gentleman and his girlfriend back.
00:26:42And I can't wipe the tears of the family members or my own family members.
00:26:48But I can keep trying to move forward and do the best that i can do for others.
00:26:55I'll try to replace it that way.
00:26:56That's the only way I know how.
00:26:58>> 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.
00:27:07I want to see the outside.
00:27:10I want to see some beauty, try to forget about this place.
00:27:17>>> Coming up -- babies behind bars.
00:27:23And the women who have to give them up.
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00:30:37gordon brown is proing british troops in afghanistan new vehicles that can resist roadside bombs.
00:30:44Brown made a surprise visit to helmand province where two soldiers had just been killed.
00:30:50>>> Toyota is holding an event monday trying to prove that faty gas pedals are to blame for sudden acceleration.
00:30:57They're couning a critic who blames the electronic systems.
00:31:04" >>> medical care for all prison inmates is notoriously inadequate.
00:31:15At valley state prison for women, health care is indeed one of the facility's biggest challenges.
00:31:27For prisoners, it's also been a hot-button issue for years.
00:31:29Each day just after breakfast the inmates on medication line up for their daily doses.
00:31:32All drugs are regulated.
00:31:33Psychotropic, prenatal, even cold medicine.
00:31:36The inmates have long considered health care to be one of valley state's biggest problems.
00:31:41Despite being fully operational on our first visit in 2000, the facilities were understaffed and overburdened.
00:31:56There were less than ten physicians to care for more than 3,500 inmates.
00:31:59>> The medical care here sucks.
00:32:00>> Medical sucks.
00:32:01>> Medical sucks.
00:32:02>> We need better medical.
00:32:03>> I've been here eight years and never had a physical.
00:32:05They won't give me a physical.
00:32:06They said because I'm young and I'm healthy, I don't need a physical.
00:32:10>> 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.
00:32:28Is it still perfect?
00:32:29Do we have enough staff?
00:32:31Do we have vacancy issues and problems we're working with?
00:32:34But 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.
00:32:45>> Most of the difficulties stem from the inherent differences between male and female populations.
00:32:50Above all, pregnancy.
00:32:54>> Pregnancies in a prison provide a very unique problem for us because many of the women that are pregnant are in very poor health.
00:33:01They're ill when they are pregnant.
00:33:05They come here, and they're depressed.
00:33:07They have a number of issues going on in their lives.
00:33:09>> Approximately 175 babies are born each year to inmates at valley state.
00:33:19Building b-1 houses the expecting mothers.
00:33:20>> I'm having twins.don't know.
00:33:22I think I'm having a boy and a girl.
00:33:25I hope, that's what I want.
00:33:25I have a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old at home.
00:33:27So -- >> when an inmate is ready to deliver at valley state, she's brought to nearby madera community hospital.
00:33:32Correctional officers are posted outside the delivery room.
00:33:35But that isn't the only thing that separates these moms from the others in the hospital.
00:33:39>> When the babies are delivered, the mothers don't get to bring them home.
00:33:42>> A family member must pick up the newborn within 48 hours.
00:33:46Otherwise, the baby is placed in foster care.
00:33:51>> This is my son, manuel.
00:33:55He was a firstborn.
00:33:56He weighed one pound and nine ounces.
00:33:59>> When inmate amelia gutierrez was sent to valley are state for a parole charge, she was seven months pregnant with triplets.
00:34:11>> I had a really rough experience being here.
00:34:14For a high-risk pregnancy, this is no place to be.
00:34:17>> Amelia's delivery was dangerously premature.
00:34:19She had to be airlifted to a hospital capable of providing adequate care to her new family.
00:34:25But soon after delivering the triplets, amelia was given traumatizing news.
00:34:34>> I'm very grateful because two from the triplets, two of my children are still living.
00:34:44And my son, unfortunately, passed away, which was really hard because, you know, i couldn't be there for him like i should have been.
00:34:53The hardest thing was to lose my son, and, you know, just being away from my children, period.
00:34:59It's, like, really tearing me up inside because, you know, i never wanted to be -- I feel like I'm the worst mother.
00:35:11This is not my home here.
00:35:12I'm not calling this my home.
00:35:16My home is with my children.
00:35:21>> An unfortunate fact of life at valley state is that 85% of these women are mothers.
00:35:27They display their photos on cell walls or lockers.
00:35:31>> This is hunter and sierra.
00:35:32>> These are my girls.
00:35:34I love them so much.
00:35:35>> 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.
00:35:44>> In the women's case they're very frequently abandoned.
00:35:49There are not men in their lives that cared about them enough to stay with them during this difficult time.
00:35:55They come here, and their families don't take the time to bother and come and see them.
00:35:58There are not as many men out there that want to communicate with and write to and send love stories and love letters to women thatre locked up.
00:36:07>> It's saturday, usually a prison's busiest time for visits.
00:36:13>> Do that spin.
00:36:16>> Yet inmate anza heathcock and her family have the room to themselves.
00:36:23>> Without them being here, i don't think I could make it through this.
00:36:25You know?
00:36:26Looking forward to their visits, looking forward to their letters.
00:36:29It makes my day.
00:36:30It really does.
00:36:33>> Anza's fiance and three boys are visiting her.
00:36:35>> Miss her a lot.
00:36:38It's just happy that we can go see her today.
00:36:41>> We're going to get married when she gets out.
00:36:43>> All the time she's been gone, it's like we never get to talk to her or anything else.
00:36:46All we get to do is to write her.
00:36:49Hopefully when she gets out she can probably come to our football games that we're -- >> you know I will.
00:36:57Be there at every one videotaping it.
00:36:59You know I will.
00:36:59Just can't wait for me to get out of here and start living our lives like we should.
00:37:02I know that's my goal.
00:37:05I'm very blessed to have somebody to take care of my kids.
00:37:09I know where my kids are.
00:37:09A lot of women in here don't know where their kids are.
00:37:11They don't have family or the family gist kind of shut them off because they're in here.
00:37:17I'm fortunate enough that I've got someone who loves me and who will come 200 miles, however many miles, to come see me.
00:37:24>> We're going to be here next weekend.
00:37:27>> You're going to be here every weekend.
00:37:29>> Anza heathcock was released from valley state prison in november 2000.
00:37:36Her sons are teenagers living at home with her.
00:37:38Anza is still in a relationship with her fiance.
00:37:45Although advocacy groups sponsor bus trips to bring families to see their mothers, such trips are rare.
00:37:54Barely 1% of inmates have a visitor on any given day, meaning anza was among a precious lucky few.
00:38:01>> It makes life in here livable.
00:38:06Gives me something to look forward to.
00:38:09>>> When we return -- ♪♪ the power to heal ♪♪
00:38:16while some look to god for love in prison, others look to each other.
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00:41:27óoóo ????7?o ó >>> Good morning, sisters.
00:41:40Good morning.
00:41:41>> Bless you.
00:41:42>> Bless you.
00:41:46>> One of the basic philosophies of the penal system is repentance.
00:41:50So it's no surprise that at valley state prison for women so many inmates turn to religion.
00:41:55>> We come to worship you.
00:41:56We come to praise your name.
00:41:59Anyone that comes to god usually comes because of what motivates them is pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain.
00:42:05>> I can feel the lord in here which is something very, very -- it's drowning me.
00:42:13I feel so much peace with myself.
00:42:16I know he forgives me for being a rotten person.
00:42:22I know he forgives my sin, and i know I can do anything now.
00:42:28>> There are several religious options for the inmates, from this native american ceremony led by a cherokee healer -- >> connect to your center.
00:42:37We send our blessings out to our families that we miss very much.
00:42:40>> Only god is in that place.
00:42:43>> -- To this catholic service where inmates are anointed with holy oil.
00:42:50>> You will be healed of all diseases.
00:42:53>> So many of our inmates have never been touched.
00:42:55The touching part is a real key for them, the very fact of the anointing and the blessing.
00:43:03The very fact that I can touch them on their forehead and on their hands.
00:43:12So 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.
00:43:20>> Because so many inmates have been physically and mentally abused, they come into valley state unaccustomed to nurturing relationships.
00:43:27>> One of the things that happens in the prison system for women is that women will sometimes build themselves a family.
00:43:34So a woman will become a father.
00:43:36A woman will become an uncle, a brother.
00:43:39And they will be pulled together into a family structure.
00:43:43>> They decide, this is an older lady, I look up to them, so this is like my mother figure.
00:43:49They start calling them mom.
00:43:53This is, you know, a lesbian female, this is my dad, you know, whatever, whatever.
00:43:57>> Lorraina diaz is serving six years for manslaughter and an assault on an officer.
00:44:03>> Something that they don't get at home, something they've never had.
00:44:07In here the relationships are much more close because you're so enclosed.
00:44:14You got to see -- you see these people every single day no matter what you do so you build these bonds with people.
00:44:21>> Many of these inmates become so close that their relationships go beyond mere support.
00:44:25>> Women have a much stronger need for touch and to be close to each other and to talk and to have close relationships.
00:44:33>> Married in prison?
00:44:35Yes, I married in prison.
00:44:38>> To who?
00:44:39>> To a woman.
00:44:40>> You got married?
00:44:41>> I've been with the same woman for five careers -- years.
00:44:48>> 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.
00:45:02>> When I first came to prison, about a year after I was in prison, I started being with women.
00:45:08Probably for affection.
00:45:09Now I don't be with women because it wasn't who I was.
00:45:13I was being lonely.
00:45:13I didn't know how to keep myself occupied so I was with women.
00:45:20>> It's about being close to somebody, having somebody give you love.
00:45:25It'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, but they come here and receive love from somebody.
00:45:40You know what I'm saying?
00:45:42They find somebody who they care about and cares about them.
00:45:45>>> Coming up -- inmates look to their future.
00:45:49>> It's going to be a whole new world, you know?
00:45:54>> Both inside and outside the prison walls.
00:45:58>> Part of me doesn't ever want to be part of society.
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00:47:09Ho ho ho Green Giant óoóo ???'?G >>> Hi.
00:49:08>> How you doing?
00:49:09>> I'm doing fine.
00:49:10And you?
00:49:11>> I'm doing fine.
00:49:13>> Good.
00:49:15>> We love you!
00:49:17Yeah, she's the one.
00:49:18>> I would love to have the women leave this prison better off than they were when they came in.
00:49:23That is my goal.
00:49:25That is our mission.
00:49:29>> When msnbc visited valley state in 2000, the recidivism rate was 55%.
00:49:35Despite official's hopes that it would decrease, that number has held steady.
00:49:40If the trend continues, more than half of these women will come back.
00:49:46>> I'm 24 years old, and I've done six months here already.
00:49:50I've come to terms with changing my life and my lifestyle and the friends and the people I hang around with in order not to come back to this place.
00:49:58This place is really not a bad place.
00:50:00They have a lot to offer you here if you take advantage of the situation.
00:50:04They've got school.
00:50:05They even have college courses here that you can take and things like that.
00:50:07You can get yourself into something positive.
00:50:09You know what I mean?
00:50:10>> We can provide all the education and academic programs in the world.
00:50:18But the individual who come through our gates has to be ready to accept those programs, has to be ready to say I need to change who I am and how I live.
00:50:35>> To help give inmates a marketable skill upon release, valley state has 15 vocational programs, from welding to landscaping to cosmetology.
00:50:44Inmate marlene stollsmark used to be a drug dealer.
00:50:47>> In the outside world, I ran a lot from the law, sold drugs to get by.
00:50:54You know, it was easy money instead of -- I didn't really know too much of doing anything except running the streets.
00:51:08And this is -- when I came here, they asked me, well, what are you interested in?
00:51:14I said, nails, hair.
00:51:14And they put me in this program.
00:51:15It was good.
00:51:16A lot of us that's here really don't know nothing except what we've learned to bring ourselves here.
00:51:20If we had known a trade or something, we might have did that instead of doing what we did to get here.
00:51:26>> At the end of her ten-year sentence, marline hopes to open a nail shop of her own.
00:51:31>> I'm hoping that it will give me a normal life where I don't have to look over my shoulder and wonder, am I coming back?
00:51:38I don't think anybody really thinks about coming to prison and having to stay here.
00:51:41But it's the choices in life that we make that bring us here.
00:51:44Hopefully I don't make that same mistake and come back.
00:51:51>> I came in in my very early 20s.
00:51:54I'M PUSHING INTO MY 40s NOW.
00:51:55My sentence was 15 to life.
00:51:58>> Inmate christy camp was convicted of second-degree murder.
00:52:02She works in the print shop.
00:52:03She dropped out of school in the seventh grade but earned her high school diploma here at valley state before working on a vocation.
00:52:11>> Any type of learning a trade is doing to give you a sense of accomplishment, boost up your self-esteem, give you job skills you can incorporate when you leave.
00:52:20>> Christy has been denied parole multiple times, but she hopes her new skill will make a difference if she leaves valley state.
00:52:27>> When I think about paroling, it's going to be a whole new world, you know?
00:52:32I've been in almost 20 years.
00:52:34I'm looking forward to residing in a community, being a community-oriented citizen, a homeowner, living the american dream just like everybody else.
00:52:43So that's what I plan on doing.
00:52:46>> 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.
00:52:55>> Good afternoon, family.
00:52:55My name is vonita.
00:52:56>> Hi, vonita.
00:52:59>> First of all, I want you ladies to put your legs down, and I want you ladies to relax.
00:53:04>> Vonita lee used to be a drug addict herself.
00:53:07Today, as a counselor, she has a unique appreciation for the struggles the inmates face.
00:53:12>> It hurts me.
00:53:13It hurts because I feel irresponsible.
00:53:18I feel tarnished.
00:53:18I feel unworthy.
00:53:20But, you know, I'm working on that right now, you know what i mean?
00:53:23>> 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?
00:53:33>> It feels -- it's like an emptiness, you know.
00:53:36>> These women are part of walden house, valley state's residential community for substance abusers.
00:53:44Today's topic is the effect the inmates' addiction has had on their families.
00:53:48>> Me and my kids don't have that relationship or that bond that a mother and child are supposed to have.
00:53:53>> So right now, if you could tell your kids anything, what would you tell them?
00:53:56>> I would apologize for not being the parent that I was supposed to be.
00:54:03I would tell them that I love them very much.
00:54:06I would tell them not to make the same mistakes I did.
00:54:09>> I would like to give all you ladies a big stroke because you guys did some processing.
00:54:14I want to stroke the ladies that was here for support.
00:54:17It'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 safe about doing it.
00:54:39>> I lost my mother while I was locked up.
00:54:43I'm not real close with my family right now because the trust was lost.
00:54:47>> Some of these ladies haven't cried in many years.
00:54:51And when we see the tears, we know it's cleansing them and it's helping them become that productive member of society.
00:54:57And it's very important that we hug them.
00:54:59That way they know that they're doing the right thing and it's okay to cry.
00:55:03>> Good job, good job.
00:55:08>> Order and single file.
00:55:09What I want, I want you to give me your whole name.
00:55:12>> Are you guys ready for your last t-down?
00:55:20>> These women are being paroled, and yet, despite their hopeful smiles, odds are the majority will be back.
00:55:29>> What a parolee will leave with is their personal property that they have and generally $200.
00:55:34Unless 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.
00:55:40But generally it's $200.
00:55:41>> For many, the prospect of leaving valley state on parole doesn't bring hope, but fear.
00:55:48For inmates like lorania diaz, a life in prison is all they know.
00:55:52>> I'm scared to get out, you know.
00:55:55I'm scared because I don't know what I'm going to do, and I know how different I am now.