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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  November 20, 2014 8:00am-9:01am PST

8:00 am 11/20/14 11/20/14 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica this is democracy now. historic event. when all is said and done, this snowfall -- it will make all sorts of records. that is saying something in western new york and buffalo. >> six to seven feet of snow has already fallen on parts of buffalo this week and another two to three feet is expected today. at least seven people have been killed. record cold temperatures
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have been recorded this country. this comes just after nasa reported last month was the warmest october on record. we will look at the link between extreme weather and climate change. then to the shocking case of mark defriest. in 1979, his father died and left him a set of tools. mark picked them up before they were probated. the teenager was arrested for stealing and sentenced to four years in prison. 34 years later, he is still there. 27 of those years in solitary confinement. >> a man who is a notorious prisoner in the state of florida, probably a notorious prisoner across the country. the only way he is ever going to get out is, in my opinion, because of his mental health status and that finally, society starts to address the issues of
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the mentally ill in prison. >> "the life and mind of mark defriest." a new film about the case. we will speak with the director gabriel london. as ferguson awaits the grand jury's decision in the michael brown's shooting, we will talk to attorney bryan stevenson, author of, "just mercy: a story of justice and redemption." povertythe opposite of isn't wealth. the opposite of poverty is justice. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president obama is unveiling today his long-awaited executive action that will protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. obama previewed his plan in a video statement wednesday night. that ourody agrees immigration system is broken. unfortunately, washington has allowed the problem to fester
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for too long. so what i'm going to be laying out is the things i can do my lawful authority as president to make the system work better, even as i continue to work with congress and encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem. >> obama will announce his plan in a prime-time address from the white house tonight. he'll then speak at a las vegas high school on friday where he laid out his plan for conference of immigration reform two years ago. the executive actions will reportedly not provide any formal, lasting immigration status. but many immigrants will receive work permits, which will give them social security numbers and allow them to work legally under their own names. another key component will prevent the deportation of parents whose children are u.s. citizens or legal permanent residents. but it will not provide relief to farm workers or to the parents of undocumented children, even those children who qualified for deferred action under president obama's executive order in 2012.
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in another decision that falls short of immigrant rights advocates goals those who , receive permits under his executive order will not be eligible for health care benefits under the affordable care act. it appears that decision was made as a nod to right-wing opposition, as many legal experts say obama has the authority to extend health benefits. obama's action sets up the likelihood of a major showdown with republicans, who have vowed to block it when they take control of congress next year. president obama's announcement comes as a troubled new mexico detention center for central american migrants will be closed. the department of homeland security says it will shut down the artesia facility by the end of the year. artesia has held hundreds of women and children from central america fleeing violence and danger in their home countries. you can go to our website to see a report from producer renee feltz on the poor conditions and lack of due
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process for the migrants held there. colombia's farc rebels have agreed to release an army general captured over the weekend. the release of general rubén darío alzate and four others could pave the way for a resumption of peace talks with the colombian government, which were due to begin this week. the deal was brokered by mediators from cuba and norway. the israeli government has resumed destroying the homes of palestinians accused of involvement in recent attacks on israelis. on wednesday, the israeli forces demolished a home in occupied east jerusalem belonging to the extended family of a driver who ran his car into two pedestrians last month. these really human rights group says the home demolitions are illegal and immoral. the move came as part of a new crackdown vowed by israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu following the killing of five israelis in a jerusalem
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synagogue. thousands of people attended the victims funerals in jerusalem on wednesday. as it resumes destroying palestinian homes, the israeli government has announced the construction of new homes in its illegal settlements. on wednesday, the israeli government announced a tender for 78 new homes in east jerusalem. in a statement, the state department said "we reiterate our clear and consistent opposition to construction activity in east jerusalem." the u.s. has carried out new airstrikes on the syrian border with turkey. a pentagon statement claims the attack killed two militants from fourthra front and a strike now cut a groups in september. the u.s. also claims to have hit a course on group storage facility but residents say at least six italians were wounded in an adjacent home. a new report meanwhile says syrian government airstrikes have escalated over the past
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month. according to the syrian observatory for human rights, the regime of bashar al-assad has launched over 1500 strikes since october 20 the killing nearly 400 civilians and wounding at least 1500 others. the al-assadin regime airstrikes comes just weeks after the us-led bombing campaign targeting the islamic state began in september. protests continue in ferguson, missouri ahead of the grand jury's decision on whether to indict officer darren wilson for the killing of michael brown. on wednesday, demonstrators braved sub-zero temperatures to rally outside the ferguson police department. speaking here in new york, the civil rights activist al sharpton criticized missouri governor jay nixon for declaring a state of emergency in the absence of any unrest. >> it is very tense. it is going to take -- i'm talking about ferguson.
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i think it is very tense. i think the role of the parents and leadership is important to keep a tone there. i also think a lot of the young activists that have been marching and keeping things going have been very responsible and nonviolent, and we must support them. but there's a lot of tension out there, and i do not think it is helpful when the governor lectures and does not have a balance. >> the grand jury's decision on whether to charge officer wilson is expected any day. a leading u.s. nursing group has come out in support of a navy medical officer at guantanamo bay who this year became the first known prison official to refuse to force-feed hunger-striking detainees. the unidentified male nurse now faces potential disciplinary charges that could ultimately lead to a discharge and loss of benefits. in a letter addressed to navy officials, the american nurses association said -- "the military setting does not
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change the nurse's ethical commitments or standards." several major media corporations have cancelled projects with the entertainer and comedian bill cosby over new claims of rape dating back more than 40 years. on wednesday, nbc announced it was cancelling a pilot deal with cosby while the streaming-service netflix said it would postpone an upcoming special. the network "tv land" has also pulled reruns of "the cosby show" from its schedule. cosby previously settled a case with a woman in 2004 who alleged he drugged and raped her. at the time, the plaintiff, andrea constand, found 13 other women to testify about similar assaults. but in recent weeks, two more women have come forward, bringing the total to at least 15. in an interview with "entertainment tonight" on tuesday, former model janice
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dickinson became the sixth woman to go on the record, saying cosby raped her in 1982. >> in my room, he had given me wine and a pill. the next morning, i woke up and i wasn't wearing my pajamas. i remember before i passed out that i had been sexually assaulted by this man. >> you took the pill, drink the alcohol -- >> red wine. >> then what happened? >> the last thing that i in aber was ill cosby patchwork robe dropping his role in getting on top of me. >> bill cosby's attorneys have called dickinson's claims "an outrageous and defamatory lie." his camp has also dismissed the previous allegations from over a dozen women as "discredited," but without explaining how. cosby himself has been asked about the rape allegations in at least two recent interviews, but has refused to answer.
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including this one with scott simon. gives me notion pleasure, mr. cosby, but there have been serious allegations raised about you in recent days. you are shaking your head no. in the news business and i have to ask the question. do you have any response to those charges? shaking your head no. there are people who love you who might like to hear from you about this. i want to give you the chance. talks in addition to losing the network deals, he has cancelled appearances on at least two television talk shows. and those are some of the headlines, this is democracy now,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we turn now to extreme weather. last week the news was about the record heat. according to nasa, last month was the warmest october ever recorded across the globe. this week much of the united states is experiencing record
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cold. tuesday was the coldest november morning in the country since 1976. temperatures dropped below freezing in every state including parts of hawaii on tuesday and wednesday. the most extreme weather is hitting the western new york city of buffalo. >> we are used to snow, but this note -- storm dumped over five feet in some spots, almost an entire seasons of snowfall and 24 hours and more is on the way. >> it is a mess and self but fellow -- south buffalo. the big rig behind the and dozens of cars that have been stranded for more than a day. look at this. five feet of snow in 36 hours in upstate new york. that was so much weight, it broke the door down. is a weather emergency making news, a bitterly cold night in store for most people in this country. officially as of this morning,
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temperatures were below freezing at least somewhere in all 50 states. yes, that includes hawaii. >> in buffalo new york, six to seven feet of snow. another two to three feet of snow could fall today in areas that already received over six feet of snow earlier this week. at least seven deaths in western new york have been blamed so far on the snow. to talk more about this week's extreme weather. we are joined by eric holthaus, a meteorologist who writes about weather and climate for slate. his most recent post is called, "global warming is probably boosting lake-effect snows." welcome to democracy now! how? >> thanks. well, the science says this is another example of extreme weather and how climate change is affecting it. in this case, the great lakes, hase i think the 1970's,
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decreased their eyes cover by about 70%. so all that extra open water in the wintertime is giving more chance for things like lake effect snow to form. actually whatlain is happening across the country, particularly, in western new york in buffalo? how is this happening, especially in areas where you can have seven feet of snow and right next door, two inches? >> lake effect snow is a very intense narrow that forms off the lake. if you get a persistent wind over warm water with cold air above, that makes an extremely unstable atmosphere. it turns into a thunderstorm of snow and it falls right over that same area for hours and hours on end. that is what has happened this week. how the weather
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relates to climate change right now. >> climate change is boosting the amount of energy that is available in the atmosphere in general by heating the atmosphere, retracting the sun's incoming energy. and then that kind of gives annexed to boost into -- an extra boost into these weather systems. when you're talking about -- when you're talking about drought or extreme precipitation, in general, what climate change will do will make the wet days wetter and it will dry.the dry periods more again, this lake effect snow is one example of that. >> can you talk about the backlash against what you are writing? right-winghis
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backlash on twitter after your article came out in slate on wednesday. one user tweeted -- "got trapped in buffalo by a blizzard in the late 70s. back then it was evidence of global cooling." another said -- "lake-effect snow is new?? you are a fool and a tool." this is not the first time you've faced criticism from the right-wing for speaking out about climate change. last year, you wrote about how the latest u.n. climate report brought you to tears, and inspired you to resolve to give up air travel. this was how greg gutfeld of fox news reacted. >> the guy is a kook. someone should tell him that planes are better than driving. but he says he is the expert and what, beta male sniveling? >> eric holthaus, why do you think your scientific conclusions have inspired such a backlash? >> i think the real only reason is the the change
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changes in the atmosphere right now because of humans is political at this point. people are motivated by a worldview that doesn't allow for things like humans changing the weather. explain it,i personally. >> the weather is blanketing the airwaves, to say the least. as it should be, because people -- it is so extreme, what is taking place across the country. while below freezing of buffalo, not only did they say seven feet of snow in some areas, but two to three feet possibly coming today and then flooding when it warms over the weekend. they don't even have the equipment that can move the snow. >> i think the football team, the buffalo bills, call for volunteers in yesterday to scoop out the stadium because i think one of my fellow meteorologists calculated it would be something like eight person-years of time
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it would take to scoop out that snow at 200,000 tons of snow that fell in that stadium. >> and yet we're on target for being the warmest, the hottest year on record. is that right, still? >> yes, it is still accurate. we have six of the last 10 months have been the warmest such months on record. i'm going back to the late 1800s. from tree rings and from ice cores going back several thousand years that show it has been -- this is the warmest year in that entire stretch of time. just because we have a snowstorm here, he definitely does not mean that, change is somehow not happening. >> all four seasons were experienced in one week, you write in a recent post? >> yeah>>. it felt that way, definitely.
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we are in the middle of false on the east coast in new york, new york city was a most peak fall time this weekend. we had a tornado outbreak in the southeast. snowstorms moved to the northeast. on the west coast, where having santa anna wind event, which it tends to boost the chances of wildfire in southern florida there were record highs at the same time record lows were being felt in the midwest. it was definitely quite an extreme week this week. >> and to those who say record cold makes a mockery of global warming? >> sure, well, you have to remember that we are just one patch of land on this huge planet. even know the united states is cold right now, actually, on
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tuesday, the same day that all 50 states hit freezing temperature, the northern hemisphere as a whole was about almost a full degree celsius above normal. the cold pattern is happening here, doesn't mean it is happening everywhere. >> do you think it will be accurate if the meteorologists on television, instead of just flashing the two words "severe weather" also flashed "climate change" or "global warming"? how do you think that would affect people's perceptions of what we could do? >> i think would be more scientifically accurate. like i said earlier, guilty reason not to talk about climate change anymore -- the only reason not to talk about, change anymore is political. to be true to the science, we can find a link for extreme weather events must all around
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the country or around the world right now. the amount it is measurable is somewhat up for debate. for example, for this lake effect snow, snow season in western new york is variable. it is hard to pull out that pattern or that signal of global warming, but the science has shown it is there. so i think to talk about the science and away that reflects how climate change is affecting weather patterns, i think [indiscernible] , thank you fors being with us, speaking to us from wisconsin. eric holthaus is a meteorologist who writes about weather and climate for slate. his most recent post is called "global warming is probably boosting lake-effect snows." we will link to it at ofn we come back, the story -- well, he started as a young man at the age of 18.
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how he went to jail for taking the tools his father bequeathed him after his dad died. how is it possible that 34 years later he remains in jail? his name is mark defriest. 27 of those 34 years, in solitary. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. return now to the shocking case of mark defriest. in 1970 nine, his father died and left him a set of tools. mark picked his tools up before they were probated. he was arrested for stealing. at the age of 19, mark was sentenced to four years in prison in florida. it is now 34 years later and mark is still locked up. he spent 27 of those years in solitary confinement. even though he has never committed a violent act. his story is told in a shocking new film called "the life and , mind of mark defriest." the film looks at how mark ended up in jail and how he became known as the houdini of floor to prisons because tried to escape
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13 times -- seven of them successfully. about a month into a sentence, he tried his first escape. this is a clip of mark defriest describing that attempt. >> there was a bible study. supposed to be escorted around the compound at night. many of us broke camp.
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>> that's a excerpt from "the life and mind of mark defriest." in another escape attempt, mark used a "zip gun" he made in wood shop class. he said he never planned to hurt anyone, but he was charged with attempted murder. during his trial, five out of six court-appointed psychiatrists testified defriest was highly intelligent, but also mentally ill and incompetent to be sentenced. but one doctor insisted he was faking. this cleared the way for mark to plead guilty to a life sentence. he spent much of it in the notorious x wing of florida state prison, where he went for years without seeing the sun. well, for more we're joined now by the film's director gabriel , london. he is just back from wednesday's hearing before the florida commission on offender review where he testified on behalf of defriest. the commissioners have all seen the film, and for the first
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time, they decided to meet again in just a couple of weeks to consider an early parole date for mark defriest. this is a major change for the commission, which has previously delayed his parole for as long as 20 years. gabriel london, welcome to democracy now! >> thank you for having me. >> this case is so shocking. what happened yesterday in court? is it a court? >> no, it is a public body. >> where? >> tallahassee, florida. parole was abolished in 1984 in florida and across much of the country, so it is interesting there are still a number of cases that essentially grandfathered in. mark is one of those. he comes up for parole consideration every two years approximately. they can decide anywhere between seven and one year, they can bring a case back. they brought him back and at a
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interview and they basically than making a vote yesterday, they would like to bring the full committee back because only with the full committee can they make a much bigger reduction in his parole. >> tell us marks story. >> mark went to prison in 1980. he basically was 20 years old and had a dispute with his stepmother and the authorities over the will of his father. he did not really understand the concept of probate. this gets at a larger issue with mark, the question of whether he understood the legal process and the laws of people. child,s gifted as a incredibly gifted, a savant, if you will. really have these skills, but no social understanding. they tried for years to figure out what to do with them. ultimately, it was the prison system that stepped in and held him tight for the last 34 years. >> so he took his dad's tools that his that had left him. it was his bond with his father because his father taught him to
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use these tools. how did he become the houdini of the prison system? >> it goes back to his father. in a sense, mark and his father had a steep and action that was really a mechanical connection. this bother had a history of having been in world war ii, and oss person, really believed the communists were coming and prepared his only son, his only child, in a way to be prepared for the russians who were coming. mark grew up around guns, grew up around essentially what he calls guerrilla warfare, this avoidance tactics and theories that is that prepared him in. when he got to prison, he felt like you should not be there. he did not understand the sentence, did not understand the people around him and the menace the represented. he did what he learned to do as a child, and he escaped. he evaded the police and ran. he stayed out for only about 24 hours, but he swam a river, hotwired a car and was caught
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the next day in a motel. without a shootout, without any further incident, really, but he had made a statement. >> can you set up the scene when dr. robert berland meets mark for the first time? >> 30 years prior, the doctor mentald mark was faking illness. when i contacted them about the film come his essentially said, if mark defriest is still in prison, i must have made a mistake. that catalyzed the series of steps that went dim meeting mark in prison. mark came blinking out of solitary confinement, almost walleyed in a physical way that you can see. he hasn't seen people or talk to people in two weeks. he comes in and meets dr. berlin and the first time in 30 years. >> let's go to that clip. >> i don't know if you are member me. we met back in 1981. i was a lot younger than. >> i remember. >> let me back up and start with why i'm here today these many
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years later, because i think it would help you understand where i'm coming from. it was my opinion now that my opinion then was inaccurate. there were things i did not know then that i know now that would have made a look at you differently. everything would have been different. are you ok talking with me? >> sure. >> i'm going to read each of the sentences to you one at a time. then you're going to tell me if it is true or false for you. i like mechanics magazines. >> true. >> i have a good appetite. >> true. >> i wake up fresh and rested most mornings. >> false. dr.ark defriest meeting berland for the first time, the
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man who said he was faking his mental illness. what does it mean that he has changed his view? what did he say after this meeting with mark? got tocally, dr. berland do something that mark and many people in prison should have the opportunity to do, which is to ask forgiveness and have innocents redeemed. there's a moment where dr. berland says, there things you do and say when you're young that you later realize were wrong. it is ironic as he stands across from mark defriest who really made a mistake as a 19-year-old and made a series of mistakes after he went to prison come a largely, i believe, and i think many professionals leave, because his psychological problems. basically, dr. berland has this opportunity to go back and right a wrong. that is what we follow through the film. >> when he went into prison, he was 19 when this happened, 20, 21 when he went to prison? he was honest immediately gang raped by 14 or 15 men.
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>> it was a common occurrence in florida at that time. there's plenty of evidence on the record and court orders from the federal government down to manning that florida clean up its prison system at that time. the big heart was rape was a common occurrence, something basically unchecked. mark faced -- a 72 re: had problems there were social, he did not have connections to other people, did not have protections from other friends. he never aligned himself with a gang. he was always a walk alone. he was the perfect target and was gang raped and had to made some tough choices. >> let's go to another clip from "the life and mind of mark defriest." this is ron mcandrew, former warden of a notorious prison where mark was held, and then mark himself. >> i was a wordnet florida state prison. the worst of the worst.
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it is a prison that houses death row in the death chamber it was hell ho if you just mentionedle fsp to any offender anywhere in the state of florida, you would get his instant corporation because nobody wanted to be sent to florida state prison. and that was often done as punishment to prisoners around the state. them, could not control if disciplinary measures did not help, then you would back him up, put them on a bus, and send him to florida state prison and they would come back with their tail between their legs. >> there's no tv, no radio, nothing but death and drama and the -- the goes along with it. it was a terrible place. do anything wrong, they put you solidarityd asian --
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list. not a day, a week. so you could go 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 years and never see the yard. >> that was mark defriest. 10 years of request to see the sun denied? >> mark was placed in what he calls the consolidated security list. he was aarti in solitary confinement, but because of rule violations, and many times you see folks with mental illness in prison, they are punished for their symptoms. he was not even granted the one hour of yard per week he could actually see the sun. mark literally the end of it was saying, i haven't seen the sun in my health is failing. >> at one point, mark makes this gun while in prison and uses it in an escape attempt.
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he says in the film he did not intend to shoot at the guard but admits he did shoot the gun at the wall to see what it would do. his lawyer john middleton explains how he was treated next. >> they charged him with attempted murder. he was placed in solitary confinement, lifted total darkness in a single cell, not allowed to communicate. estates, noorders, clothing for prisoners, no mattress or sheets, no matching separates, etc. conversation limited to business only. he was deprived of all toiletries, deprived of toilet paper. tissue, toothpaste, the water was turned off. she could not flush his toilet. you could not bathe or shower. he at eat without utensils. >> that was his lawyer john middleton explaining how mark defriest was treated. gabriel london? >> we look at the conditions of
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confinement that he faced in 1981, and flashforwards to what we see in places like guantánamo and abu ghraib. when you think about the base humiliation they put him through and the way they really tortured him. this idea you can put someone in a confined estate and they won't them, ising, you mace ludicrous and torturous. that is what led mark to plead to a life sentence. talks i want to interrupt you with another clip of "the life and mind of mark defriest." he is explaining an escape attempt that involved lsd.
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>> that was mark defriest explaining his escape attempt that involved lsd. that explains why the guards hate him. >> he is a joker. he made a self portrait of himself as a clown in a
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straitjacket. he became a great illustrator in prison. we ended up in a meeting a lot of the scenes to bring them back to life. we worked with a company based in toronto. >> it is astounding, the illustrations, the animation. >> yes, in a was really a way to bring people into the cell with him and cushions the blow when he see the torture that he went through in the darker pieces of this film, it is a way of filtering it to some extent. really what you see in his case at this point is the punishment of these outbursts in his past that were really connected to a sense of humor, his playfulness, his failure to ever stop telling the same joke. that is something that comes up in the film as well. >> mental illness in prison, how it is that with? some of the footage, the beatings of the guards, where did you get this footage? >> there's a lot of archive, and owes able to pull that from the florida memory project. it was helpful. with mental illness, it is a delicate line.
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their two point 2 million people in prison, 500,000 are believed to be mentally ill. in mark's case, there was a long record of people finding him and confident. how is that relevant currently? he goes before the parole commission every couple of years and have to look at whether there are mitigating circumstances and understanding his behavior. to tour the film around florida and allow them to really vote on what they think should happen -- >> you presented it to the parole board members? >> first. that was on purpose, so they did not feel like they were getting blindsided by audiences coming in and saying, hey, free mark defriest. >> you're holding a cardboard box. >> this is the ballot box that asks on the ballot whether should have conditional parole release. overwhelmingly, voted yes. there would be stipulations on his freedom. i was able to tell the parole
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commission about that yesterday. i think alternately they will be swayed by florida citizens and community members saying, there is a responsibility of this body is a democratic body to actually look at the circumstances of the case and potentially offer redemption to this person. >> he was married when he went into prison and now married again, has been for over a decade, to another woman. >> his wife, bonnie, is his loyal partner who has been with him for 20 years and very much want him to come home to oregon where she lives. there is a parole plan being presented to the commission that really explains the services he would receive, the place he would live, the education opportunities he would have. >> the date of the parole board heating -- hearing? >> rally scheduled december 3. it may be to summer 17. people can stay updated at and through twitter. box and we will follow it, too. gabriel london, astounding film,
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"the life and mind of mark defriest." when we come back, bryan stevenson joins us, "just mercy: a story of justice and redemption." ♪ [music break]
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based on the words of civil rights pioneer ella baker. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. protests are continuing in ferguson, missouri ahead of the grand jury's decision on whether to indict officer darren wilson. for the killing of michael brown. on wednesday, demonstrators braved subzero temperatures to rally outside the ferguson police department. the grand jury's decision on whether to charge officer wilson is expected any day.
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there are expected to reconvene on friday. we're joined in new york by bryan stevenson from the eagle justice initiative a group based , in alabama that represents some of this country's most marginalized people -- the poor and the wrongfully convicted. brian stevenson has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners and argued before the supreme court six times. in 2012, he won a landmark supreme court case that barred states from giving mandatory life sentences without parole to children. the nobel prize-winning south african archbishop desmond tutu has called bryan stevenson "america's young mandela." bryan stevenson is just out with a new book entitled, "just mercy: a story of justice and redemption." welcome back to democracy now! ie book is astounding, but want to start with ferguson. your thoughts? >> i think ferguson should be seen as a mayor for all of america and every community in this country we have black and
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brown people who are being presumed dangerous and guilty and it is following them into schools were they suffer higher suspension and expulsion rates and follows them into department stores, follows them into the streets. and that burden of being presumed dangerous and guilty is extremely frustrating and angering. when you have people like michael brown being shot by an officer, that blows up. we need to keep careful attention to what is going on in ferguson but we need to understand and every community in this country, where there are young black come a brown men and women, that phenomenon, that problem exist and we are not going to deal with this issue if we just think whether this officer is indicted or prosecuted or not tells us something. we have to begin talking honestly about the legacy of racial inequality in this country. >> your thoughts on the governor, and governor nixon, quite astounding, that that is his name, but governor nixon of missouri holding this news conference and now saying a state of emergency?
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>> it is like an old bad movie. it is like they're acting out the script that is exactly the opposite of what you should do when dealing with these kinds of issues. declaring a state of crisis -- the crisis for them really isn't about what is happening with this officer but the crisis is people are exposing all of this bias and tension in this frustration. i think it is quite misguided. it is going to create more problems than it solves. he is baiting the community bank aging these kinds of tactics. i wish you was talking to people understood the pain and anguish of people in ferguson and people of color in many parts of this country. because if he did, he would be saying things differently. he would be doing things differently. i think we would have much less violent and conflict and tension. because he is talking to the same people in that bunker down mentality, you see them repeating the mistakes that took immediately -- took place the incident.ter
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i think is very misguided approach to this issue. >> you said in a ted talk that went viral, the opposite of poverty isn't wealth. the opposite of poverty is justice. >> we have so many people in in acountry that live marginalized society, live in jails and prison, that live with disability, live outside of the american experience in the way that most people think about it. we sometimes throw things at them to make ourselves feel better about their existence. when in fact, i believe poverty in this country is a function of our unwillingness to do justice, to many parts of our community. and i really do believe the opposite of poverty isn't wealth. we have this arrogance. we think when we make a mistake, we don't ever have to apologize or rethink how we behaved. we just throw some money or policy out there and move forward. i don't believe that gets you closer to deconstructing
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poverty. >> i want to go back to darren wilson. if heis indicted and isn't. of course, we don't know at this point. but if he isn't indicted, what would you say to the people of ferguson, of course, this is so much bigger than ferguson? >> i think they should be upset. they should be angry. you should not be surprised. we haven't created an environment where people of color can be fully protected because we haven't talked about what it means to be a person of color in this country. we have never really told the truth. we're doing the whole project on slavery. i don't think we've ever told the truth about what slavery did to our thinking about racial difference. we told lies about people of color. we said people of african descent are not smart, and not capable. because of that, we should enslave them. it justdid not and, evolved. it turned into decades of racial terror where we used violence
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and lynching and threats to sustain racial hierarchy. that is our history up until the era of jim crow and segregation. then we codify these differences between the races. even after the civil rights movement, we never told the truth about all of the damage we did. we humiliated people of color for decades. my parents were humiliated every day of their lives. i started my education and a colored school because i was told i was not smart enough for public school. we now live in an air of mass incarceration or we intimidate and threaten and menace people of color. everybody feels it. we should not be surprised if you don't get justice, but what we should do is start talking about truth. indictment we an would be more committed to telling the truth about our history and creating new forward path. >> where did you grow up? >> southern delaware, the top of the south on the eastern shore,
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community that was free much segregated -- that was very much segregated. my dad cannot go to high school there. we saw people really brand and by the mark of jim crow and apartheid. and why people, too. we have a whole generation of white people that were taught the were better than others because of their race. there are manifesting this bias in ways they're not even conscious of sometimes. we have a lot of work to do in this country to confront our history of racial inequality. >> who is walter mcmillion? >> one of the people i wrote about in this book, an innocent man wrongly convicted of a murder in monroeville, alabama at the time a young woman was murdered in downtown monroeville. mr. millon was at his home raising money for his church. everybody knew he was innocent, but he was charged because he was having an interracial affair.
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he was put on death row for 15 months before the trial. he was wrongly convicted did incidents to death. what was troubling for me, this case took lace in monroeville, where harper lee grew up and wrote "to kill a mockingbird." compared to the young atticus finch. >> i want to do better than atticus finch. tom robinson dies in prison because the rest no hope for him. i want people wrongly convicted and accused to get relief. i want the people in gels imprisons all across this -- in jails and prisons all across this country and fairly released. we ultimately were able to present evidence of his innocence. the police had coerced witnesses to testify falsely against him. for some reason, they recorded that. so we got the tapes and the
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witness was saying, you want me to frame an innocent man for murder and i don't feel right about it. we ultimately one his release. he is one of about 150 people on death row who have been exonerated in this country. for every 10 executions in america, we identified one innocent person who is now been released. it is a shameful rate of error when it comes to imposing the death penalty. >> are you encouraged by the number of states that are overturning the death penalty overall, getting rid of, abolishing the death penalty? >> i am encouraged, but also worried because these issues are fairly local. each state gets to make its own decision. we've seen progress with several states in the last two years abolishing the death penalty. i was especially encouraged by the 2012 referendum in california were people in that state always voted to end the death penalty by popular vote. which would really be progress. but i'm worried that indifference to wrongful conviction, our indifference to suffering of jailed and
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imprisoned people continues to be very strong. until we break that indifference, i worry you will continue to have a country where people are content -- condemned unfairly and tortured in prison. >> the title of your book, "just mercy: a story of justice and redemption." have too little compassion in our justice system. we're doing harsh, extra or nearly torturous things to people. i think we have forgotten it is not mercy, it is not justice, it is not compassion when we give it to people who haven't done anything wrong. you earned the right to call yourself compassionate and merciful when you expose people who have fallen down, and of done bad things to your justice, to your mercy. justice systeml completely devoid of mercy, which makes us devoid of justice. we have to do better. >> young people in prison. talk about the significance of, for example, the story of joe sullivan who is sentenced to
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life at the age of 13. >> one of the more tragic things that we have done over the last 40 years is we have put thousands of children in the adult prison system. we now have 250,000 people serving long sentences for crimes committed as children. some 3000 children sentenced to die in prison, some as young as 13 and 14 years of age. it is horrific. i was hearing about the defriest story which is compelling, but there are thousands of children in similar situations. i represented 13-year-old in the state of florida who were also put in solitary confinement. some had been there for 18 years. joe sullivan was convicted of a non-homicide at 13 and sentenced to die in prison. we want some supreme court decisions that made it easier to challenge some of the sentences, but we still have a lot of work to do. we create a these judgments were we said some children really are children and doesn't really cruel and torturous things.
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it is shameful to me that the united states and somalia really two countries in the world that are not signed a covenant on the rights of a child because it protects children from adult prison sentences ex-prison and the death penalty. -- sentences in prison and the death penalty. you see 13 and 14 and 15 you'll children in settings where they're being raped and abused because they haven't confronted the need to protect children after they have been accused of a crime. >> the 2012 supreme court decision that your group that you argued barring mandatory life without parole for children . give us examples. >> well, i write about trina garnet in pennsylvania who was horribly abused. she was living in a house where she was suffering a lot of violence. she was disabled, homeless living on the streets of chester, eating out of garbage cans. she met a family, a boy in the
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family and one that she tries to go see the boy by breaking in. she drops matches in the house catches on fire. two children died. an's convicted of unintentional murder, but mandatory life without parole. we have these mandatory life sentences that are very common. at the age of 14, she is condemned to die in prison. she goes to state prison and raped by a male guard. she gets pregnant. she is been imprisoned now promised 40 years. suffering continues. there are many children like that who have severed these horrible injustices because we imposed the mandatory sentence. we do not consider their age at the time of sentencing. we don't think it's vote, smoke, drink and protect them except when accused of a crime. then we say their child status does not matter. the whole nation where we have this whole country is now populated i jails and prisons where you find children.
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no minimum age for trying a child is adult. i represented nine-year-old and 10-year-old children threatened with adult prosecution. there's a 10-year-old facing adult prosecution in pennsylvania, 12 years old in florida. i think the disconnect is what we're trying to expose. >> what gives you most hope? >> when you tell people about these realities and get people to actually look -- if most people saw what i see, i think they would be outraged and demand justice. moreopeful we are creating space to give people a glimpse of what is happening through films and books after narratives. i am persuaded that we can bring down the prison population in this country by dramatic numbers, by 50% in the next six or seven years if we just demand greater justice. part one of our conversation. we will continue after the broadcast and will post it at bryan stevenson, founder and director of the equal justice initiative. his new book is "just mercy: a
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story of justice and redemption." democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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