Survivors Guide To Prison (2018) - full transcript

Following the stories of Bruce Lisker and Reggie Cole who spent year after year in prison for murders they didn't commit - audiences get a harrowing look at how barbaric the US justice system is. The film ultimately asks how we can survive the prison model at all, and looks at better solutions for conflict resolution, harm reduction, crime and more. Hosted by filmmaker Matthew Cooke and guest hosting representatives from the massive range of Americans joining forces to change this broken system.

Welcome to
the United States of America.

We call this
the land of the free,

but this country is home

to the largest prison population
in the world.

2.2 million Americans.

We put more people in cages
here than China,

Russia, than anywhere.

We have more people in prisons.

More than we have colleges
and universities.

1/3 of all incarcerated
females globally

are locked up here
in the United States.

13 million Americans
are arrested every year.

- Get your hands off the truck!
- I'm not doing anything.

Put that in perspective--
imagine all of Los Angeles

and all of New York combined
arrested every year.

There are countless heroes
in law enforcement

saving lives every day.

[female reporter]
Able to pull her limp bo--

But not a single state
in our union

- has use-of-force laws...
- I can't breathe!

that meet even the most basic
international standards...

[woman screams]

With record poverty,
drug use,

and countless nonviolent
social issues

left to our police officers
to solve with only three tools,

we have a national crisis
on our hands.

Of course,
we need dangerous people

removed from our communities.

But how many Americans
are really so dangerous...

He's arresting me.

that they need to be locked
in a cage?

I enrolled my girls
in my father's school district.

- They sent me to jail.
- [wailing]

They sent my father
to jail, too.

My father never came home.

The law enforcement apparatus

is deployed disproportionately
against people of color.

If you're a black man,
your crack is gonna get

300 times more than your...

We know reform
is desperately needed,

- but how do we reform...
- Can't record inside.

when prisons don't just
lock people up inside?

You don't want to tape me
with your telephone!

- Get it all!
- I'm a member of the press.

- They lock us out.
- Pack up and go.

Citizens, the media,
independent journalists

are all routinely barred
from recording or documenting

anything that's going on inside
our criminal justice system.

You're a chicken shit

We have to get all our
information and impressions

from corporate
commercially funded television.

[man] If you can't do the time,
don't do the cr--

These shows are filmed
and edited

under tight supervision.

They're not going
to prepare you

for the inhuman conditions,
the violence

and brutality
you're going to have to face.

You think because
you obey the law,

you have nothing
to worry about.

[Matthew] But recently,

the Wall Street Journal

we now have so many laws
on the books,

the average American
commits three felonies a day

- without even knowing it.
- He didn't do anything!

As an American, you're more
likely to go to prison here

than anywhere else in the world.

You need to know how
to handle

an out-of-control
police officer.

Yes, why am I gonna--

[Matthew] How to survive
an interrogation,

how to survive County jail
and an extreme prison sentence.

[woman wailing]

To take us through the steps...

we're going to follow
the stories of two Americans...

Bruce Lisker, an innocent man
convicted of murder,

and Reggie Cole,
another innocent man

who endured
an even more horrific nightmare.

We're going to get perspectives
from investigative journalists,

analysts, academics,
prison staff,

lawyers, cops, inmates.

So in the unfortunate case

that this may happen to you,

this is the survivor's guide
to prison.

* They controlling you?
They got a hold on you *

* You need a man in a suit
to tell you what to do? *

* I'll grab the podium mic
and open the knife *

* We don't read
between the lines *

* Let alone the stripes
and the stars *

* Presidents get popped
in their cars *

* I ain't coppin' the drop,
real talk *

[door clangs]

[Susan] As an American citizen,
you don't have to be

a murderer or a rapist
or a thief to be arrested.

You can call the police
in an emergency

and find yourself arrested
just because

the officer doesn't like you.

[man] My strongest memory
of my mom

is she was very into teaching
and sharing.

We loved each other.

I would've put my own life
on the line

to try to save my mom's
had I known

anything like this
was going to happen.

And it was a day just
like any other day.

I went over
to my parents' house.

Normally, when I went over,
my mom would come out

on the front porch to greet me.

And that day,
she didn't come to the door.

I was able to see her
on the floor,

and she had been stabbed
and beaten and left for dead.

- [woman screams]
- And I was just freaking out.

[voices over telephone]

I was hysterical,
and I was yelling and screaming

at the paramedics to hurry up
and get her to the hospital

so that the doctors could
do something to save her life.

And the police choke-holded me
and handcuffed me

and put me in the car
for my own safety, ostensibly.

You call the authorities
when something goes wrong.

I mean, you call for help,

and you put
your full faith in them.

I was telling the police,
"I want to go to the hospital

to be with my mom,"
screaming, crying, you know?

And he said, "No, we have to go
to Van Nuys Police Department."

The detective interrogated
Bruce for two hours.

[Bruce] By the time he was done
interrogating me, she had died.

[softly] Fuck.

[sniffles, chuckles]

So what would you do?

Tell the cops whatever
they want to know?

- Demand they release you.
- Scream?

- Argue.
- Maybe even fight.

There are a number
of citizen watchdog groups...

Who observe and record
police misconduct.

Their advice
is to always be polite.

Never engage with an aggravated
or confrontational officer.

First of all,
you disrespected me,

this badge, and my department,
you understand me?!

When I'm talking to you,
you shut your mouth!

Ask, "Am I being detained,
or am I free to go?"

It's just it's unusual behavior,
is what we're getting at.

[man] I'm assuming
I'm being detained.

Am I being the detained
or not?

- You can go, sir.
- Thank you.

If you're not being detained,
leave immediately.

If you are being detained,

the police can legally lie
to you.

So, don't get into
any conversation

or start answering questions,
just ask for an attorney.

If you're arrested,
never talk to anybody

without an attorney there.

[Matthew] Susan Mellon
was 42 years old

in Gardena California
when she was accused

of a murder she didn't commit.

The detective
assigned to the case

was relying on the testimony
of one witness.

The whole case hinged
on the word of one person,

June Patty,
and everything June Patty said

was inconsistent
with every other lead.

Every single lead
put three gang members

in the house...
and no women.

[Susan] I was pleading
that I was innocent.

[woman's voice]

When I left my daughter there,
I just remember telling her

that, "Don't worry, baby,
I'll be back for dinner."

Susan's daughter, Jessica.

She said to me that she
was gonna be home for dinner,

and she was home
17 years later.

[Susan] Not seeing my children,
that was very hard on me.

For all those years,
I'm still broken.

My heart's still broken
from everything I went through.

It's-- I don't know,
it's just so scary.

It was the worst nightmare
of my whole life.

The bottom line is you have
a right to be silent.

Keep your mouth shut

because those words
will be used against you.

To survive and interrogation,

you've got to be ready
to stand your ground...

against bullying, aggression,
and intimidation.

No matter how intimidating
they get,

just say,
"I want to speak to a lawyer."

And I hope you can afford
a good one.

I didn't have
an adequate attorney.

It was a drive-by shooting that
took place in East Los Angeles.

I looked like
the actual shooter.

I "resembled"
was the correct word.

I served approximately
nine years

and eight months in prison.

[Matthew] If you don't have
an adequate attorney,

your entire future
rests in the hands

of a detective assigned
to your case.

The words of Bruce Lisker
were used against him.

And you're dealing
with a 17-year-old kid,

and they were able to manipulate
him and twist things.

My case was assigned
to a homicide detective

it was one of his first cases.

He hadn't even gone to homicide
school yet with the LAPD.

And he jumped the gun
and basically decided

that 'cause
I was a long-haired kid

who looked like he smoked pot,
which I did,

that I was the person
who had attacked my mother.

He must have had
all of his colleagues

scrutinizing him,
looking at him.

"How long is it gonna take you
to solve this one, Andy?"

And, well, he did it in minutes,
didn't he?

[Matthew] In 1994, Reggie Cole
was 18 years old

living in South Central LA
with no criminal record

when he was arrested for
the murder of Felipe Angeles.

The only eyewitness
was a man named John Jones,

the owner of a brothel
across the street

known as Johnny's
House of Prostitution.

How long has this place
been in operation?

- About 17 years.
- About 17 years?

The police were willing
to overlook

what John Jones was doing.

Then John Jones
would be willing to play along

with whatever the cops
wanted him to do.

16 years later,
a new theory would emerge

that the actual shooter was
more likely John Jones himself

firing from the rooftop
of his own building.

But the arresting officer
on the case

was sure the murderer
was Reggie Cole.

It was her first--
her first case,

and she needed to close
the case

in order for her to get
her shield, her homicide shield.

To be a doctor,

you have to go to school
for many years.

To be a lawyer, you have to go
to school for many years.

I don't understand how somebody
with just a high school diploma

or a GED can have
that type of power,

to be an officer of the law
with a pistol

that can take
someone's life, literally,

or with the charges
they put on you.

People, they don't--
they don't feel the need

to speak up because
it doesn't happen to them.

"Oh, that's-- that's messed up,
you know what I mean?

But it can never happen to me."
Yes, it could.

It could happen to you
just like that.

[Bruce] Every staff member,
everybody that I encountered

I was saying,
"A mistake has been made.

I didn't do anything,"

Begging for phone calls
to talk to my dad.

You know, from moment to moment,
the reality

that my mother's dead...

would just bring an icy chill.

First thing the next morning,
I was taken up front

to talk to a psychologist
or psychiatrist,

and in this cheery
kind of a voice,

he says, "So, how do you feel
about being here at Sylmar?"

And I said, you know,
"Are you kidding?"

[Susan] Since the LAPD
report stated

that Bruce stabbed his mother
to death,

the doctor determined
that Bruce must be psychotic.

Prison healthcare
is a disgrace.

I mean,
it's more like a horror show.

The medical conditions
inside of prisons in California

have been so bad for so long.

You're talking about

just barbaric conditions.

So a district court in 2002
said that an outside agency

had to come in
and take over

the entire medical system
in the prisons.

[Matthew] Today, after spending
billions of dollars,

some California prisons
still fail to meet even

the most basic constitutional
standards for healthcare.

If you have a serious
mental illness,

the United States of America

is probably the worst place
you want to be.

If you don't have the money
to pay for constant care,

you in danger
of facing law enforcement.

[voices over telephone]

If you're a schizophrenic
or a bipolar,

you are 16 times
more likely to die

when encountering
law enforcement.

[male reporter] A 5-foot-3,
100-pound teen fell

when he was stunned.

Two officers
then jumped on top of him,

and while they held him down,
the third officer,

who ordered the stun guns

then shot Keith in the chest
and killed him.

And if you don't die,

you're ten times more likely to
land in prison than a hospital.

The national
sheriff's association

got together with a treatment
advocacy center.

They looked into it.

It turns out, 50%--

50% of the people
who are locked up

have some kind
of mental health issue.

[man] We will not negotiate
with terrorists!

[Matthew] In the 1960s,
state psychiatric hospitals

began closing
and the nation's mentally ill

found themselves
on the streets,

often winding up in prison.

If you're mentally ill
and you're in prison,

you're more likely
to get worse,

experience increased
behavioral problems,

and you're going to be
disproportionately abused,

beaten, and raped.

You're more likely
to commit suicide.

And if you're released,
you're more likely

to reoffend
and come right back.

Most prison staff
are poorly equipped to diagnose,

or treat your condition.

And if you add that all up,
you know,

it makes me ask the question,
who are the crazy ones?


[man] I can't breathe!
I can't breathe!

And then I was medicated.

I was given Mellaril,
which is like Thorazine.

Numbed my brain.

I was a very docile inmate
at that point.

[Matthew] Warning,
side effects of Thorazine

may include sedation,
slurred speech,

dizziness, memory loss.

So the odds of fighting
your case may be difficult.

Hopefully, you have someone
on the outside

working on your behalf.

[Susan] Bruce was kept
in a single cell

23 hours a day
for the next 19 days.

[Matthew] Over their
two visits together,

Bruce and his father
were confident

they'd solve the murder.

[Bruce] I met Mike Ryan in
a 12-step program that I was in.

He didn't have a place to stay,

and I let him stay on the couch
in my apartment.

And he basically
stopped paying any rent.

You know, worked up my courage
and said, "You have to go.

You know, I have to
kick you out, man, sorry."

So, I started like taking
some of his stuff

off the shelves
and putting them into boxes.

And he grabbed me and put me
against the bathroom door jam

and held a knife to my throat
and said,

"If you ever touch
my shit again, I'll kill you."

And he was gone, and I thought,
whew, thank God, he's gone.

My mom told my dad
the day before the murder

that Mike Ryan had been there
that day looking for money,

looking for food,
looking for-- you know.

We know it in our hearts,
my dad and I,

Mike Ryan killed my mom.

This is-- this is the letter
Lisker writes to Monsue

after he's arrested.

He's behind bars,
and he goes, "Dear sir,

I'm sure that by this point,
it has become apparent to you

that I am not the murderer."

And this is where
he turns him on to Ryan

as a potential suspect.

When Monsue went to find Ryan
to interview him,

he tracks him down in a jail
in Mississippi

where I think he was arrested

for breaking
into a woman's house.

His story was so full of holes,
I mean,

you could have driven
a truck through it.

He said that he was sleeping
on the streets.

He was sleeping in carports
until March 10th,

when he checked
into a Hollywood motel,

which is 12 miles away from
our house at around 11:00 AM.

at 3:00 PM on March 10th,

four hours after my mom
was killed and robbed,

he has money to check
into a motel.

I don't think that Monsue
was out to get Lisker.

I think that he developed what
detectives call tunnel vision.

I had heard a lot of things
about him being narrow-minded.

Once he made his mind up,

there was no way of--
of making him change his mind.

And so, that-- that leads
to some serious problems

when you're dealing
with a homicide investigation.

[Matthew] Detective Monsue
did a search

on Mike Ryan's criminal record,

apparently using
the wrong birth date.

He had the wrong date
of birth for him,

and if he had the right date
of birth

and he checked
criminal records back then,

he would've found
that just a few months prior

to the Dorka Lisker slaying,

Ryan had allegedly held a knife
to a friend's throat over $12,

which you would think
would cause, you know,

a detective to consider him
a little more seriously,

you know, for the offense
he was investigating.

Eventually, like Bruce,

you're gonna have
a detention hearing.

During which time a judge
is going to make a determination

as to whether you're going to
stay in jail

or you can be released
while you await your trial.

Well, unless you have
a lot of money for attorneys,

you're not going anywhere.

Basically, you go in there
with your hands

tied behind your back
because of the power

that we give to police officers
in this nation.

His word carried the day.

The Constitution is supposed
to guarantee

a speedy trial
and prohibit the use

of cruel and unusual punishment.

Myself, I spent 15 months
before trial

in the county jail
in deplorable conditions.

I was in numerous riots,

various situations
where I had to defend myself.

I made a new word.
It's called I was petrinoid.

I was petrified
and paranoid at the same time.

Surviving County jail.

The first thing that you're
going to want to do is get out.

So whatever you have to do
to get the money, it's worth it.

You definitely don't want
to be going to trial

in a jumpsuit or in cuffs.

[Matthew] A study of defendants
in Kentucky found

that individuals in jail
were over three times

more likely to be sentenced
to prison

than those who were released
and showed up for court

in regular clothes.

If you're stuck in jail,

be prepared to be completely
humiliated and violated.

You are going to be stripped
of all your personal possessions

and your clothing.

Your integrity,
your respect, everything.

Keep to yourself.
Be polite and ask permission...

- To use the water fountain.
- The bathroom.

- The lights.
- The sink.

That's it right there.

Mind your own business
and be respectful.

Never call the guards

if you got a problem
with somebody.

Just talk to the person

that you have a problem with
directly or let it go.

You're gonna want to make a lot
of phone calls to your family.

- To get advice.
- Find a lawyer.

- To talk to a friend.
- To find out how to get out.

As quickly as possible.

They can charge
over a dollar a minute.

Calls to and from your lawyer,

your son, daughter,
your mom, or your dad.

I wouldn't want to do any time
in the county jail at all.

It's not bearable
because they don't treat you

with any type of respect.

Like, you're supposed to be
innocent until proven guilty.

Okay, well, this is a place
where it should show that.

"Innocent until proven guilty"
originally meant...

[Matthew] Nobody should
ever be denied a trial.

And it was created
as a protection...

Against torturing people
into confessions.

It was established
as a shield...

Against mob mentality
and witch hunts.

And this presumption of
innocence until proven guilty

is a foundational notion
of civil justice.

The problem is,
is that it's

a difficult principle
to preserve.

You have to be vigilant
about preserving it.

David Sirota's an investigative
journalist who's done

extensive work in America's
criminal justice system.

Our media culture,
where the camera is on,

you've got Court TV...

On the murder count,
he is going to walk.

[crowd] No justice!
No peace!

People want to see retribution.

They want to see
somebody punished.

Who in the heck
is in that jury room?

You've got politicians
running around.

Just stoking the flames.

When folks mess with Americans,
we go after them.

- People want revenge.
- And it's reminiscent

of medieval times,
people screaming for blood.

And our present culture
doesn't seem to value

the concept of innocent
until proven guilty.

And so, unless you're vigilant
about preserving

a presumption of innocence,

then you're going to lose
that presumption of innocence.

Kalief Browder was a teenager.

He was walking home
from school

when someone accused him
of stealing a backpack.

The police didn't do
any investigating.

They just arrested him.

And the next thing you know,
they putting the cuffs.

I don't even know this dude.

His family couldn't afford
the $10,000 bail.

Kalief was subjected
to officer assaults,

which you can see here,

and groups of inmates
attacking him.

They was just all bawling
on my head to the point

where I just had to just grab
my head, like, I can't take it.

[female reporter]
He missed his sister's wedding,

the birth of his nephew,
and so many family events.

[Matthew] After nearly three
years of unimaginable torture,

incarcerated without a trial,
he was finally offered a deal.

If he would plead guilty,
they'd let him go.

She told me if I lose trial,
I could get 15 years.

Take the time served,

and you go home today
if you say you did it.

I didn't do it.
I'm not saying I did that.

He went back to jail.

In June, he was suddenly freed
with no explanation.

No apology, no nothing.

They just said,
"Oh, case dismissed.

Don't worry about nothing."
What do you mean?

Y'all just took over
three years of my life.

The New Yorker reported
that Kalief's relatives

said he was inflicted
by paranoia, suspecting cops

or other authority figures
were after him.

Two years after he was released
from Riker's Island,

Kalief Browder
took his own life.

The eighth amendment
to the US Constitution

is also supposed to guarantee
us the right

to be free
from excessive bail.

Bail is money
that you temporarily loan

or give the courts
as collateral to guarantee

that you're going to show up
for your trial.

But like the rest
of the eighth amendment,

this idea that you're supposed
to be free from excessive bail

is a right
that's regularly violated

by our criminal justice system.

the bail bond industry

is making profits
of $2 billion a year.

What we would need
is at least for you

to be employed two years
on the job.

What you do need to pay
is going to be 10%.

After 30 days in custody,

Bruce finally had
the opportunity to post bail.

Bail was set at $250,000.

Neither Bruce
or his father had the money.

I was scared shitless.
I was so frightened.

The whole way down,
I just thought, this is--

you know, I keep using the word

but I mean, this could be
the end of my life.

I don't know.
I don't know.

The most important thing
that I can tell you

is to protect yourself.

Don't talk to people.

If you're running off
at the mouth,

you're usually going to dig
yourself a hole.

If you want to survive
in jail or prison,

take the advice of old-timers.

[Matthew] This is Tim.

He's going to elaborate

on the most important
rule of all.

[man] I want you
to pay attention!

In 1986,
Tim was 19 years old.

He got involved with a girl
who was in some trouble.

She's living with this guy.

She starts insinuating that
she's being sexually abused.

But like a dummy,

I'm contemplating going
and getting her stuff.

She says that he's got a gun so,
you know, we got to be careful.

The guy that we're going with,
he's like, "Well, that's cool.

We'll just take our own guns."

They start wrestling
over this gun.

I step out of the bathroom.
Fight or flight.

No excuses.
Just dumb.

This is-- there's no excuse
for what I did.

There's no excuse.
Pulled out my gun.

I start shooting.
He falls behind the door.

I pull Rob out of the door,
kick the door,

and I shoot him again
in the head

and was sentenced
to 25 years to life

in the California prison system.

Tim's first advice
to new fish is simple.

Start with, you got two eyes
and two ears and one mouth.

So you should be seeing
and hearing

a whole lot more
than you're saying.

If you don't take that advice,

you're usually going to dig
yourself a hole

because while you're talking,

how many other people
are listening and watching?

Keep it zipped up,
and don't think

that any of those dudes
are your friends.

I was put in a cell alone

when I started hearing
this scraping sound.

It gets louder and louder,
and it persists and finally,

there's a hole in the wall now.

And I'm like,
"Leave me alone."

"Hey, youngster,
you know, what's up?

My name's Bobby."
He said, "I'm a Christian.

You don't have
to worry about me, I'm okay.

Want a cigarette?
Do you smoke?"

And he wants
to Bible study with me.

And he was, you know,
reading the Bible

about hope and about,
you know, truth.

I had told him

that I was arrested for.

"What's your attorney
doing for you?"

I said, "Well, not much.

I'm sitting here still,
you know?"

He goes well,
"I'll help you with your case.

Anything that I can do,"
and, you know, by the way,

do you have any money
that I could--

you know, I don't have
any money and, you know,

if you can help me out
with some money."

My dad put money
on his books for him,

and my attorney comes down
and has a tape recorder

and pushes play,
and it's Robert Hughes

on the tape saying I met Lisker
in the 7000 module

of the county jail and,
you know,

he ran down
how he killed his mom.

My jaw is just on the table.
I can't believe it.

This was my friend,
this Robert Hughes,

this Christian,
this good guy.

My case was the fourth case,
fourth defendant

against whom Robert Hughes
had come forward and claimed

a confession in the span
of about a year and a half.

[Matt] I think for about
a decade,

prosecutors had
this corrupt alliance

with jailhouse informants
who would either make up

or try to solicit confessions
from fellow inmates

and then use that information
to try to get

some leniency on their own case,
their own sentence.

There was a shift in my attorney
with the tape of Robert Hughes.

He gave up on me.
I saw it in his eyes.

I saw it in his eyes.

[Susan] Bruce had been
incarcerated now for a year.

As long as it's been,
which was incomprehensible to me

that anybody could spend a day,
let alone close to a year

behind bars for something
they didn't do,

now I have another year to wait
potentially until my trial.

One of the times that I came
back up front, juvenile hall,

when they were receiving me,
said, wait a minute,

the date of birth here,
this guy's over 18.

He can't associate
with other minors.

Because Bruce is now an adult,
they put Bruce in the box,

which means
solitary confinement.

The statewide prisoner
hunger strike began 11 days ago

as a protest over solitary
confinement conditions.

And now more than 2,300 inmates
are refusing to eat.

Solitary confinement
is a prison within a prison.

You're locked in a 6-by-9 cell.

Everything is made of concrete,
even the bed.

You're locked in there
23 hours a day,

one hour out for recreation.

You can be put into solitary
confinement for anything.

You know, prison guard might
just get pissed off at you.

[Matthew] Shane Bauer
is an American who was arrested

in Iran for accidentally
hiking across their border.

They put him
in solitary confinement.

I would definitely say
that the situation

in California is more extreme.

The cells in California
are smaller

than the cell
I was in in Iran.

There's no windows
in the cells in California.

The hole is considered torture

by Amnesty International
and the United Nations.

This is Anthony Graves.

He's an innocent man
who was wrongfully convicted

and spent 16 years in solitary.

No one can begin to imagine
the psychological effects

isolation has
on another human being.

95% of Americans
who spent time in solitary

report developing
a serious psychiatric condition.

Guys become paranoid,

and can't sleep because
they're hearing voices.

You're more than five times
more likely to commit suicide.

I was there when guys
were attempting suicide

by cutting themselves,
trying to tie a sheet

around their necks,
overdosing on their medication.

In Iran I know of nobody
being in solitary confinement

for more than two years,

which is an extremely long
period of time.

But in California
and Pelican Bay State prison,

the average time
is seven and a half years.

For two years, Bruce had been
waiting for his trial.

He'd gone over it in his head
day after day

what the judge would say,
what a jury would think.

When they heard
the transcript

of Detective Monsue's
interrogation of Mike Ryan,

that's all they'd need to hear.

All the lies,
all the inconsistencies,

there would be no way
he wouldn't be found innocent.

Except the prosecutor
filed a motion to deny Bruce

the right to make any mention

of Mike Ryan's name
at the trial.

On the grounds that we couldn't
tie Mike Ryan to the crime.

The judge turns to my attorney,

"What evidence do you have
that Mike Ryan is tied to this?"

He says, "He was in the county.
He could have done it."

And the judge goes,
"Is that all you have?"

Because he didn't take the time
to read the transcript.

He was just on autopilot.

He was not paying attention.
He wasn't engaged.

He says, "Yeah,
that's it, that's all I have."

We couldn't tie Mike Ryan
to the crime.

That was the framework
for my trial.

It is an absolute joke
the resources

prosecutors have
versus defense attorneys.

[Matthew] Justin Brooks
is the director

of the California Innocence

a nonprofit group dedicated
to helping

wrongfully convicted Americans
get out of prison.

Prosecutors have a police force
at their disposal

as their investigators.

They're-- they get the case
from the first moment

it's being investigated.

They have access
to all the people

who are involved in that.

Defense comes late to the date.
We are at a total disadvantage.

The sixth amendment
to the U.S. Constitution

is supposed to guarantee
the right to effective counsel.

But as we're seeing in America,
you have to buy your rights.

You're more likely to walk free
if you're rich and guilty

then you are if you're poor
and innocent.

The evidence is Detective Monsue
telling his lies,

Robert Hughes telling his lies,
and no alternate suspect.

And so I'm screwed.

They're charging me
with first-degree murder,

which carries 26 years to life
in state prison.

It's longer
than I'd been alive.

A day and a half in,
my attorney comes to me

in the holding tank and says,

"The judge is willing
to entertain a guilty plea

in exchange for
a youth authority sentence."

I talk with my dad, I said,
"Guilty plea, what--

you know, I'm not going to take
a guilty plea."

And he said, "I-- I hear you."

And a close friend of my--
of the family,

my father's best friend,
comes to the juvenile hall

and says, "You have to--
you have to accept this plea."

I said, "No, I'm not going to
accept anything.

I didn't do anything.
I'm not gonna you know--"

And he says, "Look,"
and he pounds his hand down

on the bench
that we're sitting on,

and he goes, "They are going
to convict you

of first fucking degree murder
unless you plead guilty."

And he's practically crying,
as am I right now.

He goes, "Look, do whatever
you have to do to get home."

You are the law.

The defendant is not guilty.

No man is above the law.

What we see on most TV shows
is not reality.

Our justice system
isn't what you think it is.

Rolling Stone magazine

considers Wayne Kramer
of The MC5

one of the top 100 greatest
guitarists of all time.

He battled drug addiction
and in 1975,

went to prison for two years
for selling cocaine.

He's since provided guitars
and taught music

to inmates at over 50
correctional institutions

throughout the United States.

People think that,
you know,

you have a right to a trial
and everybody goes to trial

and there's the good prosecutor
and the defense attorney,

and they battle it out.

That ain't the way it works.

The way it works
is the prosecutors

stack up the charges on you
and force you to plead guilty

to a lesser charge to keep
from doing life

or double life or triple life.

People don't get trials.
What they get is a deal.

People suggest that anywhere
between, you know,

three or 10 and 15%
of people behind bars

could be innocent of the crimes
of which they were charged.

Michelle Alexander
is a civil rights lawyer,

Stanford law professor and
the author of The New Jim Crow,

one of the most highly
acclaimed studies

of America's
criminal justice system.

The reality is, is that
thousands of people

every year
in the United States

wind up pleading guilty
to crimes

they may not have committed

because they are
either railroaded

by police officers who give them
false information

or coerce confessions
or because they were afraid

of facing, you know, harsh
mandatory minimum sentences

and believe that, you know,
their best chance

is to just take a plea.

You're an average Joe.

You don't know anything about,

the prison,
the politics in county jail.

You don't know anything.

So they put you there
with these people,

and this is how they force you
to take deals, you know.

You're around people that you
see on the news that are,

"Oh, those are horrible people,
and the same guy

you just saw on the news
is your bunkie.

Of course
you're gonna take a deal.

Get me away from these people.
This is the system.

This is what they do to you.

They understand that
if we put this guy in here,

if you did it or not,
it doesn't even matter

because you're looking
at the end result.

I can't take another fucking day
in this place.

Whatever you say, I'll do.
So just let me out.

Once you're arrested
and charged with a crime,

understand you will be taking
a plea bargain

nine out of 10 times.

You have to.
The system is against you.

The US justice system isn't
like any justice system

in the world,
a system where 95% of the cases

are resolved by plea bargain.

You know,
it's no longer a trial system.

It's a plea bargain system.

If the enormous percentage
of defendants

who plead guilty
suddenly one day said,

"We're not pleading guilty,"

the system
would grind to a halt.

The court system
does not have the capacity

for the current number
of defendants

that are passing through it.

The whole purpose
of plea bargains

from the perspective
of a prosecutor

raises his conviction rate.

So prosecutors
typically have

in the high-90 percentile
conviction rates,

including those plea bargains
because of course,

from a legal standpoint,
we know that nobody

would ever plead guilty
to something they didn't do.

And so, we agreed
that I would plead guilty

in exchange for
a youth authority sentence.

We went back into trial,
we entered the plea,

and I went down
for a 90-day observation

at the youth authority
in Norwalk.

The challenge is
if you're innocent

and you plead guilty,
you better be a good liar.

You go down there,
you talk to psychologists,

and they ask you,
"So, did you do it?"

Well, you have to say yes

because it has to be
consistent with everything.

"Well, how'd you do it?"

I didn't have adequate answers
for these questions.

So, they didn't buy it,
in a sense.

And, you know, rightly so.

And they sent a report
that was dispositive,

a negative report
back to the judge.

And he said, "I didn't realize
that youth authority

wouldn't be able to help you,
and so I'll allow you

to take back your guilty plea
and go ahead with trial.

Or I'll sentence you
to state prison right now."

So that began
another period of waiting.

[Susan] It would be well
over a year

before Bruce would get
another trial date.

23 hours a day in a cell
in isolation,

no contact with other juveniles,
only counselors,

one hour out for recreation.

And while they might not be
able to introduce

an alternate suspect,
Bruce demanded his lawyer

knock down every argument
the prosecution could make.

The prosecutor said Bruce could
not have seen his mother's body

through the back window
of the house.

The sun's reflection
in the glass

and the furniture
would've blocked his view.

His defense
was the crime scene pictures

were taken
on a much sunnier day.

The prosecution claimed
all the bloody footprints

in the house
matched Bruce's shoes.

Bruce's defense said
his fingerprints

were not found anywhere
in the crime scene.

There was no evidence
that he wiped anything down

or made any attempt
to cover his tracks

because Bruce
had nothing to hide.

The prosecution
called Robert Hughes,

who claimed Bruce confessed
in the 7000 module

of county jail,
and the defense compared

Robert Hughes
to a used car salesman

who wasn't to be trusted.

Then, one day, they rapped
their keys on the door

and they said,
"Lisker, it's a verdict."

And my dad was there.

He was there
just every court day,

and he was right there
in the front row,

and we were just, you know--
eye contact,

but you can't really talk
because you're not allowed to--

it's not a visit, you know,

you're not allowed to visit
with your--

But he was-- he was there,
and the jury comes in

one by one, you know,
excruciatingly slow,

sits down,
and the judge speaks.

"Have you reached a verdict?"
"Yes, we have.

In the matter of
People vs. Bruce Lisker,

we the jury find
the defendant..."

and they said "guilty."

And it was just--

the bottom literally fell out
of my world.

That's it.
It's over, isn't it?

It's my life.

When you've been
falsely accused,

your only hope
is for your attorney

to directly challenge
the veracity of the police.

My attorney seemed unwilling
to go that far.

He never outright said,
"Isn't it true

that you're just lying
about all of this?

Here's the investigatory work
that I did

that proves
that you're just a liar."

And he never did that.

[Matthew] And this
is part of a larger problem

that David Sirota
calls the authority bias.

Authority bias meaning
the government, an institution

says somebody did something,
and they must've done it.

And what's strange about it
is that this is a country

that in one way
the American zeitgeist is,

"I don't trust-- the government
can't do anything right.

I don't trust anything
the government says."

And yet at another level,
at the very same time

that that's the dominant
rhetorical paradigm

in our politics,
there is this authority bias

where, when the government
accuses somebody of a crime

or says somebody's a wrongdoer,
reflexively, millions

and millions of Americans
think it must be true.

- Am I free to go?
- No, you're not.

Your freedom is secondary.

You're not allowed
to be holding me.

Would you like to be placed
under arrest?

You're not allowed
to arrest me.

In the 1960s, Yale University
psychologist Stanley Milgram

ran an experiment to see how
often human beings

would obey an authority figure
and follow orders,

even if doing so
ran completely against

their personal code
of morality.

How is it possible,
I asked myself,

that ordinary people
who are courteous and decent

in everyday life
can act callously, inhumanely,

without any limitations
of conscious?

450 volts.

In Milgram's experiment,
participants were told

by a scientist in uniform
to electrocute a subject

for each wrong answer on a test
at ever increasing voltages.

Are you all right?

Please continue, teacher.

- Do I keep giving him shocks?
- Continue.

- I'm up to 390.
- Continue, please.

[buzzer buzzes]

The participants had no idea
the subjects were just actors.

And although many protested,

found a strong majority,

over 65% of participants
would shock the subject

to the point of killing them

if instructed
by an authority figure.

- 330 volts.
- [lever clicks]

[man screams]

Let me out of here!
Let me out of here!

My heart's bothering me!
Let me out, I tell you!

Let me out of here!

You have no right
to hold me here!

Let me out! Let me out!
Let me out!

Milgram concluded
that very few people

have the psychological capacity
to resist authority.

[man] The way we have
the system set up,

the policeman's uniform,
gun at their side, the badge,

they're treated with the same
deference as our military.

It's like they're infallible.

With judges, we drape them
in robes like priests

and literally put them up
on a pedestal.

The system hierarchy,
which has almost

no real checks and balances,
no accountability--

Or transparency, is so deeply
entrenched in our culture--

Most people would never
even think to question it.

We never see how flawed it is.

How do we resist
the natural instinct to obey?

Don't blindly trust
authority figures.

If you're given an order
that feels questionable,

check your conscience.

The time to argue
with a police officer

is not the side of the road.

Pick your battles wisely.

If you can challenge authority

without risking more
than you're willing to lose

and something feels wrong,
don't obey.

Don't obey
even the smallest commands

if you feel that they're wrong.

The more that we accept
and obey, the more we become

- blind followers.
- And now you're under control.

[Matthew] In a world
which is absolutely insane.

To free ourselves
from this authoritarian system

in which
we've now found ourselves

is going to take
a massive effort.

And if you're afraid, I get it.
Find an ally.

Milgram's experiment told us

there's is great
psychological power

against authoritarianism
in groups.

Unfortunately, these techniques
are not taught in school.

And so if you're innocent
and you find yourself in prison,

it's hard to have
any hope at all.

[Susan] A year later,
Mike Ryan robbed

another woman at knife point

and was sentenced
to six years for armed robbery.

But other than Bruce
and his father,

nobody had connected Mike Ryan
to the murder

besides other inmates
like Jeff Deskovic,

another wrongfully convicted
man trying to prove

his innocence and losing hope.

I remember reading
about Bruce Lisker's case

in the magazine
Justice Denied.

They allow people who allege

that they've been
wrongfully convicted

who have a plausible story
to write about their case

with the hope that more
public attention will come.

When I read about Bruce's case,
it was reaffirming to me

that I was on the right path

because even though
he hadn't been exonerated,

he was still looking for help,
he hadn't given up.

[Matthew] You can't give up,
no matter how long it takes.

And it could take a long time.

One of the biggest factors
in why the US

has the largest prison
population in the world

is the length
of our prison sentences.

The average sentence
for burglary in Canada

and in England
is around six months.

In the US,
it's around a year and a half.

In other developed countries,
a drug offense might land you

a year,
year and a half in jail.

In the US,
it's five to ten years or more.

If you're a black man
in America,

your sentence
will be 20% longer

than if you're a white man
for the exact same crime.

The federal law still
holds marijuana

as equal to heroin,
which is unfathomable.

These bullshit laws
that are old

and prehistoric
needs to be changed.

I met a woman that
had a first offense,

nothing more than $5 worth
of crack cocaine

and was sentenced to jail
in 1979

and didn't come home
until 2014.

And she said to me,

"I don't know how
to use no phone.

I don't know how to send a text.
I don't know how to email."

I'm sorry.

High incarceration rates

and longer than necessary
prison terms

have not played
a significant role

in materially improving
public safety,

reducing crime,
or strengthening communities.

In fact,
the opposite is often true.

And as it turns out,

we've known this
for a long time.

In the 1970s,
criminologists had developed

this consensus that, you know,
prisons just didn't work.

But this consensus
was interrupted

by a political movement,
racial anxiety,

racial resentment, and also
to capitalize on, you know,

growing public fear as crime
rates were beginning to rise.

And, you know,
as politicians found

that this get-tough rhetoric,
you know, sold well

to the public,
all of the research and studies

that suggested that prisons
didn't work

were shoved lightly
to the side,

and we went on
a prison-building boom

unlike anything the world
had ever seen before.

And this was compounded
by the war on drugs.

The drug war was born

with a particular group
of people in mind as the enemy.

We must wage what I have called
total war

against public enemy number one,
the problem of dangerous drugs.

Poor people, particularly,
black people

were defined as the enemy
in the war on drugs.

They were defined
that way politically

but also through media imagery.

[male reporter] The nation's
crack cocaine epidemic

is taking
a new and dangerous turn.

[Wayne] White people,
brown people, and black people

all use drugs
and sell drugs at the same rate.

But if we look at who's serving
time in America's prisons--

[Matthew] The law enforcement

is deployed disproportionately
against people of color.

Oh, look at that.

And the war on drugs also bears
a major responsibility

for racial bias
in our prison system

as African-Americans
are arrested for drug offenses

at 10 times the rate of whites
and serve longer sentences.

Although people of color make
up only 30% of our populations,

they make up 60% of our prisons.

By the most
conservative estimates,

if we keep going
the way we're going,

one in four black men born today
will go to jail

at some point in their lifetime.

An estimated 5.3
million Americans are denied

the right to vote based
on a past felony conviction.

And that impacts men of color
more than anyone else.

This has got to change.

You know, with any war,
there is some collateral damage,

and although white people
may not have been

the original targets,
they may not have been

the inspiration for the war,

many white people,
particularly poor

and working-class white folks,
have found themselves swept in.

I'm very patriotic.
Love my country.

Not real happy
with my government,

but I love my country.

Paul Rickett
is a US Army veteran

who served in the Gulf War.

I was out like about three weeks
when I got busted for LSD.

I never sold acid.
I never made a dime off of acid.

I took acid on the weekends.

I reimbursed my buddy
for what he paid for it

so that he wasn't giving it
to me for free.

If you want to call
that trafficking,

then I guess I'm a trafficker,
But it was personal use.

We would just fry
and play Frisbee

and listen to rock 'n' roll.

Drug offenses
are another major reason

for America's overflowing
prison population.

The US locks up more people
for drugs

than any other country
on the planet.

There are over
half a million Americans

locked up for drugs
on any given day,

and Paul was one of them.

He was facing a lot of time.

[Paul] Facing 10-year
mandatory minimum.

Then they offered him a deal.

For not forcing the government
to go through

the time and expense of trial.

All he had to do
was plead guilty.

And after some painful
consideration, I took it.

And after all those years
in prison,

one thing bothered Paul
the most.

You know, here we are
in this modern society

where we're a melting pot

and everybody's
getting along for the most part.

And then in prison,
you know,

it's completely the opposite,
you know.

As soon as you get in there,

if you weren't a racist
when you went in,

they require you to be one
as soon as you get in.

Every single jail
and prison in America,

every one I've ever been to,
it's all divided up by race.

Everything's segregated
in there.

You have the white phone,
and you have the Mexican phone,

and you have the black phone,
and you have the Asian phone.

It seems the racism that
helped spark the explosion

of America's prison system

still burns like a raging fire
within its walls

shamefully hidden
from the public eye.

[Bruce] It was a very strict
code of,

depending on your race,
this is what we do.

Even the prison guards
promote this.

Some people theorize
that it's a way for the guards

to keep control over us
because if we all got along,

then who would really
be running the prison?

Us or the guards?

There's one guard
for every 100 guys.

Prison society
is further divided

from race into gangs.

So it helps
to either be in one

or be from
the right neighborhood.

On my ride to prison,
the guy that was next to me,

he was just a regular dude
from Long Beach.

He played basketball
at Poly high school.

He was a regular dude.
He had a flat top.

You know what I mean,
and, you know,

he was going to prison for--
he had took a deal for--

I believe
it was like spousal abuse.

Him and his girl--
it was a terrorist threat.

In the United States,
a terrorist threat

covers any statement
that contains

the threat of violence
against another person.

In this case, Reggie is talking
about an argument a man

was having with his girlfriend
where he threatened her.

He told her he was gonna
beat her ass

or whatever it was,
it was a terrorist threat.

There was no physical violence
or anything,

but he took a deal
for 18 months,

and he was only supposed
to do like eight months.

You take a deal for 18 months,
you're gonna do five or 10.

So he fell for the bullshit.

The first night we got there,

they ask who's
from South Central.

I'm from South Central.
Where you from?

Explain to them where I'm from.
Your homeboys are over here.

They're gonna direct you
where you're supposed to go.

This guy,
he didn't have anybody.

He was just from Long Beach,
you know?

He just was a regular dude,
you know?

And that night I'm on my bunk,

and I'm listening
to what's going on and I'm--

at first,
I thought they were playing

because that's what
it started off

was this is the whole gimmick.

Everything is a ploy
to lead to something else.

That's why they
tell you don't let anybody

touch you in jail,
and he didn't know this.

He didn't understand
that you're not supposed

to wrestle with somebody
in the cell

because this is what
they're doing,

trying to see if they can get
you in a vulnerable position

I'm on my bunk,
and I'm listening to it,

and I'm thinking, damn,
ain't somebody

gonna come help this dude?

I mean, and they didn't.

That night in his cell,
they raped him.

[Matthew] According
to the Department of Justice,

nearly one in 10 prisoners
suffer sexual abuse

while in American jails
and prisons.

A quarter of those
also reported serious injury

like chipped or lost teeth,
being knocked unconscious,

broken bones, or worse.

So let's keep that in mind
the next time a talk show host,

a government official,
or anybody

makes a joke about prison rape.

The fact that we find
these jokes acceptable

shows just how far we've gone
in normalizing rape

as a just punishment
for any offense.

As long as we keep imagining
that people in prison

are subhuman,
that they're predatory

and incorrigible
and nothing like you and me,

why would we lose any sleep
about what their lives are like

or what's happening to them?

There are now over 5,000 jails

and prisons
in the United States,

more than we have colleges
and universities.

In many parts of America,
particularly the South,

there are more people
living in prisons

then on college campuses

and a multi-billion-dollar
business has emerged.

Brace yourself.

This is going to sound
too barbaric to be real,

like medieval times,
a science-fiction horror film,

or a French
historical musical.

The 13th amendment
of the Constitution

outlawed slavery,
but it still allows

for forced labor
if you're in prison.

Today, there are roughly
1 million American prisoners

working for corporations
and in government industries.

There is no minimum wage,

so you could make as little
as a few cents an hour.

Bruce worked
in the kitchen for years

then in clerical jobs making
a maximum of 32 cents an hour.

It sounds like another time
or a Coen Brothers movie

but it's happening right now.

There are no benefits,
no organizing, and no strikes.

And if you refuse to work,
you can get put in the hole.

This is big business for state
and for-profit prisons

who sell inmate labor
to Fortune 500's like Chevron,

Bank of America, AT&T,
and the US military.

Nearly half the population
in prison

make military uniforms,
body armor, helmets,

and provide labor
as subcontractors

for Fortune 500s.

They make office furniture,
man call centers,

take hotel reservations,
work in slaughterhouses.

or manufacture textiles, shoes,
and clothing for pennies.

Prison labor
is part of why some state

and private prisons yield
a multibillion-dollar profit.

Not only are prisoners
used to make products,

prisoners themselves
are sold as products.

Since the 1980s,

the prison population
has boomed.

Now, 150 private prisons
are paid billions

by state governments
to house prisoners.

Private prisons do so well,
some of their biggest investors

are banks like Wells Fargo
or Bank of America.

Many private prisons demand
90 or even 100% occupancy,

meaning the taxpayer
foots the bill for every bed,

even the fucking empty ones.

For-profit prisons
are incentivized

to incarcerate more people
and for longer periods of time

to fill their quotas,
and to make sure that happens,

they spend millions pushing
tough-on-crime bills.

Today, nearly 10%
of America's prisoners

are held in private prisons.

They also spend millions
influencing immigration law.

Half of detained immigrants
are held in private prisons

for indefinite periods of time,
often years,

exposed to brutal conditions.

and because
they're not Americans,

the government
gives them no right

to even the most basic legal
representation or medical care.

The prisons
are private companies.

Why would they want
to decrease violence, okay?

Why would they want to improve

the quality of life
of these people?

And then we call it justice,

It's blood money.
It's bad karma.

It's going to come back
and haunt us

to the point of extinction.

[male reporter]
Three housing facilities
were set on fire.

It apparently all started
over inmate frustration

over the quality
of medical care.

Perhaps needless to say,

being treated like chattel

and used as forced labor
for pennies an hour

is not that popular
on the inside,

but that's not the worst of it.

The socks
they issue you are used.

The underwear
they issue you is used.

You gotta buy things
like shaving equipment

and food and sweats and socks,
underwear, T-shirts.

The canteen, or commissary,
is more expensive

than any convenience store
on the outside.

It's definitely advisable
to have money

so that you can get started.

If you don't have 50
to 100 bucks

coming into your books
or your account every month,

then you're gonna need a hustle.

This is Philip.
He was convicted of robbery.

As crooked as we are out here,

we're as crooked
inside there, too.

Whether it's drugs,
whether it's alcohol.

You got people
that they don't drink,

but they manufacture
prune-o all day.

In San Quentin

in the boiler room,
they found a still.

Friends that I knew
had actually gotten so far

as to, like,
get the copper tubing

from industries over,
and so we had copper tubing.

[Phillip] They were making
moonshine in San Quentin.

[Bruce] Mainly they drank it.

Did I have a hustle?
Sold drugs.

Through our visits
through a correctional officer.

Prison is like a networking
college for criminals.

[Phillip] The majority
of the guys in prison are there

trying to learn
how to do crime better.

This is just kind of a school

for criminals
to learn more to be criminals.

And that's not an exaggeration.

A 2011 study
from Ohio University

showed that after
spending time in prison,

those continuing to engage
in crime

see their criminal earnings

on an average
by $11,000 a year.

Jody Lewen
is the executive director

of the Prison University

There are thousands
and thousands of people

in the system.

All they want
is the opportunity

to get a good education
and to be hired by somebody

where they can have a job
where they have meaningful work

and a livable wage.

In the late '80s, early '90s.

there were probably 350 programs
in the prison system nationwide.

[Bruce] I took my dad's advice,
he'd been saying

for a long time, "Look
for some computer training.

Is there any computer training
in there?"

Because he knows, you know?

when I get to San Quentin,

I said, "Do you have
any computer training?"

It was great because I mean,

those who know the least
obey the best, you know?

And there's this rebellious
kind of a spirit in there.

They have you under their thumb
up and to the point

of being able to put a bullet
in your head if they wanted to.

Stand still and be quiet.
Face that wall right now.

So there's this rebelliousness.
I could exercise my brain.

They can't stop me
from doing that.

And so we really got this pride
about our education,

particularly in
that computer programming class,

and it was an honor
to be able to fight the system,

as you might say,
by educating each other.

And then seeing me graduate
that eight years later,

my dad was really proud of me.

And our relationship
just blossomed,

just became
so deep and so meaningful.

My dad was everything to me.

And it was just about two weeks
after I graduated

that he died.


* Oh, let us stay

* Stay true

* May we love and listen

* And hear our hearts sing

* And keep on giving

* And may we stay true,
let us stay... *

When I sign this crime bill,
we together

are taking a big step toward
bringing the laws of our land

back into line
with the values of our people.

In 1994, Congress passed
the Violent Crime Control

and Law Enforcement Act,
which, among many other things,

barred people in prison
from receiving Pell grants.

Most of those programs folded
almost overnight.

To be realistic, I mean,
unless you're getting

a college education in here,

it's probably not gonna
help you too much.

But if they have skills
such as welding--

welding, on this yard
is just phenomenal.

We've seen guys go through
the welding program,

and they're making 30, $40
an hour out there on the streets

and they're writing letters back
to the instructor over here.

Those are the things
that these guys need.

They need jobs
so they won't be robbing,

stealing, turning to the dope,
you know,

doing the drugs
and that type of thing.

So, that's--
that's what I would change.

Critical reason number one
why people

are ending up in prison
is for lack of, really,

quality educational

Since 1970,
in the state of California,

we've built 22 prisons
and one university.

We literally have more faith
in punishing people

and controlling them violently
than teaching them.

Let's imagine a parent
who raised a child like that.

What would we say about them?
What would we think of them?

We'd think of them as the most
unfit parent imaginable.

we might even call the police.


[Bruce] By not having
an education,

by not having programs,

by not having positive things
for the guys to do.

It's really about terror
and intimidation

and people basically
fighting for survival

and often committing
extraordinary violence

in order to protect themselves
or to stay safe.

[Tim] It's kind of like
the weak dog in the pack.

If others spot weakness,
they're gonna pounce on you

for a couple of reasons.

You pounce on that guy,

that gives you
a little more status.

So, I had to ask myself,
are you gonna be a victim?

No, I ain't gonna be a victim.

Well, that really only left me
one choice in my mind.

That means I gotta be
the victimizer.

At some point, for some reason,
might be legitimate,

might not be,
someone's gonna test you.

Even if you lose, you're gonna
have to stand up for yourself.

A guy comes over,
and it's your day

to get your package,
and he tries to take

your package from you
that your people sent you,

if you let him do it,
there's gonna be

10 other dudes,
"Oh, yeah, he let that guy

take his package,
I'm gonna go get his TV,"

right down the line
until somebody's after your ass.

And that's not good.

But if you stand up
that first time

and they see you'll stand up
for yourself,

even if you lose,
people will respect that.

"Oh, don't mess with him.
There's easier prey."

"Yeah, but I can get him."
Doesn't matter.

Don't mess with him.

Why do you have to go
and get that guy

and get a couple lumps for it
when he can go get

that guy's stuff over there,
don't cost you nothing.

It usually only has to happen
once or twice

but just as importantly

that you didn't go
to the man for help...

you're gonna be all right.

Now if you're suddenly

this isn't so bad, a black eye,
a few scratches,

and you're in the clear,
think again.

The American public in general
has been

so profoundly brainwashed
into thinking

that what we're doing
with our prison system

is somehow normal

or rational or... just,

I find that overwhelming
and exhausting just--

because the more you
spend time in--

inside and the more contact
you have with people

who've been directly affected,

the more depraved
the system appears.

Over 20%,
one out of every five inmates,

are physically attacked
every six months.

I wasn't in San Quentin a week,

and I watched a man die
right next to me.

I watched two guys just walk up
and just stab him to death.

Part of me
wanted to scream in fear.

But I had a bigger fear of,

what would these guys
think about me?

So I pretended like,
man, this ain't nothing.

I wanted
these people's acceptance.

They tell me,
"You know how to make a knife?

Stab that guy there."
And I did.

So instead of getting
a traditional education

or job training,
prison's a great place

to learn how to make a knife
by dropping a razor blade

onto the melted end
of the toothbrush.

[Jody] What happens
when you have vast numbers

of people
in a system like that

or in a location like that
who have medical needs,

mental health needs,
educational needs,

substance abuse,
all of these things.

and there's nobody who really
knows how to handle that,

so violence itself
is often a failure

of communication
or alternatives for coping.

There are all sorts
of complex social pressures

on people to be violent
in prison.

So a lot of the violence
you see in prison is not

an expression of the character
of the people in prison,

it's people reacting
to the situation.

And this is something
so few people understand.

If you took 1,000 people
off the street and put them

at Corcoran or Pelican Bay
or Soledad...

some huge number of them
would end up committing violence

because of the situation
that they've been placed in.

Five years into his sentence,
an older inmate

whose nickname was The Devil,
wanted Reggie to take the blame

for a knife the guards had
found in the yard.

But Reggie refused.

The Devil attacked Reggie
with a knife,

slashing his neck.

Reggie later would say
he knew then

either The Devil
was gonna kill him

or he had to kill The Devil.

About 15 minutes
after Reggie was attacked,

he jumped over
a correctional officer

and stabbed The Devil
with a prison shank.

I sit back every day,
and I second-guess myself.

Could I have went about
the situation any other way?

And no matter how many times
I tell myself,

this was the only thing
that could have happened,

it don't sit right
with me in my cell

because I should have never
been there in the first place.

I'm innocent, man,
and you turned me

into what y'all say I was.

Y'all been lying on me
this whole time,

and you turned me into
a murderer because I had to.

[Susan] After that,
they put Reggie

in solitary confinement,

and he went from
a life sentence

without possibility of parole
to facing the death penalty.

So he gets put on trial
in the death penalty case,

and his lawyer starts looking
into his original case

and gives me a call and says,

"You know,
I think this guy's innocent

of what he went to prison
for in the first place."

And the second reason
Reggie got out

besides the prison stabbing

was this miracle
of there happened to be a book

that had been put out
about the LA homicide division.

The author of the book
had documented a ride along

with the LAPD detective.

This homicide investigator's
first night

that she was on the job.

The very night
she investigated the murder,

she would ultimately arrest
Reggie for.

And we're flipping through
the book and reading it,

and there's
all this stuff in it

that was never disclosed
to the defense.

That's all documented
that all indicates

pretty clearly
that Reggie's innocent.

But it would still take
the Innocence Project 10 years

to get Reggie out of prison.

A grandmother doing life
for murder was released

from prison yesterday
after 17 years

when a judge said
she did not do it.

[Matthew] Susan Mellon recently
filed a lawsuit against

the detective who arrested her
for hiding evidence.

That detective is the same one
who arrested Reggie Cole.

[fire-engine siren wailing,
horn honking]


You know, we--
you know, as a society,

we see the bad guy
and the good guy.

Well, that's cops and robbers.

But when the cop becomes
the robber, the game is over.

The game is over.
That's corruption.

It was a horrific twist of fate
that led to Reggie's release.

Bruce was more fortunate.

His father's death
led to an unexpected turn.

Providence was his big thing,
and he had,

you know,
great life insurance.

It was 184,000 that my dad
left me,

and I was able to parlay
that up to about 236,

in the stock market,
and then it was just 100%

of my time dedicated to my case.

[Susan] And that enabled Bruce
to hire a private investigator.

We had, essentially,
a growing war chest of evidence

that I hadn't committed
the crime or at least

that all the evidence that was
presented was false evidence.

I had received
a complaint from Bruce Lisker.

I flew up to the state prison
where Bruce Lisker was.

I spoke to him.

When somebody is accused
of murder

or you're arrested for murder,
it's tape-recorded.

Everything is tape-recorded.
I couldn't find his tape.

It had been taken out
of evidence by Detective Monsue,

and it was never
put back into evidence.

[Matthew] Detective Monsue
had said the footprints

outside the house matched
the footprints on the inside.

Lieutenant Gavin found
the footprints

weren't actually looked at
by a scientist

or any qualified expert.

So he took matters
into his own hands.

So I contacted our people,

scientific investigative

So he takes out
this big magnifying glass,

looks at it,
looks at the other one,

and he goes,
"These two don't match."

See this is a great

for any large organization
that you've convicted

somebody for murder and then
five, 10, 20 years later,

it turns out that
the person's actually innocent.

And this is what
my lieutenant said--

"That motherfucker
is not getting out of prison.

Do you understand me,
Sergeant Gavin?"

They will do everything
they can to stop you,

prevent you from coming forward
with the information you have.

[Susan] Upon reviewing
the comprehensive work

of the private investigator,

the LAPD Internal
Affairs Department

claimed Bruce's complaints
were unfounded

and that no misconduct
had occurred.

You can't have
an internal investigation

where we all investigate

Tha-- that's like a joke.

I'm not against the authorities
or anything like that.

I'm just against the system
that has no checks and balances.

Who the fuck his checking y'all?

I believe that internal affairs

should be separate
from the police department.

There is no way that
a Police Department

can investigate themselves.

Currently, there are
no independent organizations

whose job it is to
investigate police misconduct.

And there's no oversight
of prosecutors, either.

Prosecutorial misconduct
is a major factor

of wrongful convictions.

It's a single thread
that runs through

almost all of
the wrongful-conviction cases.

[Matthew] Jeff Deskovic has
a Master's in criminal justice,

in wrongful convictions.

He's also a survivor
of prosecutorial misconduct.

I spent 16 years in prison.

I was wrongfully convicted
at 17.

I emerged at 32.

Jeff eventually won a lawsuit
against Putnam County,

New York,
for his conviction,

which enabled him
to start his own foundation.

And I'm the founder
and executive director

of the Jeffrey Deskovic
Foundation for Justice.

There's no deterrence.
There's no oversight.

There's no punishment
for prosecutors.

So they can break the law.

They don't face
criminal penalties,

even when they engage
in withholding

evidence of innocence,
threatening witnesses,

coercing witnesses.

No matter how serious
the misconduct is,

if the prosecutor commits that
after an arrest has been made,

they have what's called
prosecutorial immunity.

They're above the law.

We need prosecutors

to really uphold
what's become just words,

which is, you know,
they're there to do justice.

They're there
to do the right thing.

It becomes more like
"we're there to win,"

especially when
prosecutor's offices

actually keep statistics
on conviction rates.

Well, you should be credited
that you looked at a case

where the police thought
they had a good case

but a good prosecutor
looked at it and said,

"You know what?
There's some mistakes made here.

We should drop the charges
in this case."

We should incentivize that.

But instead, we actually
incentivize the opposite,

of getting convictions
and getting conviction rates.

All of a sudden, justice gets
lost in that process.

And whether this guy committed
the crime or not gets lost

in that process 'cause
it's all about winning my case.

Immunity, that's bullshit.

I mean, in the real world,
you know, you're supposed to be

held accountable
for your wrongdoings.

So, therefore, if you're
a person of authority--

of authority,
that you have to be held

at a higher standard
than just a layman.

I think we actually need
to step back

and kind of rethink
the whole system

in the way
we're approaching it

because it's become this game,

and people's lives are lost
as a result of it.

If you ever do find yourself
wrongfully convicted,

odds are,
you're never getting out.

The first thing you need to do
is send preservation letters

to the Police Department labs
and the courts

requesting that you want
all your evidence saved.

Otherwise, they may destroy it
within 30 days.

Try to find an Innocence Project
that'll take your case.

Prepare for this process
to take years.

Then pray for a miracle.

The Innocence Project
estimates conservatively

there could easily be 40,000
to over 100,000 Americans

currently wrongfully convicted,

the majority of which
are people of color.

It's kind of hard for me
to relate to my family

because they don't see me
as the same.

It's like Adam and Eve
when he told them,

"Don't go
and don't eat this fruit,"

and they ate it,
and they were enlightened.

I'm enlightened.
I'm on the other side now.

I'm not the same
as y'all no more.

You know, I don't--
I can't speak

in a boisterous tone
because everyone gets scared.

But I'm not that dude.
I'm not him.

And I'm innocent, man.
I'm innocent.

You know,
I gotta fight my demons.

I gotta do what I gotta do
for me, you know?

I got a child, you know?

I'm trying
to get myself right so I can,

you know, teach her right.

But I mean,
there's no accountability.

These people
that did this to me,

these people
that took everything, man,

they took everything.

[Susan] Bruce's
private investigator

never gave up on his case.

He had a very vigorous
private investigator

who made a complaint
to the LAPD,

and it landed on the desk of
an Internal Affairs investigator

who looked at Bruce's claims in
a very serious-minded fashion.

It's the people
like Detective Monsue

and the others out there
that have made our job

very difficult to do
day after day

because we lose
the confidence of the public,

and we lose the confidence
of the courts.

We have to have police chiefs,
directors of public service

that are willing to do
the right thing

and terminate employees
who are doing the wrong thing.

If you want to say
you're the good guy

but you're ostracized by
everybody that you believed in,

it's a very difficult situation
because I have to continue

to work for the same department
that did this to Bruce Lisker.

I don't look at myself
as a hero.

I look at myself as a survivor
because the system attacked me.

The system went after me,
and the system did

everything they could
to keep Bruce Lisker in jail

and everything to keep me quiet.

It's been a lot of therapy.

My wife and I met
in third grade.

We were elementary, junior-high,
high-school sweethearts.

We lived on the same street,

and it's been a very difficult,
difficult road.

She is third-generation LAPD.

And the survival is day by day

and always looking
over your shoulder

whether you're doing
the right thing or not.

You're constantly
looking over your shoulder.

And every time I get called
into the captain's office,

I wonder, "What did I do now?"

And I've never had
that feeling before.

I just kept on telling myself,
they are not going to defeat me.

They're not going to defeat me.

It's just when you
come across something like this,

what are you gonna do?

And that's the difficult thing.

If I had not given up
the information that I did

to the LA Times, Bruce Lisker
would still be in prison.

[Matt] A bloody footprint
that was attributed to Bruce

at his trial had recently
been reanalyzed

and shown to have not been
made from Bruce's shoe.

So that got us interested
in the case,

and we started talking
to his private investigator

and began
the seven-month investigation.

And at the conclusion of that,
they filed an article

called A Case of Doubt
that eventually

won them an award,
won The Times an award.

I wound up sitting
between 2005,

when the first article came out,
and 2009 in prison,

four solid years...

a widely recognized
innocent man.

We knew back in 2003, 2004,
that we had probably a person

that was in prison
for a crime he did not commit.

And it took five years
for the courts

to work through the--
the entire system.

There were a lot of delays
because of the conduct

of my own police department
and the conduct

of the California
Attorney General.

[Matthew] Reggie Cole
spent 16 years in prison

for a crime he didn't commit.

10 of those years were spent
in solitary confinement,

and he had to kill another man
to get a trial.

The whole way I've been
telling them, I'm innocent.

Every article I'm in,

everybody I'm talking to,
I'm telling them,

"I'm innocent, man,
I didn't do anything to anyone."

They don't care.
They don't care.

It's not that they didn't know.
They didn't care.

It's a miracle Reggie
got out at all.

Tim's is a miracle story
as well.

In late 2012, after 26 years,
he made parole.

I signed some papers
for the parole officer,

he said,
"Okay, see you later.

Didn't ask me
how I was getting home,

didn't ask me if I had a home.

When I realized these people
honestly don't give a fuck.

To survive getting out,

it's a lot harder
than it sounds.

You may have developed
post-traumatic stress disorder,

agoraphobia, paranoia
and require immediate treatment.

You're gonna need food,
new clothes.

You're going to need money
for transportation

to and from
your parole-officer meeting.

If you miss a meeting,

you could find yourself
back in jail.

You're going to need a job,

but there's a lot
of discrimination out there

for employment and housing.

Speaking of which,
you're gonna need a home.

I wouldn't have a home

if it wasn't for
the Rescue a Life Foundation.

They set up a house,
a transitional housing.

God and that foundation
is what's got me by.

It's the reason I'm sitting here
and not back inside.

[Susan] The Rescue
a Life Foundation was founded

by Dwayne McElwee who knows
how challenging it can be

to re-enter society.

Dwayne did 25 years himself
for murder.

After school,
we would have to go down

to my mother's dress shop
and hang out all day

and work around the business.

At that time,
we had several organizations

that would just patrol
that area.

So it was pretty safe.
We had the Black Panthers,

Ron Karenga's
whole organization,

United Slaves.

We had the Nation of Islam.

It was pretty cool,
you didn't have to worry

about people coming in,
holding you up and everything.

Didn't have to worry
about that type of stuff.

But it was after the COINTELPRO
when they got pushed underground

that everything just seemed
like, you know, went crazy.

All the thugs came out,
and then, you know,

you were fair game then,
the store operators.

That's when we started having
a lot of robberies,

a lot of burglaries.

My mother, she's just
a little, bitty 5-foot-4 lady.

She was beat up and robbed
one day while I was there.

And he grabbed her,
threw her to the ground

and kicked her and beat her
after he got the money.

Then he figured it wasn't
enough money, you know?

And I was a little kid.

I was probably about 11 years
old at the time, you know?

And he had this gun on him,
and she was hollering at me

not to move and just--
you know,

and this dude is kicking her
and demanding more money.

He got all the money we had,
you know?

[Matthew] Dwayne's mother
wasn't robbed once.

She was robbed over
and over again.

I had a good friend.

He would always be commenting
about me being so uptight.

And he smoked weed.
He said, "Man, just take this.

You need,
this, like, medication."

That led to other things.
you know.

That led to cocaine,
it led to PCP,

Which ended up leading
to my crime

that happened that sent me
to prison, you know.

I went to prison
for a second-degree murder.

Some dudes robbed me.

They were supposed to have been
the middleman

going to get the drugs,
and they end up robbing me.

Because it had happened to us
in our business,

the family business so much,
this guy,

he wasn't just someone that
was robbing me all the time.

He was the image of somebody

that had been victimizing
my family.

And all these other times,
you had got away,

but this time,
you weren't going to get away.

So it was kind of like
a revenge thing,

a retaliation thing
for you and your kind.

You're going to pay for that,
and so what I found

is that what you can't forgive,
you end up becoming.

What you can't forgive,
you end up becoming.

So I had to learn how to forgive
and let that go,

and I had to learn
how to forgive him

and let that go
because he was also after--

I got to see his record,
and this guy had a rap sheet,

you know, from here--
from one side of the room

to the other, you know,
and I could see that, you know,

he needed the same help
that I needed.

We are generally taught
to imagine

that there is such a thing as,
for example, a murderer, right?

So in other words, a murderer
in the public imagination

and in most of our minds,
whether we've thought about it

or not, initially,
is someone who likes to murder

and who would murder
given the opportunity, right?

It's like a vocation, right?
That's what murderers do.

They go around murdering,

And that's why you don't let
them out of prison

You let them out of prison,
they're going to murder again.

The reality is that murder
is almost always a context.

It's a situation.

It is,
statistically speaking,

very rarely driven
by a compulsion

or a desire to do harm, right?

It's a reaction to some set
of circumstances,

to a real or perceived threat,
to some extreme emotional state.

It's not a propensity.

Basically, we're confusing
the profile of a psychopath,

the psychopath we've read about,
you know, the serial killer,

with prisoners in general,

If we as a society
stop and imagine

that the people in prison
are fully human,

incredibly diverse,
have often been through

some of the most extreme
and difficult situations

and conditions,
some of which many of us

couldn't even really
begin to imagine, then suddenly,

all of that judgment
and all that hostility

and all that vindictiveness

doesn't have such
a natural place anymore.

Many of our students
have committed murder

and felt horrible
about their crime

as soon as it happened.

It's not like they needed
to sit in prison for 15

or 20 years to realize
they'd done a bad thing

or to never want to do it again.

There's no human element...

to the criminal justice

There's no human element.
They're not there to help you.

They're not there
to help society.

They can say that that's what
it's set up for all they want.

That's not what it's there for,

not in California
and not in a lot of places.

It's a system set up
to punish people,

and they take a bad situation,

and they usually
make it much worse.

You know what the official
success rate of state prison is?

Nearly 80% of all inmates
go back within five years.

That's a success rate of 20%.

Imagine if we had those
requirements of airplanes.

Wow, eight out of 10 airplanes
falling out of the sky.

It's a little bit crazy-making.

And that is
Department of Justice data.

That's federal government

Dr. Michael Coyle
attended Harvard University,

has a PhD in justice studies

and is a professor
of criminal justice

at California State

Dr. Coyle says that prison

not only increases
criminal behavior

but has a deleterious effect
on society as a whole.

What happens to a family
when the wage earner is removed

from society and thrown
into prison for 10 years?

What happens to those children?
How are they impacted?

What are their chances
of success in life?

They start to go down.

How does that impact
the community?

Loss of resources
in that community,

more demands
on the community now to help--

to help this family,

maybe the other parent,
maybe the children.

It's just so clearly
a failure

by every measure
that you look at it

that I think we just need
to rethink the whole thing

and not just keep trying
to put lipstick on this pig,

'cause that's what we're doing.

I think it is difficult
for people to imagine

a world without prisons now.

We've become so accustomed

to the idea of prisons that
it's hard for people to imagine.

Well, what do you do with people
if you don't put them in prison

when they've done wrong?

There are other alternatives.

Dostoevsky said the degree
of civilization

in a society could be judged
by entering its prisons.

Hebrews, 13:3,

remember those who are in chains

as if you
were in chains with them.

If we don't,
we put everybody at risk.

My husband, Dan,
was a police officer,

and he was killed
in the line of duty.

My goal at the trial
was to get the man

who killed my husband
convicted of first-degree murder

and be given the death penalty,
and that's what I got.

That's what happened.
I thought okay, here it is.

I got justice.
I'm gonna be free from this.

And it didn't happen.
It was-- it was just a lie.

It didn't change anything.

Aqeela Sherrills is famous

for brokering the truce
between the Crips

and the Bloods in 1992.

Then in 2004, he experienced
an unimaginable tragedy.

My oldest son was murdered,
home from winter break, college.

And, yeah,
was shot to death at a party.

You know, so my daughter
called me and was like,

"Hey, you know, dad,
they getting together

over on Sesame Street
in the projects and stuff,

and they talking about going
on a mission for Tyrell."

So I jumped in my car,
and I drove over there

to the projects,
and I jumped out the car,

and I said, "Hey," I said,

"Man, we've played
this eye-for-an-eye,

tooth-for-a tooth game
long enough."

I'm like, "You know,
it's left us all blind

and toothless, you know?"

And I'm like,
"Without anybody here

to provide direction
and guidance for the kids

and the young folks
and the parents

and the loved ones
that are left behind like"--

I'm like,
"Let's do something different."

I've met people who've had

absolutely devastating things
happen to them,

and they're just angry
and bitter.

And I didn't want that to be me.
I'd done that long enough.

And it wasn't working.

And I needed
something different.

Dionne and Aqeela
did something incredible.

They rose to a consciousness
most of us cannot imagine.

They didn't condone
what happened,

but they forgave it.

I believe in the "F" word,
you know, forgiveness.

Because of forgiveness is not,
you know,

something that you do
for the perpetrator.

It's something
that you do for yourself.

There is no cure
to violence in violence.

Violence can never
be a cure for violence.

It's been said
for thousands of years.

You can't fight darkness
with darkness.

You can only bring in the light.

If we're really trying
to deliver public safety,

then we need to start
asking questions.

We need to say why.

What happened
in the personal life

of this young man to cause him
to have this callous heart,

this fear that he would take
another human being's life?

Why is this person

cycling in and out
of jail or prison?

For Dionne, she decided
she wanted the death

of her husband Dan to lead
to something transformative,

something good and the same
for Aqeela and his son, Tyrell.

We're going to harness
the essence of Tyrell,

and we're going to do something
much more profound with this.

The point is to understand
what's happened.

How can we repair the harm
that's been done?

How can we make sure
that it doesn't happen again?

And how can we, you know--
with that individual,

but also with other individuals
coming after them.

When we get the answer
to that question,

we need to actually
do something about it.

Real investment in institutions

that help people
to heal from trauma.

There was an interesting

in The New York Times
a few years ago.

It was called
Million Dollar Blocks,

where if you calculated
how many of the residents

of that particular block
were actually incarcerated

and you added up
how much it cost the state

to keep those people

you would actually come up with
more than $1 million per block.

What I would say is
take those million dollars

that you're spending to put
all those people in prison

and invest them
in the kinds of things

that we know very well

will actually transform
those communities.

My passion is Shakespeare
because it's about words.

And the only way that
you can heal trauma

is to find language for it.

I met my father
when I was like 15.

[Curt] Never met him before?
Never saw him?

There's something strange here.
It's something--

someone with my kind of
background here a little bit.

What they're trying to do
is simply inhabit

that character
as truthfully as they can.

And in analyzing
and digging down deep

into the truth
of that character,

what happens is they begin
to dig into their own lives.

[man] When I was a young man
and I came to prison,

the older convicts taught me how
to hustle at every opportunity

to make money,
how to get over on the police.

And I looked up to them.
They were my mentors.

Through Shakespeare Behind Bars,

I have learned that mentoring--
mentoring is--

it's very important,
but it's also important

to mentor them
in the right direction.

So, our recidivism rate
in Kentucky

for this program,
22 years old, is 5.1%.

Guys that are out on the street.
"Why didn't they go back?"

People ask all the time.
I say, "Don't ask me, ask them."

What'll they tell you?
Here's what I hear them say.

"I take responsibility for
the crime that brought me here.

I now understand where
that behavior came from

because I've gone back
in my life,

and I've looked at all of that.

But I am not
that human being anymore.

That's what arts programming
many times gives prisoners hope,

because arts deal with
the internal essence

of what it means
to be a human being.

[man vocalizing]

Vipassana is an intense program,
a meditative technique.

The inmate has to go through it
24 hours a day

- for a 10-day period of time.
- I spent eight and a half years

on death row,
and this was harder.

All the stuff
that's buried down deep,

they come up gradually.

They want you there long enough

that you actually deal
with your stuff.

[woman] She says...

[Matthew] This is a restorative
justice workshop.

They're very rare,
and they are much harder

on perpetrators of crimes
than sitting in a prison cell.

It puts these guys face to face

with the human consequences
of their actions.

This is Rosa.

Her son was killed
in a drive-by shooting.

And now, she devotes her life
to telling inmates

serving time for murder what
the effect was of their crime

not just for the deceased
but on everyone.

- Thank you. Thank you.
- Thank you.


[Rosa] You know what?

Restorative justice programs

and victim/offender
reconciliations can take years.

They require a staff
and resources

and they're incredibly

Those who go through
these programs

have as low as 10% rates
of reoffending

as opposed to the 80% failure
rates prisons shamefully have.

We sit there perplexed like,
wow, what are we gonna do

about this criminal
justice system?

It's such a mess.

Maybe if we just stopped doing
these things that we're doing

and we try on a whole new set
of other things,

it might turn out to be a little
bit simpler than we thought.

The biggest prison we have
is an invisible prison.

It's the conditioned mind,
and you don't know

you're in the prison because
you can't see bars.

You can't see walls.

And the conditioned mind
is the separate mind.

It doesn't exist.

We are part of
a collective mind,

and if the collective mind
is violent, then we are violent.

And you can change that.

There's an opportunity here
for us to take the wisdom

that we know works,
what we would do

for our own kids if our own kids
were in trouble,

and do it
for everybody's kids.

We need to end the war on drugs.

We have to demand
once and for all

an end to policing
and prisons for profit.

At least half of the people
in there are in there

for crimes of addiction

or economic desperation
or mental health.

Instead of just throwing

that we've decided
we can't help into prison...

Use the money for restorative
justice programs,

rehabs, and social services.

There has to be
citizen oversight

and accountability
for all our public servants.

Luckily for us, we have access
to all of the data.

If you have any interest
in justice or equal access

to opportunity in this country,

all the data,
luckily, is out there.

It's just a matter
of whether you give a shit.

Our survival depends
on being logical.

Our survival depends
on being smart.

And our survival depends
on love...

for each other....

And, um...

love for yourself.

[female reporter] And a good
Monday morning to you.

California man finally free
after serving 16 years

for a crime he didn't commit.

[Reggie] I didn't think
it was real until I saw

my attorneys in visiting, and--

I'm trying to describe
the feeling.

It was an unbelievable feeling.

It was just an emotional
roller coaster that, you know--

I mean,
I cried walking out.

It was just the magnitude
of all these years

and, like, now here it is.

And then a moment later,

I would be too bewildered
to cry

and I would just be--

That-- that whole day
was really scary for me.

A lot of people, like,
think that they would be like,

"Yay," but I was terrified.

There were well-wishers--
well-wishers there of officers

that knew the--
I think they knew the truth

and certainly knew
the character,

you know, my character.

And then
I was in the parking lot.

The air smelled different.

I wish my mom
could've been there.

I wish my dad
could've been there.

I wish my stepmom
could've been there.

But I think in a way they were.

And it was good.
It was good.

Like, once I got on the other
side with my attorneys,

I just felt like running,
like just getting as far away

from that place
as I possibly could.

That's probably not the answer

that everybody would think
that I would have.

But... it wasn't
a joyous time for me.

I mean, like, I literally
was scared to death.

My cousin was waiting for me.

My private investigator
was waiting for me,

and I said-- you want to hear
what I actually said?

[laughs] And I looked at Paul,
and I said, you know...

"Let's get this stuff
in the truck

and get the fuck out of here."

And we couldn't leave
fast enough.

The first place we stopped
at was IHOP for some breakfast.

And I was, like,
amazed at just the syrup menu.

[laughs] It just was
overwhelming, like,

it was completely overwhelming.

[Bruce] I haven't been
in a vehicle

without being chained at my feet
and with a waist chain

and then handcuffs hooked
to the waist chain

and in a paper jumpsuit
for 26 years.

* I am a man

* I am a man

* I am a man

* I am a man
'cause you said I am *

The word "adjustment," I mean--
[clears throat]

I try to--
I try to figure that word out.

Do I have to--

I'm still trying to figure
that word out.

Like, how do you adjust coming
from the planet Mars to Earth?

I don't even think the oxygen
is the same up there.

I don't think
I'm adjusted at all.

* It's impossible
to be invincible *

* But maybe it's possible
to be impossible *

* I am a man

* I am a man

* I am a man

* I am a man
'cause you said I am *

* Yeah

* I am a man

* I am a man

* I am a man

* I am a man
'cause you said I am *

* Yeah

* Oooh

* Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh

* Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh

* Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh

* Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh

* Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh

* Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh

* Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh

* Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh

* Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh

* Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh

* Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh

* Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh

* Ohh, ohh, ohh...