August 6, 2010

Tonight on Larry King Live!

Posted: 06:20 PM ET

Inside the dangerous world of maximum security prison!

Smuggled drugs, gangs, violent assaults, murders with homemade weapons…and it all happens behind bars. 

Tonight, meet “The Squad: Prison Police” – the men and women who investigate prison crimes.   If you think law enforcement has it tough on the outside, wait until you see what they’re up against on the INSIDE.

Find out how inmates are able to turn ordinary items, like newspapers or toothbrushes,  into deadly weapons…and how contraband, like cell phones,  are bought and sold on the prison black market.

Plus a former inmate gives his first hand account of surviving behind bars…

We want to hear from you:

Do you think prison crime can be controlled?

Sound off below!

Filed under: Larry King Live

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Smith in Oregon   August 6th, 2010 6:54 pm ET

There is a tremendous amount of corruption and graft in America's immense prison system. Guards smuggling drugs and taking cash bribes occur everyday, 24/7. Many convicts will flat out tell you there are more drugs in Prison than they find on the street corners on Main Street, USA.

Deputy's running drugs and favors to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in untraceable cash are found across America's massive prison system.

The Racism that is taught and instilled into America's prisons by the Sheriff's and Guards is undeniable. They pit Blacks vs Browns vs White prisoners and then sit back and laugh as the gangs of racial groups tear each other apart. Often money changes hands as select prisoners are pitted against one another and prison guards simply walk away to leave them alone for a vicious fight.

Jessie from Auckland, NZ   August 6th, 2010 7:24 pm ET

Yes, where is the corruption coming from first of all. It sounds like a war zone in there and it is scary.

I have watched a few documentaries on prisons in the USA, and I will never watch another one again. It was quite disturbing to watch. I can't stomach that kind of thing anymore. Prefer not to see it.

I feel sorry for the people that have to look after them. You have to be a strong individual to do that type of job, a certain type of person.

I know the workers do their best and that there will be the good and the bad in every walk of life. But kudos to them.

I am not really in a position to say whether prison crime can be controlled, I would like it to be of course.

Maybe they all need to find God in there to bring peace and love into their minds and hearts.

Allen Barker   August 6th, 2010 9:04 pm ET

Yes I believe that prisons can be secured and that men like those having to police the prison are heros. Any staff delivering contraband should not just be fired, but prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If no laws exist for that prosecution, one should be put in place. (The only kind of new law that might be worthwhile.)

Being a little to the right of G. Kahn, I also wish that our prisons treated inmates like the do under Sheriff Arpao (sp?) in AZ. Instead they have a better lifestyle than many on the outside with free medical and dental.

Smith in Oregon   August 6th, 2010 9:08 pm ET

Tenn. Dept. of Corrections oh boy! Must be right up there with the Georgia and Arizona road gangs. A throw back to 'Cool hand Luke' and the mass of corruption and extortion often seen and experienced in America's prison system. And what about prisons in States teetering on the brink of bankruptcy? Too bad for the prisoners who are fed the cheap petrol-chemical Louisiana seafood, and cat food as they can get away with.

sue   August 6th, 2010 9:25 pm ET

is a juvenile dentesion as bad as a jail.are they easy on them

maryann   August 6th, 2010 9:31 pm ET

No, because as long as you feel threatned your going to do anything to protect your self. If I were to ever go to jail I would proably act just like them. Most of the people in there just want to survive the time they have been given to be in there!

Sherry Edwards   August 6th, 2010 9:49 pm ET

not all ceel phone use in a Ca. priosn is used for dealing with crimes/drugs...
many are smuggled in to talk with family.... to give hope, support to our loved ones inside.... my son barders for the use of a cell. to call me, or his grandmother..........he knows how the cost of an out of state call can be sometimes as high as 25.00.............. when he can give a box of soup or more to be able to call home............the system hurts the family more sometimes than the inmate.....SE

Andrea Mosier   August 6th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

The escaped convicts in Arizona for clarification purposes were from a private prison in Kingman. the employees are private employees and are not state trained officers and they do not go through an academy. The convicts escaped by having their accomplice drive on the premises and pretend to be lost, while driving around she tossed the pliers over the fence where she knew the inmates could get them. they train dogs at this prison so the inmates used the dog door to prop open and get out into an area that is restricted and not watched but should have sensors. They got the pliers through this method and they cut through the fence. The call was actually reported 2 hours after it actually happened. this is a clear example of why we can not have our prisons become privatized. When the prisons are private they are not formally trained. Another major problem is lowering the custody level of these offenders. It happens all the time and these inmates that escaped were level 5's that were dropped down to a level 3. this has to stop, and the prisons are becoming way to complacent.

Sally   August 6th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

More prison workers need to be hired. All will have prior military experience with excellent to perfect record and honorable discharge. Each prisoner will be assigned to this worker. This worker and other workers will be monitored by their Captain. These jobs are going to be paid as any social work-poorly. So this job will be for those who are truly sincere about making a difference. Bring our soldiers home. We have much work to do in our own territory.

Kim   August 6th, 2010 9:53 pm ET

We should do away with prisons and instead put inmates on a boat patrolled (machine guns mounted on the boat) island with nothing more than the shirts on their backs (if that). They can live among themselves and instead of being bored and causing more trouble, they can keep themselves busy learning how to grow the food they eat, learning how to build structures to live in, etc. There would be no such thing as visits, or any contact with the outside world. Prisoners could be parachuted in. Absolutely no contact with the outside world would mean no smuggling, no drugs, etc. If these people cannot live within society's laws, they can live outside of society on their own, saving an immense amount of tax dollars. Whatever would happen on the island, would be there business, and NO ONE would ever want to go there therefore being a real deterrent to crime.

Mom in Alabama   August 6th, 2010 10:01 pm ET

I have children, young men and in prison AL. One of my son's has made comments on visiting day about ALL the things that the TENN Dept of Corrections was discussing. Only Tenn. seems to have it under controll. AL does not care who kills who or what they do. The Corrections Officer's take certain inmates into their cubicle and BEAT them furiously when the lights go out at night. One of my son's has been incarcerated almost 5 years on a 10 year sentence and has seen everything that is in most of our worst nightmares. ALDOC is overcrowding themselves by holding inmates longer than necessary. I know that the saying is true, "KEEPING AN INMATE INCARCERATED LONGER THAN NECESSARY DOES MORE HARM THAN GOOD." It is true. As long as ADOC continues to hold criminal's in incarceration past their release date, it only turns them into a "HARD CORE CRIMINAL."

COII   August 6th, 2010 10:15 pm ET

I work for the arizona department of corrections. This escape is not theonly serious problem we are dealing with. Inmates are assualting each other and staff everyday> Our prisons are falling apart making our work harder. The director Ryan showing deliberate indifferance towards our concerns. We just lost our performance pay of 2.5 percent We are being forced to work harder because we have deputy wardens and wardens telling us in different ways to deal with it ourselve. The system we have to discipline inmates within the prison is not working because we have staff who drop the charges and lets the inmates off giving them the oportunity to become more confrontational and beligerant towards us. This director we have keeps making it worse by blaming the line officers for what goes wrong and covering up the truth. Our fire detectors are breaking down to the point that we are the ones to go check the buildings each our to make sure there are no fires. This escape in Kingman, Arizona is another excuse for Director Ryan to punish all the states prisons in this state. We do zone checks on the perimeter fences once each shift to make sure our fences are intact and the alarms are in working condition. Now because of the escape we have to do this twice each shift. We just lost o lot of experianced officers due to the rotations developed by director Ryan. He claims that the officers are becoming complacent spending more than 3 years on a unit. He tried this the last time he was in charge of Arizona DOC. It was a big failure last time because the experienced officers were moved and the the units they went to were different in the ways they were run and the custody levels. The inmates took advantage and got away with things they could not with the previous officers. Now Ryan is back he decided to implement the rotations again with the staffing levels being so low. Now the units have newer officers with less then 3 years in the department telling those of us with more than 5 years in how to run the unit. Ryans purpose was to force senior officers to quit so he can hire new officers with little to no experiance in handling inmates of any custody for a lower pay. He is sacrificing staff, inmate and public safety for the sake of brining in experienced officers. We are having serious trouble trying to control inmates. Some of these new officers are proving to be more cowards who are afraid to be around inmates and writing up other staff because they can't do their own jobs. This is an issue that administration is trying to cover up. If the public knew what really is going on they would want the director removed and and ask Governer Brewer why she brought in someone who is no better then the inmates we are in charge of. More and more of the officers are becoming discruntled and frustrated because we are not backed by most of those in charge of us. Before you listen to this director and the governer, talk to the officers first and you will find out the truth. If you want to know more contact me and I can tell you other disturbing issues and give you a website to check out. The former governer Napolitano and her fromer college roommate Shiro are resonsible for giving special privaleges to these inmates. They chose to listen to convicted criminals than to staff. The unions we have are worthless. They talk about diong so much for us, but at our level we are still being told to keep our mouths shut and work.

fay   August 8th, 2010 8:21 am ET

Sounds like you need a new job if your that disgruntled. Nobody is making you stay there unlike an inmate when some co's beat on them and they can go nowhere and like your own post eludes to your comrades cover it up!

Sally   August 6th, 2010 10:35 pm ET

I don't know where that guest on your show came from (the felon) but he is absolutely 100% WRONG!!! The contraband, especially the cell phones come from the prison guards (C.O.'s) themselves. Pay them the right amount of $$$$$$ and they will do anything. We were on lock down for a month because prison guards smuggled in a vast amount of contraband to inmates....especially cell phones. It was NOT the visitors. In Texas visitation is extremely strict! Of course it was all swept under the "rug" because it was the C.O.'s. Send someone undercover to the Texas prison system and you will find out exactly how much corruption there is in that system with the C.O.'s, especially the women's prison system. It is horrifing. I had to be transferred because I exposed the corrupt prison guards to the warden. And NOTHING HAPPENED TO PUNISH THEM. I was told by the warden's staff themselves to "shut up" and look the other way!!!!!!!!! Don't pay attention to what is going on, etc..... If I want to live in the Texas prison system, I had better shut up and say nothing to all the corruption that was happening around me.

Marjorie in Los Angeles   August 6th, 2010 10:36 pm ET

The majority of drugs and cell phones in prisons got there through correction officers. I agree, cell phones are not always used for illegal purposes – but to keep in touch with family and loved ones. Thousands of California inmates are now in out of state facilities.

tdcfroggy   August 6th, 2010 11:33 pm ET

Well america wake up especially in the state of Texas
If the government of Texas would see what we have to deal
with on a daily bases maybe they would rethink how much we get payed $ 32000 a year to make sure the worst of the worst stay where
the people want them behind bars.... yes we have priblems just like any other company , but we can't fire offenders and we can't send them home .... so do you deal with them NO we do ....PEOPLE

terry   August 7th, 2010 12:32 am ET

YES by hiring alot more guards.

Mark McAndrew   August 7th, 2010 12:34 am ET

Prison is supposed to be a deterrent, a punishment – and most importantly, a CURE for criminality.

Instead, it's a factory for making even worse criminals. That's the dumbest idea that our society has ever had. It benefits nobody – especially not the law-abiding majority.

The solution is keeping all prisoners in solitary, but also treating them as human beings. That means shorter sentences, because solitary is harsh, but absolute control of their environment too.

Keep prisoners permanently isolated from each other and the gangs are no more. Don't dehumanize them though – give them TVs so that they can see the world they're missing. Let them have books, phone calls to their family that aren't $9 per minute (!), and as much study aids as possible. Hell, even let them smoke – it's their lungs.

Turn criminals into better citizens, not better criminals.

Luke   August 7th, 2010 12:42 am ET

u can never control a prison popilation without them wanting to get back at everything without violence

PHX-CO   August 7th, 2010 12:59 am ET

First....we are NOT guards (they work at Wal-mart), we are weapon Certified Officers of the Law. We are sworn Officers by the State of AZ!
The 3 inmates that escaped were housed in a PRIVATE prison, which hire and regulate their own STANDARDS n PROCEDURES. Private Prisons are a Cheaper Way for the State to sell off financial responsibilites and make QUICK money to subsides the local ECONOMY. The introduction of CONTRBAND (weapons, cell phones) etc... enters the prison system NOT just by Corrupt Officers but also by SUPPORT STAFF ( Food Service, Nurses, Teachers, Maintenence and Outside Contractors.... So Before WE stereotype Correctional Officers....get all the FACTS!!!!

Paul   August 7th, 2010 1:10 am ET

Much was sajd about inmates having and usin g cell phones from within prison facilities. There is technology available to block cell phone transmissions into and out off prison facilities. Deploying this technology is a cost effective way to eliminate prisoners from sending/receiving cell calls. It is inconceivable that crrection faclities have not implemented this to shut down inmate cell communications.

PHX-CO   August 7th, 2010 1:12 am ET

Correctional Officers risk their lives daily to protect the community by over-seeing violent convicted felons. We endure verbal and physical altercations/disrespect on a regular basis. WE are UNDER Paid and Over worked.. Let's show my Law Enforcement Department some RESPECT. We are Not all untrained, unethical or uneducated.

Cesar   August 7th, 2010 1:42 am ET

They need to make all Correctional facilities working facilities.

IKHAN   August 8th, 2010 4:18 pm ET

Hi Larry,
Hi folks
The prison population in USA reached more than 2 million according to statistics released by Dept.of Justice. That was by June 2003.
It is estimated that at the time the overcrowding of prisons was at a level 33% above & beyond the capacity of prisons. This surely must be one of the worst in the world.
No idea what its like now. Its a worrisome situation to say the least, in the context of corruption,crime in the system & its sustainability. Those responsible in the administration have to seriously look at it taking into account the grievances of the Correction Officers & their suggestions.

Problem is that we as a nation have been conditioned to find faults & demons in other countries & cultures by those in power & politicians which serves them fine. In fact their survival, as we have seen during the past administration, depends on instilling fear,hate & phobias in our collective psyche so that we remain obsessed with outside threats & perceived enemies & they get away with murder ,so to speak.
A nation which stops looking inwards to own weaknesses, follies, faults etc & refuses to admit them & ignores core valus cannot for long sustain its greatness.

Heather Lang   October 8th, 2010 11:12 pm ET

I'm a former Psychiatric Social Worker for the Tennessee Department of Corrections and am currently trying to find an attorney to represent me on a discrimination, retaliation and whistle-blower case involving the Tennessee Department of Corrections and many of the Internal Affairs Agents featured on this show. Tax payers are paying the price for a corrupt system that retaliates against those who do their jobs and speak out against civil rights violations.

The EEOC is currently investigating the department based on discrimination and retaliation but the Department of Justice needs to open an investigation regarding the civil rights violations of the inmates. I have records and recordings to support my claims. After filing my complaint against the department I experienced retaliation to the point of a death threat on my work voice mail and ultimately being disciplined and fired.

Can someone please help. I had to leave the area for my safety and have been living off credit cards. I cannot afford rent and we are listed as homeless. We have had to move every few weeks and I've been doing all the hearings over the phone on my own.

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