Episode #9- Narco Mindset Podcast Prison Reform/Massive Incarceration- Part 2
Prison Reform/Massive Incarceration - Part 2
March 25, 2020
Host: Jorge Valdes Ph.D. - An Author, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and You Tuber
Co-Host: Anthony Petrucci
In today’s episode, Dr. Valdes takes on the subject of massive incarceration, which it’s a direct by-product of the failing war on drugs. Dr. Valdes suggests that when the government tells us that they are tough on crime because they want to make us safer is a lie. Dr. Valdes presents that America is 4.25 of the world’s population, yet it has over 24% of all the inmates in the world. He talks about how corruption is the cause behind this lie that the government tells all of us. I believe we see inmates as nothing more than inventory to enrich many companies who pay politicians enormous amounts of money to incarcerate people and make sure that once they are in prison, they stay in jail. We must hold our elected officials accountable because everyone can be a victim of this horrific and self-serving laws. Inmates can be rehabilitated and become contributing members of our society. Our taxpayer dollars are spent on making corporations productive and pay for political campaigns while our kids are dying of much-needed medicines and mental health treatment. It’s time we say: ENOUGH!
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TRANSCRIPTION OF EPISODE #9
INTRO: Before we watched TV shows and movies on Narcos, and even before Pablo Escobar’s rise to fame, there was one man who was the ultimate Narco. He lived the Narco life of greed, money and power but found a way to reclaim his life, and use his astonishing experiences to empower others to live a life of hope, meaning and redemption. Welcome to the Narco Mindset podcast where Dr. Jorge Valdes shares his journey through life before and after the Medellín Drug Cartel. From torture and multiple prison sentences to how he refocused his life onto a path of principles learned as a Narco. It’s time to share that raw truth with you, right here on the Narco Mindset podcast with your host, Dr. Jorge Valdes.
Jorge: Today in the Narco Mindset podcast, say yes more than no to your kids. Not everyone that commits a crime is a criminal. Our past is part of who we are but it doesn’t need to be part of our future. How can he love me when I was a pornographer, when I was a drug dealer when I was an adulterer? At the end of the day, all we’ve got to do is love people. Nobody [inaudible 00:01:12] done. It was just to rehabilitate and change an entire prison. Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world can change it. I believe that we can. How can I say that I am against abortion because it’s murder but then I want to see a criminal get executed?
Welcome to the Narco Mindset podcast. I am your host, Dr. Jorge Valdes, with my co-host, Anthony Petrucci. Anthony, in the last episode, we really covered, again ... it seems like I keep saying we covered again and covered again but it just seems like I’m recapping so much of my life into 30-minute segments that we do cover a lot of ground. The last episode was fascinating because we talked about the fact that how Warden Cain took the bloodiest prison in the history of America, and with his way of teaching moral rehabilitation, using the Bible not to teach the Bible, not to convert, but to make inmates that were horrific criminals to be moral people. Not teaching the Bible to convert people but to get inmates who were horrific criminals to realize that inside of them, they can be moral people.
You walk into Angola right now, and you realize it’s the safest prison in America. Yet, there are 6,500 men all doing life. The average time that a man has been there being forty-somewhat years. When he gets out into his community, in essence, he’s a hero to a lot of the kids because he comes out of prison. There’s such an aura about that, wrongfully so where you're the ultimate man. You did time, you went to prison, you survived. Well, if that same person can come out and tell the young people, “Listen, the path I took was wrong. It’s not the path that we need to take,” then we can make an enormous difference in the community. We can change the world. We can put all those private prison enterprises out of business. Listen, I don’t care how bad a person’s been. When that person was created, I’m thoroughly convinced that God said the same thing he said about you, I or any of our listeners. It is good. Our choices make us bad.
In today’s episode, I’m really excited as we continue on this subject that we have launched upon. Hopefully, by the time it’s all over, the listeners are going to have a greater understanding of at least my point of view, why the war on drugs is such a failure, and why massive incarceration is such a horrific crime to humanity. Literally, that’s what it is but the sentence needs to be dictated and needs to be predicated upon the offense, not upon whether some stupid ass corporation somewhere is going to make a ton of money of looking at a human being as a piece of inventory. Yeah, I’m passionate about it, I think a little bit crazy about it but this is the reality of life. We need to wake up and make a difference.
Warden Cain has it right. He not only has it right, but he has also shown it to work in a prison that no warden stayed longer than three years. The bloodiest prison in the history of America. He began just by showing those people respect, be willing to listen to them, like with our kids. [Inaudible 00:03:59] one of his advice to parents is, “Listen, say yes more than no to your kids.” Think about that because that’s what he did in prison. He said yes more than no. When he personalized things, for example, one time a girl got pregnant in the visiting room. He got them all together and said, “Listen, that’s not going to happen under my shift. I’m giving you this visiting room. It’s your visiting room. It’s yours to keep. I don’t want it back. Don’t give it back to me. Don’t do something stupid where I got to take it back. I don’t want it back.” Well, you know what, it was amazing that forever, everything went well, and the time when they screwed up, and he took the visiting room away from them, nobody complained because he didn’t take it, they gave it back to him.
Yeah, we have to individualize. We can’t just put everybody on the same plate, and in the same label, and then make a difference. It’s like with immigrants. If we pass a law where those that are in the shadows can go ahead, and if they can show that they haven’t been arrested, that they have worked ... I mean, first of all, I think everybody needs to pay. You break the law, we need to pay. That’s my number one thing. The payment has to be adequate for the crime, and you can’t make a person pay for being desperate and wanting to feed his family as you would for a person that just doesn’t give a damn and just going to rob anybody. This way, if you do this and if these people are allowed to work and to contribute to society, then those that you arrest that do not have that card, the suspects, then you can deport those because they didn’t go to the system because they had something to hide.
It’s very, very simple but we create a big massive problem, and at the end of the day, we’re a nation of immigrants. Everybody that came here, short of the Indians that were here and were chased away, is an immigrant. We cannot put everybody under the same label. Not every one that commits a crime is a criminal. That’s a fact. A lot of circumstances in life make you do things that you might never have ever wanted to be known but you cannot be labeled by that. For those inmates that have done that, I tell them, “Listen, our past is part of who we are but it doesn’t need to be part of our future. It does not need to define us.
If we personalize those men and women in there, my God, how many women, decent women that, you know, maybe just got messed up using drugs and sold drugs to keep a habit. Also, they have a baby and the baby is yanked away from them. It’s a very complex system but at the end of the day, if we treat people as humans, in the long run, we’ll become a safer country, and again, the billions and billions of dollars that we waste warehousing these people ends up being money that we can use to actually help people that are in so desperate need. Maybe feed that one out of six kids in America that go hungry every night. It’s complex but I think you hit it right on the dot.
Anthony: Your point about not letting your past define your future, Jaime, whom you talked about a few minutes ago is a great example. As you said, he was known as a thug, he had very little education, had gotten into big trouble, he was going to spend a long, long time in prison and the man changed. He attributed it to his coming to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the spiritual awakening, a connection with God. But one of the amazing things that Jaime talked about was that up until he met you and your friend Gene in prison and showed him, love, up until that point, he had never experienced fatherly love. He had said that growing up, whenever anybody was nice to him, there was always a hidden agenda. Somebody wanted something. He did not trust that. He grew up without a father. I think he was 15 or 16 years old before he even met his biological father and it turned out that his father was like this small-time drug dealer who didn’t really even care about him and I don’t think they even developed much of a relationship after that. But he grew up without a father.
When he was in prison, his mother did not visit him. He did not know what fatherly love is and the whole problem of fatherlessness in our country or in our world, the impact that it has on people. But when he saw something that’s genuine with people like yourself who was not trying to get anything from him, you did not have any kind of agenda, you just wanted to be authentic and see what he’s really about. He has changed. He has Jaime Torres Ministries now. He goes around and talks to different prison groups, he speaks at different churches, he even speaks at Celebrate Recovery. He’s doing amazing things but if somebody had looked at his past and said this guy is a thug, this guy is this and that, that stigma, he would not have been doing any of these things now where he’s having a positive impact on youth, he’s going into youth centers, speaking to at-risk youth groups, he’s getting his book.
He’s like a walking miracle and his book I believe is called ‘You Can’t Kill the Miracle’. Jaime is having a great impact. I think he’s a great example of somebody who’s not letting that past influence his future and his connection with you, I know, has made a big deal. As you said, people influence people. When you get people in the prison system who can be mentors to others and show them a different way and walk a path that is moral and why there's a benefit to that. It really changes people’s lives but ultimately, it’s something in the heart. There's anger there, there's a resentment there, there's a distrust there, there’s anger against society. When that heart changes, and it really does start with genuine love, I would even say fatherly love or brotherly love where you care about people, it can make a huge difference.
Everybody can get all the technical training they can in prison and the government does better to have better programs but even just that opening up of the soul and dealing with those issues and going forward on a path that’s really going to help. I think it’s going to make a big, big difference. You also talked about Warden Cain and his program has proven to work. Can you talk a little bit about what you know of what Warden Cain’s doing these days in terms of prisons and the influence that he continues to have?
Jorge: You know, I want to talk about Warden Cain but I just want to go back and just mention something real, real simple that you said that is so critical. That is transforming a man’s heart or a woman’s heart through that unconditional love which is also part of what Warden Cain did. I told you the story of when I was at Tallahassee we had a Monday night group and what happened was, it was seven of us and we trained in transactional analysis and we would bring kids that were highly high risk. This judge decided that he would sentence them to an 11-week program in the prison. They would come in every Monday night and at the end of the 11 weeks, we got to say to the judge whether he should send them off to prison or give them a chance. We took it very serious.
I say this because there was this one girl, Anthony, I tell you, this girl was 12 years old and this girl was there, she was charged with prostituting and nearly stabbing this whole man to take his money. She came into our group and she had been arrested numerous times for prostitution since she was 10 years old. Anyway, at this time she was 12-13 years old and I’m telling you, man, I have never, I seen some hardened people, I never see somebody so hard. We went to the first week and the second week and she would laugh at the stuff we were doing, laugh at the other because parents had to come with kids. She came without her mother. She had a mother and she lived at home but she really lived like an orphan. Anyway, the length of the story is, we would go back and evaluate and I would tell the other inmates, “Listen, this girl needs to be locked up for life. This girl is just going to kill anybody that she can. She’s brutal. She used to cuss us out, call us ‘F’, stupid and on and on and on.
Well, it was about the ninth week and we were talking to this other mother who had a daughter that was struggling with drugs and had gotten arrested for selling drugs to just substantiate her habit. Something happened and something was said. This mother, all of a sudden said the reason she hadn’t given her daughter love was she didn’t know love. She wanted to learn what love was all her life but no one taught her what love was so she couldn’t teach her daughter to be loved. When she said that, this 12-year-old hoodlum all of a sudden, she started to cry and cry and cry. We were shocked. We didn’t think this girl had a tear in her entire life. All she kept saying was, “All I wanted to do was to be loved. All I wanted to do is to be loved and not abused. Loved and not abused.” Long of the story is, she finished the program and she started coming and she came for over a year and a half as a volunteer to help other girls and literally transformed so many kids all because all she wanted to do was to know what love is.
We that grown up in the suburbs think that love is natural. Oftentimes I think that we say love a little bit too easy. I love my dog. I love my TV program. I love my car. But what you are talking about is that agape love, that sacrificial love, the last commandment Jesus gave us when he says, “A new commandment, that you love one another as I loved you.” For Jorge Valdes, when I heard that, I wept because I realized how can he love me when I was a pornographer, when I was a drug dealer, when I was an adulterer when I was all the horrors that a human being can be. How can he love me so much? And knowing that love transformed me.
Well, Burl Cain comes from the same mindset. He comes from a mother who’s a very, very strong Christian and told him that the State of Louisiana might have commissioned him with the inmate’s body but Jesus was commissioning him with the soul. He served and he transformed Angola and now he’s created a foundation where he’s going to other states and he’s trying to institute the same program that he did at Angola. You ask yourself, why is everybody not lined up? Why is every damn state in the country not lined up to have Burl Cain teach him what he did at Angola which he thinks and believes that can be done anywhere? I know the reason. We don’t want that. You take a man, Burl Cain, what an amazing man. I’ve been going to Angola now for 19 years. I love the place so much. One Christmas, when our two little children were 4 and 7, we went and spent Christmas with them because I wanted to teach my children. I wanted to teach them about when the Bible says, “When did you visit me in prison?” I wanted to teach them that, listen, these are men that made bad choices but they are men for whom God created and for whom God died.
As I’m talking here, I’m not trying to evangelize anyone or trying to get anyone to believe what I believe. I’m just telling you what I believe and what I’ve seen. If whoever your higher power is that you believe, he’s got this unbelievable love, at the end of the day, all we’ve got to do is love people. I’ve known at least 5 atheists. I considered myself atheist back then, there were people, didn’t believe in God at all but love so much that they were amazing people. Later on, when I turned my life around, I ended up hurting for them. The truth of the matter is that love and that when Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you.” This is the last commandment. This is the last thing.
At the end of the day, we ask ourselves: Do we love, which means we obey, or we just don’t. Why are we so divisive as a country, my brother, it’s because why do people do not want to come and be Christians? Why is Christianity dying in America? Less than 60% of Americans according to the Pew Foundation consider themselves Christians. The sad point is that 85% of that 60 % are people born between 1925 and 1948. What happens in 20 years? I used Jesus and I talk about the Bible just as an example of how love can transform a life. As you said, Jaime is a tremendous example. Burl Cain can give you a hundred other examples of men that when he walked into Angola, read their record and said they were murderers. Burl did not look at them as murderers. He looked at them as a human being that committed a horrible crime for which he is paying but he’s still owed the decency of being treated like a human being. That’s what we’re lacking in this world, right?
You talked about a fatherless society. Think about all these kids. 60% of Americans are in divided homes. 60% of our kids are being raised by a single mum. The other day I read a statistic that of the group of men that leave their home through a divorce, less than 15% are involved in the lives of their kids. Our children are dying for attention. I talked about why a young man of the age of 12 kills someone and joins a gang so that someone can tell him 24 hours a day what to do. At the end of the day, it’s simply because he’s just looking to be loved. He needs direction. He needs attention. Our kids act out all the time. Why? Because we’re just not present in their lives. We justify it by saying we work so hard because we want to give them a beautiful vacation home and great vacations and two, three cars. The only thing our kids want, they don’t want any of that crap. All they want, our time. Cost nothing.
At the beginning when you and I envisioned this podcast, our number one aim, and purpose for it was that through stories, we can give people hope. When you live in a hopeless society, why do we have all these suicide rates? Think about this. I remember this young girl taking her life and leaving a note that says: No reason for living is the reason for dying. My God! She lived in a very wealthy family, had everything you could imagine, raised in the church. I tell people, look at the ghetto. There are not many of them committing suicide. They are dying to live. We have everything and we’re dying to die. Love transforms people. Burl Cain is a perfect example of how he went into Angola. Read about it, people. Angola, it was called the bloodiest prison in the history of America. That’s where the movie Dead Man Walking was made, Monster’s Ball. I mean, the blood, you can still walk through the cement between the cell blocks and you can still see blood there from many, many years ago.
If a man could come in there, one man, and not that he was any different, so many men came before him, none of them lasted three years, come in there and say, “Hey, all you have to do is say yes more than no. I’m going to listen to you and I’m going to treat you how you deserve to be treated. You want to be treated like a gentleman, I promise you, every guard here, I’m going to train the guards so that they would treat you because part of the problem is the abuse from the guards.” When these guards agitate the inmates, then it becomes a very unsafe prison. He stopped that. He says, “I will treat you with the same respect you treat yourself. You want to be a knucklehead, I’ve got ways to treat knuckleheads. And trust me, he did.
He created an amazing prison whereby literally if you think about it none of those people is supposed to have hope. Everybody is going to die there. There are five cemeteries. They bury more people than they have ever released. Why did he transform the prison? While you walk around and those inmates, man, I walk in there, 6,500 men, the majority of them doing life. I walked in there through the whole walk with my wife, I have never in 18 years heard a man say anything out of line or disrespectful since Warden Cain treated those men with respect and love then those men watch their own house. Yes, there are knuckleheads there but trust me, the other inmates will take care of the knuckleheads.
Yes, Burl Cain is a perfect example. He’s a man that can transform. I was hoping that President Trump would hire him to run the Federal Bureau of Prison. It’s a tough thing because what Burl can do is not probably what nobody wants to be done, which is to rehabilitate and change an entire prison. He’s teaming up with you and me and hopefully we’re going to be speaking, we are going to do events together and just raise awareness. I think one of our main goals is for you and me to raise the awareness of our listeners, of our citizens, to realize that we cannot be lied to anymore. You need to wake up because there are serious consequences on the horizon and you can make a difference.
Anthony: That’s a great point. As we close this particular episode of the podcast, I think as we share the book that we’re going to publish on criminal justice reform, our listeners will be able to learn more about Warden Cain’s story and other stories and just get deeper into this topic. To take a page out of Warden Cain’s playbook, we need more people to say yes to criminal justice reform. I encourage people to go to our website jorgevaldesphd.com to interact with us. Join our community, become part of this movement. Jorge, what’s the final word you have for folks today on this topic?
Jorge: Listen, we all need to get together. All of us need to believe in the mission. All of us need to realize that we can make a difference. The greatest movements in history have been made by not a bunch of people but one person who felt that they could make a difference and again those who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world can change it. I believe that we can. Your book is going to create great awareness. Our speaking campaign, our writing, our blogs are going to raise awareness because, at the end of the day, all we want is to raise awareness so that people realize that there’s hope. America is the greatest nation in the world. I believe that it is a godly nation. Unfortunately, we just lost our compass. That’s one thing we’re going to cover in the next set of podcasts, my brother, we’re going to talk about it and we’re going to debate this question. Is America a Christian nation? When people say that it’s not, are they right or are they wrong? If it is, why? If it’s not, why not? And again, not in the sense of trying to evangelize but to realize that for you and I, when we talk about that, when we talk about being Christian or loving Jesus or any of that stuff is because we correlate that to how we love human beings. How we love others. How we care about others. How we want to help others. How when we see someone hurting, we hurt. When we see a mother separate from their child, we hurt. When we see a mother, the fear that their only option in this world is to get an abortion, we hurt.
I tell people I am pro-life. I don’t want to make any mistake about that, but I’m also, part of me being pro-life means all life. The unborn, the born, the immigrant, the prisoner, that man there lying on death row. How can I say that I am against abortion because it’s murder but then I want to see a criminal get executed? Not everyone is going to like what we do. Some people may be pissed off but I’m sure they’ll get over it. In the meantime, we’ll have fun and just raise awareness. We ask that people who like our podcast share it. This is a movement. Join our community. Eventually, we’re going to create content that’s only going to be for community members.
Right now, whoever joins our community at www.jorgevaldesphd.com will go ahead and get a copy of our latest book, Narco Mindset: Freedom Edition, and whoever subscribes to our podcast will also get a copy of the book. Listen, if you enjoy it, share it. If you don’t then I’m sure there are tons of other podcasts that are just as wonderful. If you do enjoy it, we do ask that you do more than just be entertained. Help us to make a difference and change this world. God bless you and we’ll see you next week.
OUTRO: We’ve come to the conclusion of this episode of the Narco Mindset podcast but your path towards hope, meaning and redemption continues. For more information and resources to help you on your path towards finding a life built on integrity, honor and truth, head to jorgevaldesphd.com, and join our community. We appreciate you joining us for this episode, and look forward to helping you find your turning point right here on the Narco Mindset podcast.