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tv   This Is Life With Lisa Ling  CNN  November 27, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm PST

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are, but food and ingredients and some pretty amazing visual inspiration. >> if you could choose any one of these dresses, is there one you have seen that you just covet? >> that's pretty with a little simple train. >> a week from today, this 44-year-old is marrying the love of her life, but it won't be a storybook wedding. >> what's jerome going to be wearing? >> he has to wear the same jump suit they wear. he won't be able to wear a suit. >> her fiance, jerome lives
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halfway around the country in a maximum security prison. >> i hurt her so many 250i78s but even in my darkest days, she knew my heart. >> prison love sounds like something ripped from the tab lights and criminals and adoring fans. but the headlines are far from the whole story. >> did think you would have someone like shelby in your? >> absolutely not. i didn't think i deserved it. >> to commit your to somebody. >> it's a struggle, but we work through it. >> tonight i am meeting felons and the women who committed their lives to them. to hear love stories that defy the odds and witness a union in the unlikeliest of places. >> in a million years, you could have never told me i
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>> picture this. a woman swept off her feet by a man behind bars. it reads like an affair splashed across the evening news. charles manson set to wed behind bars to a 26-year-old woman. >> eric's wife began correspondence with him after watching the first trial on television. >> scott peterson convicted of killing his pregnant wife has received hundreds of letters
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from women while sitting on death row in california. >> to go behind the wall and look beyond the chi shays and you might find a love story as genuine as it is unconventional. >> i have never believed in love at first sight, but it was love at first sight. i think my purpose in this life is to be with her. >> at pendle con correctional facility in indian a jerome is nearly a decade into his sentence, serving time for burglary. >> is this your cell in the corner? >> this is where i'm at. >> and yearning fist his love time love, takita. >> look at all the photos. >> this is what i look at daily. it gives me joy to look at her face.
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>> she is a wonderful woman. does it ever make you sad to look at these photos? >> no. this is where i receive my joy. when i'm having a sad day, this is where i retreat. i could look at her all day. we had a beautiful time when we were together. and the bad times. when it was good it was good, when it was bad, it was bad. >> jerome's downward spiral began in his teens. raised by a single mom in the indiana suburbs, he began experimenting with drugs. first marijuana and alcohol and then cocaine. he dropped out of high school, worked a string of odd jobs and spent his nights getting high. >> i was unstable. that's the only place i found peace. under the influence at a nightclub somewhere. everybody i knew did the same thing. the only stable person in my
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life was takita. >> jerome and takita first locked eyes in a mall in 1996 at a time when both of them were struggling to get back on their feet. >> what was going on in your life when you met her? >> i just lost a job. i was in a bad state. bad time. she just caught my eye. she was pregnant. the guy left her. she needed someone to show her some love. >> in the 20 years since that first meeting, much has changed. despite jerome's incarceration and takita's move to arizona six years ago, they kept the spark alive. >> can we see the videos that you two exchanged? >> they stay connected through kiosks to let inmates exchange videos with loved ones.
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>> that's why arizona is arizona. it's so beautiful. >> i love you. >> you can see her throughout the day. >> all throughout the day. ♪ >> every 30-second clip is a lifeline. videos keep jerome in touch with her and the world outside prison walls. and videos recorded by jerome -- >> happy valentine's day, babe. i hope you are having a wonderful day. >> they allow her to hold out hope. >> what was that? i love you. >> you don't give up on someone you love. even though we had trials and tribulations and he had a problem, i couldn't get him off
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of my heart. >> taquita hasn't seen jerome in six years, but she is making the trip to indiana. in five days behind prison walls, they are getting married. >> i'm super excited about our day. i can't wait to call you my wife. >> there are no solid statistics on how many inmates marry while locked up, but marriages take place across the country. most marry partners they knew before they were incarcerate and others find love on websites where women and men logon to meet pen pals. some couples connect by chance. just outside of providence, shelby's phone rings morning, noon, and night.
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on the other end of the line is cody, a man convicted of first-degree murder. >> i have a prepaid call from an inmate. >> some folks say he is not like everybody else. he's in prison. >> hi, honey. >> he's still a human being. the prison thing for me is not a deal breaker. >> as a teenager, cody got involved in drugs and after a crack deal went a wry, he made local news by setting fire to the dealer's home. undenounced to cody, an elderly man was sleeping inside and died from his injuries. he was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. when he met shelby he was five years into his time and shelby was getting a ph.d. in education. >> i was really always drawn to working with vulnerable
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populations and i felt connected to the underdog. >> why did that resonate with you? >> because of my personal experience. home life was challenging when i was young. my dad suffered from addiction to alcohol and drugs. when he was drunk, there was lots of yelling and things breaking. i used school as an escape and i excelled in academics and i could encourage that in the lives of other people and empower them to find their freedom through education. >> years ago, shelby started teaching writing part-time in rhode island's prisons. cody was one of her students. >> do you remember cody well from your class? >> great writer. would always do his work. diligent. most students were. he was not really somebody who shouted out to me.
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>> shelby said it was after she was no longer teaching at the prison that cody made his move. when he got his cousin to ask for her number on facebook. through letters, cards and phone calls, their friendship blossomed into something more. >> he has people make me these beautiful cards. >> that's pretty. cute. it's really thoughtful stuff that most guys don't do for women. >> it's stilly stuff, but to me it's tender and i appreciate it. >> after three months of nonstop communication, cody popped the question. >> he sent me a ring and a dozen roses. >> did you need time to think about it? >> no, no. >> you were certain? >> absolutely. >> have you had a lot of long-term relationships?
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>> a handful, but nobody have i had that depth of communication with. we talk about our pasts, our beliefs, our visions for the future and everything aligns. the depth of the intimaciy that is not about physical int massy is something i have not experienced. >> he's in prison for murder. >> who would be comfortable knowing that somebody they care for is doing time for killing a human being, but he is still capable of transformation. >> do you believe he is transformed? >> absolutely. >> cody can call shelby once an hour for 20 minutes at a time. the prison denied a request to film with cody so the calls are the only chance to get to know him. >> hi, honey. i'm here with lisa.
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>> hi, cody. how are you doing? >> i'm doing good. >> i wonder, what do you love about shelby? >> everything. the cooked pinkied and the laugh she has and how she cares about me and making me feel complete. >> did you have a crush on her from the moment you saw her? >> absolutely. i was in love. >> when you think about the situation, it's crazy. we can't always determine when the connections are going to happen. >> i love you, sweetheart. >> i love you too. >> codey and shelby want to marry despite the soonest cody can go free is 2026. other obstacles stand in their way. a century old law and incident
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from shelby's past. p is for permission to indulge. o is for out of this world. l is for loving the seasonal cuisine. a is for access to everything, including the aisle. r is for reclining in tailor-made bedding. and i, must be dreaming. s... so long, jet lag. polaris, from united. ♪ ♪ ♪ how else do you think he gets around so fast?
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marz, taquita is on her feet keeping herself busy as a hairstylist. >> the curls you don't want real tight. you just want them straightened and bumped on the end. real cute. >> the past is always in the back of her mind. >> i was born in indianapolis the baby of six. all my sisters and brothers are older than me. i started out a loner. i wanted to be connected in a way where somebody showed me they cared for me. >> how would you define the relationships you had with other men before you met jerome? >> young. and dumb. absolutely. when i met jerome, i was pregnant. i was scared. he was just like a knight in shining armor at the time. he embraced my pregnancy. he was so kind. he was so compassionate.
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no one else had cared for me like that. i was a very lonely person. he came in and i wasn't lonely anymore. >> 20 years ago, jerome and taquita moved in together just two weeks after their first encounter. what first teamed like a perfect match eventually began to fray. >> slowly things were changing. he would leave and not come back two or three days at a time. i realized something was going on. he admitted it. it was a drug problem. >> jerome's disappearances were part of a larger pattern of drug addiction and petty crime. over the years, he was arrested for receiving stolen property and other misdemeanors. in 1998, two years into his relationship, jerome was convicted of burglary. when he got out of prison, he vowed to stay clean.
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and taquita took a leap of faith and agreed to marry him. >> i thought the struggles with the drugs were over. he got a job and we were happy. then they laid him off. he would get depressed because he wanted to provide. it was really shortly after all of that that he went back into the streets again. >> jerome's infractions caught up to him in october of 2007. unarm and high, he broke into an antique shop and stole jewelry and $300 in cash. at the trial, they argued as a repeat offender, prison was the only place he belonged and the judge handed down an extreme sentence. >> it was in the newspaper. man gets 50 years. the release date was 2032. long time. that's when i went to the pastor
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of the church and he was like that's a long time. that's terms of leaving. you can let go. >> was it hard to ask for a divorce? >> yeah. yeah. i still saw him as an old man rocking in the chair next to me when we were in our 70s. i never wanted to give up on him. i had to let go. i wanted to go where no one knew my name. i came to arizona and started all over again. >> taquita made a new life for herself in the southwest and went back to school. she started her own business and discovered a landscape where she could heal. >> i didn't think the desert would be beautiful, but it's beautiful. when i go to the top of the rocks, i can breathe up there. i can free my mind. and the heat warms my body to
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where i don't feel the pain. >> 1700 miles away in indiana, jerome had to make a choice of his. stick to his old ways or start over. >> when i first got in here, all i could think of was the things i had done. that haubted me. that tortured me. as time went on, i got my ged and completed substance abuse classes and started to feel l e like -- >> nowadays, jerome is a model inmate. he has been trusted to mentor offenders in the mental health unit. >> jerome is a good mentor around here. a lot of times they are acting
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out and all of that. they don't want to talk to authority figures. >> he's a good guy. >> it's not just the prison that noticed the change. >> can you hear me? >> despite the divorce and years apart, jerome and taquita never lost contact. she feels certain of jerome's transformation. so much so that she is willing to give him another chance. >> how did he ask you to marry him? >> he did not. i asked him. one night we were talking about the phone and it was a real feeling that came over me. i had a whisper saying that's your guy. i said you know what, i would like to take that game back.
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i never wanted to give that name away. can i have the name back? >> i'm sitting there shaking inside. i have been waiting on that. >> i think i'm going to have to do two suitcases. that dress, i don't want to smash it. >> it doesn't stand a chance. i'm sure your curves will get it right. >> before they can take the next step, they have to meet the prison's guidelines. >> choosing to make that person your number one is different than getting wrapped up in the emotions of love. >> at pendleton, inmates hoping to wed must take four marriage counseling classes led by matt peterson. >> i try to get them to go into the process with the eyes wide open. i have been married and divorced times. i kind of know what not to do and i'm trying to save them from
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going through that. >> keeping a marriage alive can be a challenge under the best of circumstances. imagine when phone calls are monitored and physical contact is highly restricted. >> you had a conversation and she said i'm sorry it got a little heated. >> he helps the man navigate the obstacles. >> at some point in a relationship you have to miss your partner. say we don't talk for two days and i say something nice. it doesn't have the same effect. >> i can talk to my woman every day. every hour. i enjoy talking to her and i enjoy laughing with her. >> having the deep meaningful conversations where you are both vulnerable builds intimacy in the relationship. >> the final of a four-class series before they get married and i can see how what they learned will help them in the relationships. i think every man should take
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the class. tomorrow taquita flies to see jerome for the first time in six years. the day after that will be their wedding. they pinned hopes on a shared dream that jerome will be joining her soon in arizona. that's a big if. jerome is appealing his sentence. it's up to the courts to shorten his time. >> he is confident that if he presents this case to the judge that the judge is going to say okay, you are out. his confidence is inspiring my confidence. >> what if he is denied? >> if he's denied, i'm willing to ride this and see what happens. it's a decision that my heart is making. my soul is making. i'm following my heart. people say,
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>> in this country freedom to marry is a civil right. some inmates are denied that liberty by a law that is over 100 years old. >> the system makes cody as if he is dead and can't love or have a relationship. i just disagree with the
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philosophy entirely. >> rhode island is one of two states in the nation that enforce it is the civil death statute. inmates are dead to society. it's a law that shelby and cody are fighting with the aclu and the attorney. >> me about this statute. >> it only applies to inmates with life sentences. it prevents them from having personal property in prison and what it says is those inmates with life sentences cannot be married. marriage is a fundamental right. what we have is a statute that restricts the rights too much. >> according to sonia, until recently, they were not endorsing the statute. >> my research shows somewhere along the lines of seven or eight inmates who had life sentences. as of the last year, they have
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been enforcing the statute. prior to that time, they were not. we could speculate as to whether that had something to do with shelby. >> the department of creeks refused to comment while the acluacl ur ac aclu's lawsuit is ongoing. they are using the law to keep them apart because of a chain of event set off by a letter received by another inmate in one of her classes. >> this letter started i think you are hot and want to pursue something with her, but i had no connection with that student. i decided that i'm going to respond and say kind of a thanks but no thanks. i thought i responded appropriately and professionally. >> the inmate who wrote was all right on the prison's radar. he had a history of attempting escape. on top of that, the prison said shelby violated a central rule. it's forbidden for those working
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at the facility to correspond without permission. a rule shelby claims she was never told. >> in the training to teach in correctional facilities, were there rules about corresponding with inmates? >> i never received any rules about corresponding with folks inside. but internal affairs said what you were supposed to have done was alert authorities because you didn't do what you were supposed to do. >> three months after she lost her job, when she tried to visit him for the 50 time, she learned how serious the prison was. >> we were chatting for ten minutes and a correctional officer came over to us and said you have to leave. so we had a 10-empty visit in
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july 2014. >> you never have been able to see him since that day? >> that's right. >> it's hard to see and it's hard to get the smile on her face. >> i know you love shelby, but is it worth it? >> yes, it's worth it. she's my freedom in every sense of the word and don't mean just walking outside of the door. >> since the first and only visit, they asked for permission to see each other. each time the prison denied them, claiming shelby acted in ways that posed a security risk, an accusation she denied. while shelby is banned from the facility, we are not. because i'm from out of state, i
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can go in and visit an inmate without getting a background check. i'm going to try to go in and meet cody. shelby and cody rely on visitations like this one. when friends and family visit, she parks across the street, waiting for them to bring news from inside. >> it took a few minutes and i was there and he was a very, very good-looking guy. i also saw the tattoo, shelby, on his arm. you haven't seen that. he said if you are going to see shelby, tell her i love her and i will call her tonight. >> thank you. >> it must be bitter sweet. i'm sure you are happy that i got to see him, but the fact that you can't must be hard.
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>> yeah. >> he's up for parole. that's a daunting amount of time. i'm concerned you are wasting your life waiting. >> that's when a relationship is the only thing that gives somebody worth. that's not the only thing i drive my happiness and success by. my relationship is another journey. as time goes by, there will be new challenges. i'm not frightened by it. >> there are a lot of things to admire about shelby and cody's happy. they spend so much time communicating. some of the best things to me about a relationship are being in the same room with someone and not speaking at all. or being able to watch your partner be an incredible parent
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to your children. she is only 30 years old and i just wonder if five, ten years down the line, she will have that longing. hey, i'm paul. and i used to ask if you could hear me now with verizon... not anymore. i'm with sprint now because guess what? it's 2016 and every network is great. in fact, sprint's reliability is now within 1% of verizon. and sprint saves you 50% on most verizon, at&t and t-mobile rates. so, i switched to sprint. and millions more have too. can you hear that? (vo) don't let a 1% difference cost you twice as much. for people with hearing loss, switch to sprint and save 50% today. visit previously treated withd noplatinum-based chemotherapy,
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on a february morning past dawn in pendleton, indiana, chaplain matt peterson is getting to work preparing to meet with students of his counseling class. this is a class that the men and women take together and it will be the first time they will have seen each other in six years. >> taquita arrived yesterday and entered the facility with little more than her id and a heart full of anticipation. on the other side of the wall, jerome is shaken down for contraband. for taquita, the moments before the reunion seem endless. >> i will kiss him and hug him. i'm so excited.
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it's overwhelming. >> i love you, baby. >> i miss you. >> you are beautiful. >> in attendance for the class are jerome and taquita and john and his fiance, linda. in the midst of excitement, the chaplain has hard truths to
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share about maintaining intimacy behind bars. >> keep your communication healthy and positive. when we say something negative to the one we love, it hurts. how many positive comments do you think it takes to counteract one negative? >> a lot. >> 20. >> it could be invaluable. marriage is where one partner is incarcerated are significantly more likely to end in divorce. >> this is a very humanizing results. >> he misses the phone call and relationships are breaking down. >> everyone we have spoken with are so optimistic. do you thinks that sustainable? >> they're labeled as the
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ex-cop. society doesn't look favorable on that. it's loving someone through the good times and bad. >> taquita and jerome have a long road ahead of them. they plan to wed tomorrow. jerome returns to his cell house. they return to the house where she and jerome used to live as husband and wife. >> is it that on the left. >> it looks so different now. >> i get the feeling it's not comfortable to be back here. >> it makes me stomach tight because it relives those moments again. turning the corners. >> this is the neighborhood where jerome would vanish for days at a time, moving from one drug house to another.
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>> he was gone for 30 days. that hurt so bad. >> did you search for him? >> all the time. dark streets, dark alleys. words cannot explain those feelings that i had when i got out of my car and looked for him. i knew he had a sickness and i felt like i could save him. >> how did you feel about the nights she went out looking for you? >> it tears me up. i never wanted her to see that side of me. that's where the distance came. that part of my life is over. i will not let her down. >> when you come back here and you relive a lot of these painful memories, does it make you at all question getting back together with him and marrying him? >> i know sometimes i may be thinking that he owes me my life back. jerome owes me my life back.
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any time i think of that, you are losing things. losing my husband. i always had to lose the things that meant the most to me. always. i know he loves me. that's what brings the tears of joy, you know? i have those as well. >> taquita has made so many sacrifices and tomorrow she is going to be marrying jerome inside of a prison. it's another very big sacrifice that she is making. i hope it's worth it. what time is it? it's go time. come on. let's go, let's go, let's go. woooo hoooo!! yeah!! i feel like i went to bed an hour ago.
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in a motel room on the outskirts of town, taquita is preparing for a new beginning. in less than an hour she and jerome will be married. this is the culmination of an
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over 20-year relationship. one filled with a lot of love and also with a lot of pain. inside this maximum security prison they will commit their lives together. >> your dress is pretty. >> thank you so much. [ buzzer ] >> it's probably the shoes. >> the prison allows no more than six guests for a wedding. two of jerome's fellow inmates are invited along with taquita's friend and sons from previous relationships. >> how are you feeling? >> like a palm tree in the desert. >> you're ready? >> i'm ready. absolutely.
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♪ >> wow, you're beautiful. >> you ready? >> yes, i am. wow. mm. >> the ceremony is held in an attorney booth in the visitation room. officiated by chaplain peterson. >> good afternoon. we are joined together today for the marriage of jerome and taquita. >> despite the humble circumstances, it's as moving a wedding as any i have attended. >> i jerome take you taquita. >> i jerome take you taquita.
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>> to be my wife. >> to be my wife. >> i taquita. >> take you jerome. >> take you jerome. >> to be my husband. >> to be my husband -- again. >> jerome, please take taquita's ring. put the ring on her finger. >> it fits. >> love you. >> i love you. wow. >> we're together. >> the marriage process is a human process. it takes a strong family to make that transition back into society. to become a better person. it can bring love and light to an otherwise dark place. >> ready?
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one, two, three. >> for two short hours jerome and taquita can linger in the visiting room. it's the closest thing they will get to a honeymoon for a long time. when the visit is up they go their separate ways. >> i love you. >> i love you, too. bye. >> and when they will be together next is uncertain. if jerome's appeal for early release is turned down it could be decades before he and taquita are reunited for good. you just got married and you're going back to your cell. how do you feel? >> quite naturally i would love to go home with my wife. we stand firm that a blessing will come our way and be patient. >> so, married lady, how do you feel? >> looking in his eyes i felt
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like 20 years ago, you know? i felt like i got my man back. >> what was it like to leave him? >> devastating. very devastating. i didn't want to leave him, you know. but as soon as i hear his voice on the phone it will be joyful all over again. i'll just keep that hope. >> announcer: "this is life with lisa lin" brought to you bipolaris. a sleep experience like no other. i wouldn't. l is for layers of luxury. a is for alll the way back. r is for read my mind. and i... can't see a thing. s... see you in the morning. polaris, from united.
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let's just get a sandwich or something. "or something"? you don't just graduate from medical school, "or something." and we don't just pull smoked chicken, bake fresh foccacia and hand-slice avocado. there's nothing "or something" about it.
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in rhode island, cody and
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shelby's relationship endures. >> hello? >> and their fight to marry continues. >> come here. >> trying to get all the attention? >> yeah. she's sitting on my lap now. so she is getting all the attention. >> their lawsuit against the rhode island department of corrections is ongoing. until the courts make a decision cody and shelby are in him bo. >> when you think about your future with cody what does it look like? >> i imagine us living somewhere in the woods, somewhere quieter with the dogs. >> so you're going to the law library and do some work? >> yeah. >> i'm not going to ro manhattan size it. some days are more difficult than others. however, i have learned value in having patience for the things that matter. he matters. i'll talk to you later. >> bye. >> bye.
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>> taquita's back in arizona. jerome is still behind bars in indiana. >> how are you? >> all right, beautiful. how was your day? >> but even with half the country between them, they are inseparable. >> look at my husband. i got you full screen. before i didn't understand how women married somebody in prison. i used to call it prison groupies. i have turned into a prison groupie. can you see that? boom, baby. >> i'm going to show you what the mountain looks like today. i will see you soon. >> no doubt. >> we are older now, wiser. we still love each other. as old as i am and i have never felt different. it's time to follow what i know
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which is we belong together. look at that sun. that's what you are to me. i love you, sweetie. on the island of cuba. >> this is the cuba i grew up with. >> man kind teeters on the brink of therm nuclear war. >> the missile crisis, duck and cover. cover yourselves with wet newspaper. we're all going to die. >> the flames of crisis burn far stronger. fanned by the bitter tirades of fidel castro. >> andhi


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