The number of women in U.S. prisons and jails has increased more than 700 percent since 1980. And for 25 years, Oklahoma has led the nation in locking up women. This week on Reveal, we look at the causes behind this spike.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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they were talking about prisons, to part of our occasional series, injustice for some. So, first off an interesting figure to think of him every woman imprisoned in ninety eight. There are eight today the male population, grew to its four times larger today than in nineteen. Eighty, this past summer, governors in law makers from around the country. Maiden. Why something to talk about the skyrocketing number of women behind bars. Ok, was governor. Mary Fallon was the key. No speaker, you could say, she's an expert on the subject I'll go home and fortunately has the dubious honour of having the highest incarceration rate of women in the nation and that is not something. I'm proud of Oklahoma rate is more than twice the national average, and it's been that way for twenty five years How can we tell crowds, as we don't have many women in Oklahoma, we just have some that have some issues we can expect,
it will govern Fallon means when she says some issues and the reality behind those numbers, the opium epidemic. Please role. Oklahoma has been hit hard, but is also big difference in the way men and women are treated reveals, You were brands, debtor teamed up with Allison Herrera and the entire to get a website the frontier to find out why we begin with vision. To Oklahoma largest women's prison. Mabel Bassi Correctional Centre is in the middle of the state just outside the small town Macleod, the land is flat windswept with Tumbleweed rolling across the road leading to the present, when else invisible centre had more than twelve hundred prisoners, including a woman sentenced to death so out What happens when you got there? Well first, I was met at the outside gate by the wardens assistant, his name's Corey catch important nice nice to meet you. It was cool.
Friday, and he was wearing a hawaiian shirt. He escorted me visitation room where I met one of the prisoners. A woman named Robin Alan Yeah Robin is fifty one years old, a short rocky woman with a round face and shoulder length, auburn hair, it's just after breakfast and she's back from the cafeteria, and I just got my coffee. Robins, never talk to a reporter before she tells She's nervous branded my pet I'll make a indeed my hair. It was like my guys, robins gonna go cotton uniform. That looks like hospital scrubbs. Her in my badge is on the front pocket. My badge is email, Alan, Robin and then it says, I'm a level for The level for is the highest that you can go wrong earned that level for good behaviour in her for years. There. She says she's taken every class, they ve offered anger management class called cage. Your rage, Bible study and a faith in character class
all count towards her getting out of prison. A little earlier, We had towards the day room, Robins unit things get noisy. This is where prisoners take classes socially and make phone calls In the middle of all this there's a line, a bunk beds, Oklahoma prisons, are crowd, and Mabel Bassett is no exception. Hundreds of convicted people are backed up in county jails, waiting to be transport to prison as soon as a bed is empty, but back to Robin, she said twenty year sentence for trafficking drugs. She told me but the day she was arrested. It was February twenty three team in the small town of Duncan in Stevens County. She just woken up. And was smoking a cigarette when the sheriff pushed in the door of her House Robin. Saw her daughter, Cerise dropped to the floor, a deputy,
had a laser cited rifle aimed at her dad. I hear the right red later. All my daughter's forget ed visages I just gave up Robin remembers. One of the officers told her. She was quote just a dirty drug dealer and does I have to go to jail, but she says what hurt the most was that four year old granddaughter saw the whole thing they he got this all. They take us up to the front porch My granddaughter was in the house and remember Rapporteur, ahead of us are trying to get me to hold, or you know that good no older gives up with it rob and her daughter were arrested and hauled off to the county jail. It was Robbins first and only felony charge. She had a couple
misdemeanours more than twenty years ago, one of them for returning, rentals tool, local video store and this felony charge was for a non violent crime. But of the bond hearing the didn't seem to take that into account. When we have a daughter with the court, the judge gave us one hundred thousand dollars bond. I said: can we please have all Lord? He said why he said: you're a menace to society drugs have been a menacing alarm in the early two. Thousands authorities were busting more than a thousand homemade methamphetamine lapse. Each year the state restricted Elsa the chemicals needed to make man, but more and two hundred and fifty people still overdosed on the drug in twenty fifteen raw, and had been using drugs for years, but he turned to selling them after she got hurt on the job, cleaning, hope I'll rooms. She didn't work and she says she sold math to support herself her daughter, your granddaughter in the end Robin and her daughter were both convicted? Her daughter,
probation Robin went to prison there. It one of your sentencing. Long till she got to prison. There is girls on my part that come from savings. Any one of them has there's another girl. There. Thirty got twenty from years. County trafficking a girl. There. That's got twenty five years for trafficking from Stevens County of an says, she's doing everything she can't stay clean and out of trouble taking Bible classes and bring other prisoners a couple of years ago. She the judge, a letter asking him you, Sir sentence, she didn't hear back that support it out and rear shall have more Robin story in a few minutes, but how common is it in opal, home she'll have more Robin story in a few minutes, but how common is it? An alcohol for women like Robin to get twenty years in prison for her first felony conviction. Zebra brand state are spent the past year and a half.
To find out she's now a senior editor reveal, but before that she covered crimson justice in Oklahoma. You find out once you get the data from the States prison system. What did you find out of data team, and I analyzed thousands of records going back almost twenty years. Local, who has never done this type of analysis of its own data. What we found was that the majority of women being sent to prison were being sent there for drug offences and their sentences are getting longer eight out of ten, when were locked up for non violent crimes, and for many of them it was their first offence. So story. The woman we just heard about fits that profile. She died and there's another thing. We learned, I looked which counties sent them most women the prison at the top of the Lester. Mostly world counties stay county. We're Robin Ellen is from ranked third and Robin was eight about our long sentence. It was nearly twice As long as the average sentence in the state for women convicted of trafficking. I went to visit district attorney, Steve Coon's Weiler, at the courthouse and Tulsa, and he has this theory.
He says rural counties are harder on women, because everybody knows everybody's business, every He knows who that wall is and and so there is an expectation at some point. Yet this personally my street, because I'm tired of them breaking into my barn broken into my buildings, it's hard to convince the community that you need a regular arms around the very person that you're all causes is probably going to steal stuff. While dismay explained why more rural women and about how we are going to present a dozen explain why their sentences are so long I went to see the director of Oklahoma prison system, Joe Album, to see if he the answer that his office is on. The campus have a minimum security prison in Oklahoma City, or we rohingya alibis gotta flat, topped Erika and where's cowboy boots is used.
Managing crises he directed FEMA under President Bush, but Oklahoma overcrowded prisons or a different kind of challenge. Judges. You go, you been before me five times, Susie Jones and there won't be a sick. I'm going to send you to prison, so I can get some help. Practically, there is no helping prison. We are very limited on our programs and there just is the bully We want a lot about girl at the gate It work, don't work, Oklahoma spend about five hundred million dollars a year prison system. It costs the state twice as much to walk a woman as it does to provide drug treatment on the outside now boss
as the state needs to reverse the trend, more treatment, less locking up ninety four percent of our population returns to society and what we want. We want better neighbours and the way work doing things and approaching things in our criminal justice system. When it comes to prisons, we're just warehouse Organization, that's all we are if we, do something different our population with women will increase fifty seven percent over the next ten years. Fifty seven percent at a huge number when you compared to other states like Texas, Utah, Georgette, Mississippi, they're, all conservative states like uh hello,
they have chosen to reform their criminal justice systems and reduce their present populations. Christine runs a nonprofit helping former prisoners find jobs before that he served in the Oakland Mama legislature. For twelve years. The last two as house speaker he's a rare breed of Republican in this red state because of his support for prison reform. When he became speaker, he was shocked when he realized how much money of lamas prison system was goblin up or states. Fastest growing expenditure? So it stands to reason the more money we spend on incarceration, the less money we have to spend on education on health care on issues, services for kiddos, Nattrass, situations for people and nursing homes or any other service. That would be an important function of government. Why
to bring down the number of women in prison is to help them get off drugs, while they're still behind bars and the state does have some treatment programmes. We visited one, it Eddie Warrior prison in the northeast part of Oklahoma How a group of women were marching formation around the yard, therein special boot camp programme aimed at replacing bad habits with discipline and structure come along wife, I got married vote, So one of the inmates was fifty. You're old Susan Watkins she's from a Oklahoma. Before we hear the rest of her story. You should know it deals with abuse and isn't appropriate for all listeners. Susan said she's been homeless, eating out of Afghans from adults and methods destroyed her life and our health, since
lost all her teeth, so she's a little hard to understand. A moment. Air diverting call time and I got way for I five years ago, Sometimes we do watch my mom made us watch. You have sex with undue and if we dance they're, both in our baby bowers. She D Manas this matter time in prison. I got very lucky, so I was lucky because, instead of serving her whole ten year sentence, she was offered boot camp and a reduced sense of only a year. Think about that. Instead of tat. Here is in prison. Just one besides them Terry Discipline, Susan gets therapy and a chance for a basic education. Is learning, how to read and has another point. For when she leaves once I get out of my get. My
there's another program and toss accounting that tries to make sure women don't end up in prison. In the first place, women in recovery and in two thousand nine, when a woman plead guilty you can choose to centre to the programme instead of prison at a ceremony. Earlier this year, more than doesn't women received graduation certificates from women and recovery run. A stone spoke to a crowd of supporters in France. She tell them how lost his son to gang violence and was sentenced to the programme after years of addiction and selling drugs I have been trying for twenty five years These are my home and get me anywhere coming to save my life. Their stories were painful, but the ground The was a celebration I judge who had sent. Several of these women and of apis are too
gets as their families cheered. The Ladys on the numbers show. Women and recovery is having an impact than women going to prison from Tulsa County is dropping, while numbers from Other countries continue to rise, so grams like women and recovery work. So well, why are they use around Thursday state two reasons. One is a lack of state money, women and recovery is funded by Oklahoma Oil Man and millionaire George Keyser Foundation. Another is pushed back from powerful prosecutors who don't favour reducing charges and rely on a lock him up. Attitude even too strict attorneys in urban areas such as David Prater from Oklahoma City, believe and tough prison sentences, guided me into his office. A conference table in the middle of the room was strewn with papers and folders worms. Speak much right now that since you're here in twenty, sixteen oklahomans,
to reduce sentences for drug possession in public forms. Prater spoke out against the changes he says. Without the fear of going to prison, drug attics won't show their ways. I'll tell you. I can't even give you a number of people. There told me David or Mr De or whatever they want to call me you. No idea, but you saved my life when you sent me to prison in a report early this year. I state taskforce recommended twelve changes and state law looting cutting sentences for drug crimes and half mode the changes never became law Prater explained the change comes slowly, Oklahoma, where religion An tradition are powerful forces. Do you know where buckle, the Bible Bell and you think that Women wouldn't be viewed as property, many times they are. So if you want, look at what what starts all of the things
we're talking about that really leads to the incarceration issues. It sees massive social issues that are just gonna. Take a dramatic cultural shift in Oklahoma, says in charge A retired sociology, professor at the University of Oklahoma, agrees she's, worse the states high female incarceration rate and wrote a book about it. It's cool mean lives, mean laws. I think the general popular not the state feel set a woman in pursuit a woman who has children who uses drugs violates all the norms in a way that they find an acceptable, and they would are there sea? Does children grow up and foster care than to be with a mother who had a drug problem? The majority they have women in Oklahoma prisons, have a child being raised by some one else. In some way, is women receive more time than men for the same crimes. Women
firstly, the caregivers, their spouse be responsible for the children, no matter what the eyes of the general population, so men while Their drug use is viewed as bad. It doesn't have that same connotation have been a bad mother incarceration doesn't effect just one woman when you send a woman to prison, it affects Jenner patients about omens. You can sometimes spying in the Department of corrections, three generations of a family incarcerated at the same time, for example, mother, a mother, the daughter, said three generations. Three generations. It's like a domino effect on families in Oklahoma and Robin Alan. The woman we met earlier fits that pattern. Herrera picks up the rest of her story. It's been a couple months since I talk to her
she's, not several years into her twenty yourselves. I called her up to see how she's doing I got a call from our Donna Thunder neighbour basket, collection of censure. I Robbin hurry you in June, two thousand sixteen Robinson, sure, violated her probation. She was sent to the same prison as her mother. On that day, Robin watched anxiously looking at each woman who walked into the day room. Tell me in a way that are a boy here and at european level on, Robin was allowed contact with her daughter,
because they were serving time for the same sense. If Robin got caught, she can be sent to something called the shoe segregation cell. That's basically the size of a shower stall, and she was like very warmly walking. And I was never table. A guard was near by what happened to turn away and art started talking to you in another main, until unhonored hearing how I'm? U renewing new cry. When I got there While she sat a halfway house in Oklahoma City, shoes is working on rebuilding her relationship with her own daughter, whose now seven her husband, in short, a visit once a week, Greece will be released in two thousand and nineteen Robin
will be eligible for parole that same year, zero brand. Staring Nelson Herrera brought a sad story, as we just heard. Oklahoma is beginning to send more people to drug and alcohol treatment programmes instead of prison, but not all week. It was created eat next week on reveal we find out how some people are ordered to work for free in chicken plants as a part of their treatment. Coming up. The story of a man who says his faint rested with just two people: the prosecutor at the defensive. We will please you you talk about You need to hear me out one man's accidental journey into the heart of our criminal justice system. When we come back on review
from the centre for investigative reporting in p r eggs from the centre for investigative reporting in p r ex this is reveal a mallet Gray Monday last spring and Norton Jersey, Ronnie rabbits picked up his older brother, Michael in historical role. This is my first riding with Mr Rocky You wouldn't know from his laugh and baby face, but rotten, had been
I'm bars for eighteen years, and so just a dream. I've his brother around, nor their hometown had to learned the city, I lost a lot of landmarks and I started, I grow we're both road. While he was locked up his father died The high rise housing project where he was raised had been demolished and everyone he knew had gotten a smartphone changes but story: isn't about how hard it is to adjust to life after prison. This story is about how one man got stuck there longer than anyone intended. He is reveals, stand awkward growing up, Ronnie Rob tat a hero ass. You know you can was a man of your hometown.
Raised over me. I tried everything. Mrs Tv footage of evil Knievel about to jump over fourteen Greyhound bus is really garbage cans flat on the ground shuffle my children garbage can gas we can make. Lexus cars is to data, it was, but there was the courage of it so When I order being afraid we would have a motorcycle, Ronnie says in the mid nineties. He and his friend each put in cash for a black and yellow Kawasaki. Came to as we ride by blue. Every came possessive, They will need it. I can't I can't give you you right now
I'm a rider by me annual by this fight over. Motorcycle started. Chain reaction. Rodney says he called the police, but the title was in his friends, name life, and I say this: I feel that I have no proof by another the police arrested, Rodney and eventually brought him to a holding cell. Just outside the court room where Rodney thought he'd be charged with fast would cut the day was suddenly there. I'm more choice, You know you were charged with kidnapping and text. She saw they were kidnapping, and sexual assaults mother seventeen year old girl, Rodney New. Exactly how serious these charges were because a decade air. When he was nineteen Rodney was convicted of sexual assault and served seven years in prison. He
Two other men had stolen a thirty two year old, woman's car and raped her even Rodney knew he was innocent of this new crime. He thought the moment he walked in at court room. Everyone. Assume he was guilty. Instead, he decided stay in the holding cell. I refuse to go at a global level. Dignified. These charges would my president important instead of physically dragging him in front of the judge. Ronnie says they just open the court room door and the judge shouted so Rodney could hear Ronnie robbers So I somebody Sharia Navy, wasn't it These charges your charge with hid his agitated how you flee not guilty and closed the door I was so afraid I was I why we no money I couldn't get a lawyer I don't know. What's goin on
pull my hair out because the panic and a catastrophe, the court gave Rodney a Publican. Under but Ronnie, says his lawyer had bad news she's gone all less. You know that the victim she waited ten per day. Who offered guy? He told me: the victim had picked his mug shot out of a photo line I commend this. He's a man if you were to spend the rest of your life in jail, but then his they gave him a way out. The prosecutor would throw the sexual assault charge and the possible life sentence. Rodney would get seven years in prison and with luck be out into all we had to do was plead guilty to. Second degree, kidnapping only words Fletcher However, please will you talk about it? You need to hear me out. This is what usually happens.
Despite what you see on tv, only a tiny fraction of american criminals are convicted by a jury more than ninety four percent trade, their right to a trial for faster later punishment, as the Supreme Court put it in a twenty twelve decision. We bargaining is not some adjunct to the criminal justice system. It is the criminal justice Rodney took the police, the to have had. Ships in their favour? They seem to have had everything wind up already told door myself, Craig great Justice now? Let no semi to jail for the rest of my life. In a moment. Through my life that thought lasted until Rodney went before the judge who asked Did you hold an individual age? Seventeen against her will with the intent to assault her, and he said yes, as if a
Ray myself in a waiter, We measure gay, my life for problem Bank of Mitt a I guilty to something know. I ain't do so angry at myself, really show more about it, about a girl. I would leave the mother. Does smaller before his arrest, Rodney had been paralegal and at them Maximum security prison in Rahway, New Jersey, equities, legal skills to work trying to undo his guilty plea that so much time in the law library. He says the prison gave him his own desk, but nothing he tried worked. He served seven years of his sentence. The last day, this spring Sunday in two thousand for robbed me.
And the other prisoners scheduled for release weighted by the gates, while the guards called their names and let them out one by one. They call me said: well, well, yeah I forgot somatic. They opened the gate, they leave a now and it was then I am a yo. Yo forgot me: use gone mad shouted the day when it a whole and we all know what do they say? We can't you go, and this is where on the story leaves the black and white worlds of crime and punishment and enters the grace of the prison. Let's put shackles around Rodney waste, ankles and wrists put him in a van, and they went out a whole and we all know what they say. We can't you go please, we will be told him that New Jersey special treatment in a a special treatment enters a grey.
She'll treatment unit is a prison building staffed by prison staff, but the state Does it consider it a prison? It holds me against their will, but it calls them residents not inmates because, like rod me, they ve already served their sentences are being held what's called civil commitment more commonly used to hospitalized people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, but twenty states you civil commitment to hold sex offenders than psychiatrists have deemed mentally abnormal and likely to commit sexual violence? Again they were we hold you because we gathered chart nature, determine if you gonna commit a crime and a future We used my people with schizophrenia bipolar in, but future states use civil issue. The chart turns a cripple history into a score one point for a sex offence. Another point The victim is a stranger and so on raw his number marked him as a high risk
evaluation didn't and there he was interviewed by Whole series of psychiatrists, your members, one asking what do if martians tried to abduct them as well. One point for a sex offence. Another point up the victim is a stranger and so. How'd you get, is rigour from us the high risk get your evaluation didn't and there did not go over well. And neither did him saying I didn't do it not only did psychiatrists, not believe him they saw his denial as proof. He wasn't ready for treatment treatment. He in order to be released. He was trapped and the worst part was he felt like he'd set the trap himself. The had undo what I did to myself so that, with the past And then I am and I'm good at it away. I got myself here, so I would get myself out he spent years filing more motions and appeals and getting more lawyers to work on its case
Two thousand five one lawyer. Down the victim who said the story about picking, robbed me out of a photo lineup wasn't true. She didn't even know anyone had been arrested. That wasn't enough. What Rodney needed was something prosecutors we didn't exist, a rape kid with the rapists DNA Rodney eventually got a court order to force the prosecutors to do one laughed search. I got a phone call from level is very founded. They were fairly laws. They reach, organise a man they clearly innovation and miserable for three years. Think about a new at this point was suggested material, I will be exonerated, I know Nowhere mama sure enough.
Results came back, it wasn't. Rod needs dna. Oh my father worked say how, like after meter, away. Lady general bands, Ronnie was least, on March Fourteenth twenty fourteen after supper, Seven years in prison and another eleven in civil commitment, the american psyche, Patrick Association has called the process used civilly, commit sex offenders and unacceptable to use of psychiatry and broadly agrees How many more mistakes is? Have you me who else have you there's wrote the report on a common occurrence? S offer their disguises you wrong. Today. Adamant about us. Why would be wrong? Rodney is suing the city, the county, the prosecutor, the cop who claimed
We have done the photo line up and the public defender. Who negotiated is plea bargain he seeking thirty. Six million dollars in restitution. Ronnie is on the way to becoming a lawyer himself at each fifty one he's in his second year of law school. He wants to be a criminal defence attorney to give others the help he didn't have. That was reveals stand outward thanks to aunt wangle day, who first reported Roddy Robert story. You can read that and see Rodney story told in illustrations at reveal news dot, org Ronnie Roberts didn't go to trial. He took a plea bargain, like most people who end up in prison to get it right. Percent of why that is called of Angela Davis LAW, professor at once
in college of LAW at American University and editor of the recently published book policing. The black man is Davis thanks for joy me, thank you, having me so. The sixth amendment gives all Americans the right to a fair trial, but as we heard it Rodney story. Almost nobody exercise that right. They take plea bargains. Wiser well, Reason, for that is, prosecutors are by far the most powerful officials and our criminal justice system, because they decide whether a person is going to be charged with a crime and what that charge or those charges will be so what secures will often do is they will charge a person with multiple offences because they can even Sometimes when they know they don't have enough proof to ultimately convict them trial and when a person is faced with multiple charges, each of which may carry law prison terms you can see
now. Even an innocent person would be compelled to plead guilty because going trial is risky business. You never know what a jury is going to do, but if a prosecutor says how dry all, but one of the charges, if you please guilty to one person facing them possibility of being convicted of lots of offences. My just take the plea: don't they Venice, have some power to they can accept or reject the police sure they can reject the plea. Of course they can. But if you are a poor defendant with an overview- public defender who's got tons of cases. No, resources to investigate the case, and even if here, she did have. Resources is not given the time to to do the investigation. We see that as a position of power will tomorrow of every criminal defend and said. No, I'm not taken a plea. Bargain I'm going to trial well, have every
criminal offences that I'm going to try. The system would crash for sure I mean there would not be sufficient resources to have all those trials. So how do we fix plea borders if we had a fair system where prosecutors only charge the offences that they knew they could prove B. And a reasonable doubt if they gave full and open discovery, to defend sectors. By that I mean show the defence a turn all of your evidence. One of the main causes wrongful convictions in this country's because prosecutors don't comply with them. If they would give defence attorneys time to fully investigate the cases before they decide whether to take the plea bargain. All of those things were done than it would be a fairer system, but that's not the it's done mean you have some jurisdictions where process Peters on day won the day, the defence a train meets his or her clients, saying a tenuous
I'll give you a good deal, but he's got it. Take the deal today or its off the table. We met the position that they put the defence attorney and, of course, the defendant and in its just said that this is what was passing has just as in our and our criminal justice system. Today, the Van A majority of prosecutors are local elected officials. We need to hold them How about we need to ask them the hard questions we need to educate ourselves. As merely about how these issues work? Prosecutor don't talk about there? three bargaining policies when they run frogs. All they talk about, is being tough on crime, most of them run on oppose and when they have an opponent, the upon it talks about how he or she is tougher on crime but they're they're. There there's change, I mean I think we ve arm is coming about slowly but surely- and I think prosecutors are now here you know that there's Call it a wave of new prosecutors, but I think sufficient prosecutors out there who are cheap
changing the way, their doing business and I'm feeling full about their and hoping that the numbers will increase Angela Davis, a professor at American Universities, Washington, college of LAW and editor of the recently published book policing, the blackmail when people end up behind bars, one escape can be through words, putting them down on paper, many a man, use a special see through typewriter funerals. Even our rhythmical is transparent because there's room and therefore pills and razor blades and wherever possible, very important that everything be see through its sometimes the only two, besides pen or pencil, for pounding our prison memoirs fiction in jail. Appeals that story
when we come back on reveal from the centre for investigative reporting in p r, exe from the centre for investigative reporting in p onyx. This is reveal a mallet talk in this hour about the forces that send people to prison. Now a story that has some prisoners do their time and something they can open in bars at least mentally introduce you to Kenneth Foster Junior,
I do I write. Some of them These concrete catacomb when I'm jealous is right. What about right from what did indeed insane asylum continued Kennedy is also an inmate state prison in Burma texts Kenneth party to a murder in eighteen? Eighty six, he and some friends had been people on the streets of San Antonio later that night, one of his friends shot and killed someone Kenneth testified that he was eighty feet away when the man was shot and that he didn't know his friend was gonna kill. Anyone still and it takes us law. He was sentenced to be executed and that's how can it became a writer, one day on death row. He watched as prison guards dragged a fellow inmate out of his cell to be executed by gas they publish their with gas than when he still wouldn't come out. They ran in subdued and dragged them out.
Did. I was in the same exact position. Is this man? You know lined up for next Houston and it just really changed me canister dry, to make sense of what he saw. Because he didn't want to meet the same fate. He began write letters to attorneys, imprison advocates. He started with pencil and paper in all their work. Why not within fails, then they didn't have a work. Unlike the extra nighttime, I would have kind of stood up to the door and I'm right by the light that was in a breaking through the sides of the doors and things like that eventually was able to buy a typewriter with money from his family as he tapped away. His letters became more frequent and more
when I get him on the head. Little Rinki, big machine, you know made me feel like out with somebody like the world's became available. Semi can closed his first machine, helped him type of an application for clemency and in two thousand seven just hours before he was scheduled to die chemist learned, it was approved. His sins was commuted to life in prison. So what am I right? I write a b be alive in a world where air and nobody drama in our life go makin. I'm here finally ready to answer all the wise since then can escape writing letters poems essays a few years ago, his typewriter broke
the commissary to buy a new one and discovered there was only one model available made almost entirely out of clear plastic reporter Daniel Gross went to visit company that has a new monopoly or machines that help prisoners right headquarters of this winter corporation is in a one story. Building in monarchy, New Jersey, it's almost empty when I arrive at MIKE The prison sales manager directs me to a swing Tec to one for six. If the size of a big shoe box and the clear plastic case thing reveals the gods of the machine, a green computer chip and bundles of colorful wires we shall now works nature a piece of paper. Kiss me
ed feeds a piece of paper through a black roller. This is an electric typewriter, so when he starts tapping on the keys, a little ball with letters on it starts spinning. Spinning ball is what presses each letter onto the page access when tax sells a range of office. Equipment from cash register is encountering machines to typewriters, but when computers came along, nobody wanted to buy typewriters, except in one place with think about the present market until the early two, thousands prior to that we had. No, no sense of the amount of business at worst is available through the present most presence, and computers. These explanation is that prisoners could use computers to hide contraband or improvise weapons, so so intake did some research, they realized have a leg up if they built their typewriters out of clear plastic, making it impossible to
I'd anything inside and nobody knows even Rebecca centres is transparent because his room and therefore pills and razor blades and wherever and also for imports, Then everything DC through now They sell several thousand clear typewriters per year. Ed is proud of it companies machines. Prisoners have a lot of time on her hands if they can feel time doing something creative instead of thinking of something do you know, this is good for them, good for them could for their mind. My name is John Jay. Prison journalists currently a thing thing. John Jay Lenin has been incarcerated in New York since two thousand too I want to know whether he agreed with Ed. That's when take typewriter have a positive effect in prisons, but I came at first, I was pretty much a full fledged nitrate education.
In order, I pretty much sock as a person and my mother used to remind me of how could have a writer. I wasn't seventh grade one day at Attica, prison cell Mate saw John reading and told them about the attic writers workshop, it was taught by professor from Hamilton College John joined. The workshop and with money from his family. He bought his first syntax. I write Mysel crunched over. Hours on an upside down bucket typewriter on my bed. The bucket kind of love and am leaning over the bad weather were the typewriter rose, so my lower back is killing me. Why don't you stop here for hours without Vienna in his own? So that's why I get up and I'll pace with my headphones on the basics reject model cuss. Two hundred twenty five dollars John chose a model with memory, so the type
better custom around three hundred fifty dollars. When Is it John at Sing sing correctional facility where his house, now he tells me that is when tech empowers him even as a typewriter. Tattooed on his arm. John. When TAT helps and become a professional writer a few years ago, heat the story about his experience with fire a gun illegally. It was swift and cowardly, defenceless, distracted by music Alex passenger of the rental, and I made my way to the trunk. I remember Frankie's words, it's loaded talk in the safety use. All all you have to do is pull the trigger. At that point, in our lives alex- and I often early twenties- were gone- toting dogs immersed in gangs, the culture ones It was finished John mailed it to magazines. It was pushed on the website of the Atlantic of murder, John now makes a modest income by reporting stories behind bars. One of his up,
Being stories will be in Esquire magazine But he also says that his typewriter is out of reach for most prisoners created fifty out and a lot of appears obviously care for that This time, John was transferred between prisons. His when tat cracked in half to get a new one and every typed page costs money because winter in griffins often run out after a dozen pages who so the cartridges early expensive to get into. The Pinochet itself like in cartridges, are like dollars for each cartridge dollars per cartridge, which translates into several hours of low wage prison, labour per page John. Eventually, and work around he types on carbon paper that allows them to write without ink. Foster Junior in Texas, has them complaints about his when tactile you're a meal, that said, button stop working.
During goes off a few times, Canada. That two hundred twenty five dollars, place his machine? He wrote that's a ludicrous price to pay for such junk but for a person that produces as much material as myself, absolutely necessary? I asked Michael the prison sales, rapid, swim tech, why a plastic typewriter would cost as much as a cheap, laptop computer, in one prison sales catalogue, Swinton typewriters, the most expensive item more expensive than flat screen tv We don't feel that our machine is overpriced. We think is it fair. Fair price the attack doubted that we developed the van majority of american prisoners are indigent but had says that even prisoners who don't have any financial support, can save up for one prisoners. They work, they know they can. They can earn money. You know they make anywhere from nineteen to
twenty nine cents an hour. A quarter of an hour that two dollars for a full days work. I did the mouth the prison. It is making a quarter of an hour, would need to spend a thousand hours working before they can buy us when tack, which take years and that's not the ink ribbon cassettes or the cost replacing a broken machine, maybe another reason. Why reason why Swinton typewriters cost so much alot of states which may they dare to remain, can only by those types of machines there's almost no competition, because nobody else makes clear typewriters. I ask my whether he knows about prisoners like Kenneth and John Prisoners, depended on swine, take typewriters to access the outside world. He tells if he does get letters and phone calls from inmates in their families, and occasionally he hears stories that surprise him. We had a person, California, who was a gang leader
and he was in death row row. Children's books. Why not to be in gangs? but then my honest contact this winter, Even the nominated improve Nobel Peace Prize for his work at its talking about stuff Let Turkey Williams, who killed several people in LOS Angeles, the story. Does team inspiring He tells me how it ends up and you know to haven't He was certain death row, so they didn't finalize a sentence. They did it he's not here anymore. Turkey Williams left behind eleven published box. One of them is called the redemption Daniel growth. Is a writer and reporter in Boston eroded. Version of the story for the website of the new Yorker you can read. Can its poor y see a pitcher of John Jay linens typewriter tattoo on our website reveal
whose dot org, This week show was produced by Zita Brands, debt or else in Herrera stand out. Corn Amy won't in the window. Hasty are editor was to have George, lead sound designer and engineers Jim Briggs. He had held this week from clear mulling. Catherine Raimondo in catch movement. Music is weak from Routine air bluish amiable our editor in chief Suzanne Rivers, executive, editor and executive producer is Kevin. Solving a theme is because by camaraderie light support for reveals, provided by the Raven David Logan Foundation, the Ford Foundation to John D and Catherine T Macarthur Foundation, the genus and James I might foundation the Housing Simons Foundation and the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation reveal is a co. Production of the centre for investigative reporting is p or Ex Alison and remember, there is
always more to the story where. These are last few shows of the year, and let me tell you in twenty twenty we are bringing the fire, launching some of our most ambitious projects we ve ever done. I can wait for you to hear them reveal is all about going deep. Pulling on threads telling stories that matter and this kind of investigative journalism. Well, it takes time and it costs money. These are the final of our end of EU membership campaign. We depend listeners like you to help make this work possible to support us just takes the wardrobe.
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Transcript generated on 2019-12-21.