Issue 19 - May/June 2008

Lockdown Series 4


6 x 52 MINS In High Definition

Popular "prison series Lockdown returns for a fourth outing. To date, three episodes have been confirmed. Three more will follow in this season.


1. Stateville Correctional, Chicago, Illinois
Built in 1925, and aging badly, Stateville Correctional is a dangerous place filled with dangerous men, nearly all serving 20 years minimum. Half are in for murder and another quarter are serving time for violent crimes. For many, the thing that makes life bearable are family, loved ones, girl friends, and friends in general – but it’s a struggle. Simkatyah Winfield is a drug dealer doing 60 years for murder – but he’s also devoted dad. Yet how can he really act as a good parent behind bars, especially now that his 17-year-old daughter is pregnant? It’s a question that obsesses him. Terry Dibble, a convicted murderer doing 45 years, doesn’t have any kids. But he’s in love with a young woman in the free world, introduced to him by his mom. But Dibble’s just been moved north to Stateville, several hundred miles away from them both. His only hope: convincing a judge in an upcoming hearing to transfer him back to his old prison, which is far closer. Some inmates look beyond the gates of the prison to sustain them. Other inmates, some gay inmates in particular, are trying just to be themselves behind bars, without getting punished for it. Gregory Crowder is an openly gay inmate who’s inside for murder. He’s already had bad times behind bars. While an inmate at Cook County Jail in Chicago, he was beaten and raped by three corrections officers. In Stateville, Crowder’s problem is finding a cellmate who is not vocally, violently homophobic. Guiding us through Stateville is 16-year veteran Sgt. Baldwin who expresses the importance of the outside world to inmates and how it keeps them sane. It turns out family, romance, and friendship are the things that make life go around, even among “the worst of the worst.”

2. First 90
Prison is tough, but some say getting out is even tougher. Most inmates leave prison with less than $200 in hand and must find a job and a bed before the money runs out. Crime, gangs, and drugs tempt ex-cons struggling to make good, and all it takes is one bad decision for them to land right back behind bars. Over 50 per cent of all ex-felons will return to prison within a year of release. After serving fourteen years, 37-year-old Donovon Green has just been released onto the mean streets of L.A. County. Green entered the penal system a gangbanger, armed robber, and violent felon, but he believes he’s undergone a transformation behind bars. Green’s eager to get a paying job and, most importantly, prove himself to his 16-year-old daughter Eva. Unlike most parolees, Donovon Green is going to actually have a place to live when he gets out – with his mom. His family is loving, but Donovon feels responsible for abandoning them 14 years earlier. At the same time, Green has very high expectations for his life outside – maybe too high. Green’s never been on the Internet or even used a cell phone. And with carjacking and armed robbery on his life’s resume, who is going to hire him? Donovon wants to put the gangbanging life behind him, but if he can’t find work, he may be reduced to stealing to survive. Another crime would mean a third strike on his record, landing Green back in the slammer… this time, for good. For the remainder of his life, but especially for these first crucial 90 days, Green has to walk the straight and narrow. He has to learn be a model citizen – and fast. And that won’t be easy.

3. Rehab/Wayne County Jail, Detroit, Michigan
Detroit, Michigan. Ranked twelfth for rape, second for violent crimes, and number one for murder, it easily wins the title America’s most dangerous city. So how do you stop crime in the nation’s most crime-ridden metropolis? With jails, of course. Putting the bad guys behind bars. But what if there are too many bad guys and too few cells – and they all keep coming back. The Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, which runs Detroit’s jails, has embarked on an ambitious, innovative program to use jail time to fight crime in a new way – by rehabilitating some of the city’s most persistent repeat offenders. It all takes place behind bars, in the confines of the Wayne County Jail. Using detox, intensive therapy, and counselling, Wayne County Jail targets drug-addicted prostitutes, women thieves, drug dealers and other female felons, and men who beat their wives and girlfriends for serious help. The rehab treatments last for weeks, sometimes months. The women’s stories are horrifying and heart-rending – while the wife beaters work out their demons in sessions marked with rage and confrontation. After completing the jail programs, the inmates then spend time in community halfway houses. This is when the inevitable happens. Many inmates jump ship and disappear back into the depths of the Motor City. But for Wayne County Jail officials, it doesn’t mean failure. In fact, they expect inmates to be lured back into drugs and crime. They have a special 20-person team called the Tether Unit. Their job it is to go out onto the streets to collar these lapsed offenders. Once caught, these prisoners will be given a choice: go through the program again – or do hard time. It works: many of the prisoners eventually give up the criminal life for good. Dedicated to breaking the cycle of crime, Wayne County Jail is giving Detroit’s felons a chance to remake their lives – and help, step by step, to turn their ruined neighbourhoods around.