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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

In two thousand one. He was found guilty of running. A massive drug ring was a hundred and fifty years. That's right one hundred fifty years. Our cameras weren't allowed inside the parole hearing room about an hour later. Sti Family walked out. I man I'm all former inmate. Johnny Dean released on Parole from Louisiana's Angola prison earlier this this year after a long battle to get out from under one hundred fifty year sentence for drug violations and that brings us back to Matthew Charles and we met earlier Matthew got out of prison in January after more than two decades behind bars on drug and gun charges a beneficiary of the newly-enacted first step act a first step toward prison reform but getting out itself is often just the first step of a long and difficult journey and here to talk about right now is Matthew Charles Matthew great to have you with us you. You and I spoke when you were locked up. I spoke right after you're elected that scene. We just showed look familiar to you yesterday with moment of freedom what what were you thinking that moment about your future from walking out. I was thinking about just being back reunited with my family and friends but the fact that I was able to walk out just was breath fresh air by all kinds ends. You were model prisoner. Your story got a lot of attention a yet. You've found yourself where a lot of guys found themselves. Things didn't always come easy. What was the biggest struggle struggle for. Let me was housing and employment all right. Well thank. You and we're glad things are working better for you all right. Let's bring our next excess. John Peacock served more than fifteen years on manslaughter turned his life around and is now the executive director of Hudson Link for higher education in prison providing education education and life skills to incarcerated men and women and helping them Reenter Society Lawrence Bartley spent twenty seven years in prison. He's now the director of the publication news inside aside from the Martial Project A nonprofit news organization focusing on the US criminal justice system Lawrence and Sean both did time here at sing sing and that brings this to Mike Capra Michael Capra who for the past seven years has been the superintendent of this facility after a long and impressive career in law enforcement great to see all of you superintendent. Thank you for for hosting is here. you job here as the Superintendent essentially that to keep the late on make sure everyone's safe to make sure your employees get home home safe at the end of the day but you realized that wasn't enough and then programs were necessary. What do you find the more programs more occupational things that you can do. How does that a change the environment well I think as a system we certainly have decline in the amount of inmates that we have you see the men that are here today. These guys who have known for many years this year have all been part of this movement called voices from within which is just a bunch of guys who really WanNa think about tomorrow think about their children's coming in they didn't want them to file the same same steps that they have filed number one and also to make an impact on the inmates who are here to give them hope and to give them a positive role model to look for so so that our system is a little bit safer. I was surprised when I was on my last visit here talking to the guys and they they WANNA be part of the change on the when they are on the outside part of the change. They all want to be part of their think tank group of people. If you ask these guys right now how many have a college education right now most of them are going to raise their hands and so when they to get involved in looking towards what can we do the change the culture inside and out and making this inside of the silliest safer place there so much involved and they have have some fantastic ideas and we're putting those those ideas to work so attention and showing you came here when you were sixteen yes. I was arrested on sixteen in left when I was thirty four and how did this place change for the better. I know it sounds crazy but I lived in nine maximum security prisons over sixteen years. I never met award until I got to sing. Sing and Brian Fisher was awarded time would walk the halls and talk to us. Hey are you in school why you're not in the in really push us and I remember like it was yesterday probably eight years ago you said it to me. Hey what if we did more and it's just not a normal question from Superintendent Imagine Charity Prison to think about doing more here like college and music and theater and an introspective work to make dig deeper into what causes the be here in the first place and Lawrence. You've been out what about a year fifteen months months. He's twenty seven years in the system nine of them here here. Yes what was it like stepping the outset. It was wonderful. You know I've been dreaming about my release. Since the first day I slept on a prison kyw went on finally got the opportunity to get out you know it was like the movies have watched when you go into the future and all this technology you see and I was i. I was marble byles. I wow this is super. Greek you know so in doing that and and when I finally got the opportunity for Masha project to get some gainful implement employment. I didn't think that I was special but I- intentionally went out to do exceptionally well because as I was doing it for the men behind me. It was talking about the men. Come up till you walker. Let's talk about the men behind you. You know these what are you. What are you tell them. What do you tell them about life on the outside outside has everything in you dreamed of everything we always dream it being as exactly what it's like but what we spend all that time in creating those programs rams that came out of our head and every step of the way we are not getting paid for it. We just toiled through it. We argued throughout all of it is worth it because those skills are transferable transferable one outside and if you do that you sit the ball high and not only doing it for yourself and your family you doing it for. Everyone went to prison uniform in the country that just wants to our as easy. It's very hard is difficult but I intentionally denied a difficulty because I can't afford to fail because of offense offense. They all fail my children fail. I can't do it and what about how society looks at you. We talked with John. About checking the box you get. You're a felon felony. I mean people ask you. Why were you here and that's going to be difficult compensation. It is a difficult conversation but I like. I think that my character speaks for itself. I am not who I was seventeen years old when I committed a crime if fact changed when I was still in my teens and I have have to suffer through a decade of incarceration when I wasn't that same individual anymore so when I'm on the outside if people look down on me because because I'm incarcerated I tell myself that's none of my business. That's their perception has nothing to do with the way I'm GonNa live my life all right it back with John Legend as well as personal reflections and final thoughts and what we've talked about here today when we return in a moment the we're back at sing sing sing with John Legend for some final thing I keep thinking of is the figure that ninety five percent of those locked up are going to get out some day. They're going to be on our streets and our neighborhoods with that in my what do you want to leave. Leave our viewers with. I think the key is that we see each other's humanity. I think this nation has a legacy of treating certain people like they were subhuman. I think slavery was part of the reason that that has been part of our national culture but we have to see everybody Black Brown whatever they are whatever community they come from as part of our national community think their humanity think of their families think of their emotions think of their possibilities for redemption and structure our system to account for that and every dollar we spend on prisons. Every dollar we spend on punishment is dollars. We can't spend on education on health care on on the things that makes our community stronger and let's continue to invest in things that make us stronger and stop investing so much in punishment John. You're obviously a huge important part of this conversation and so we thank you much of our conversation. Today was framed by the many questions I wrestle with during my brief time visiting behind bars and Angola prison including one that I wrote down I wrote could any of us under the right circumstances. Make a mistake that would take away our freedom and then what where do accountability and punishment and Rehabilitation and redemption begin and can they're truly be justice for all on both sides of these walls. It's a long long conversation certainly longer than one hour allows but it's one. I'm dedicated to further exploring. I want to thank John Legend Loretta Lynch and all of our panelists as well as might capper operate his team here at Sing Sing Correctional Facility for hosting this important event for all of us at NBC News. Thank you for watching and so on it. Hey it's Chris as from MSNBC every day. I come to the office and we make a television show an everyday. I think to myself there's so much more. I want to talk about and so this podcast it's called. Why is this happening and the whole idea behind it is to get to the root of the things that we see Lee out every day. They're driven by by big ideas each week. I sit down with a person uniquely suited to explain why this is happening new episodes of wise this happening every Tuesday. Listen for free wherever you get your podcasts..