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tv   Locked Up Abroad  MSNBC  December 20, 2015 3:00am-4:01am PST

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i'd managed to get home. it was good to be back, back reunited with my loved ones. yeah. he said, you're not going to walk out of here alive, unless you tell me where those drugs are. i had 500 doses of lsd. i had started something that i was going to regret. i was scared out of my mind. i had this one chance and i just had to take it, no matter what. and we were fugitives on the run.
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just struggling to survive. the only way i was going to get out of there was to escape. ♪ >> i was just going south, down through mexico, down through central america, and into south america. i was 24 years old from santa barbara, california. my girlfriend at the time was crystal.
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we had been together probably three or four years at that time. i mean, she was the first love of my life. but crystal had got involved with someone that i knew and i was heart broken. so i just took off. i didn't foresee that it would eventually lead to my being imprisoned and forced to run for my life. i ended up in lima, the capital of peru. most the people in the hotel were in their 20s or early 30s. they were just like me, traveling around. you know, you do a little partying, a little drinking. that's where i first started using cocaine.
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it wasn't that i intended to try it. it's just that it was available, and it was just something that i hadn't done before, so i thought i'd give it a shot and see what it was like. you get this big jolt of energy through your body. you feel super powerful all of a sudden. nobody really thought about it as being an addictive-type drug. just a party drug. within a month, i was pretty much addicted to the cocaine. i was snorting coke pretty much every day. sounds crazy, but you fall in love with the drug. it won't let you stop thinking about it.
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i actually started running out of money. i decided it was time to go back, but i started thinking, you know, it sure would be nice to have this stuff down in california. i got about maybe an ounce and a half of coke, which cost me a couple hundred dollars. i had never had more than, say, a gram at a time in my possession before, so it was pretty scary. i didn't really like having it at all. this friend of mine told me that you didn't have to carry it yourself, or worry about walking through customs. you just mail it back to the united states. he showed me exactly how to do it. i got a cardboard box, and i started to carefully peel the
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outer layer off. it took a while to do it. you had to be real careful not to tear it. just put the cocaine in, work it into the cardboard until it was flat and then glue that outside layer back on. it looked pretty good. i mean, it looked pretty much the same as the box did before i put it in there. i put some blankets and some curios in there and wrapped it all up. i shook it around and everything, made sure it wasn't going to leak out of there. it didn't. it was ready to go. but for some reason, i was worried about the box getting stolen. i mean, the post offices down there were not real reliable. to me it was a lot of drugs and i'd gone through a lot of
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trouble to get it and to package it and i just thought, i really don't want to lose this. so then i decided, well, if it's such a good method, i think i'll just carry it back with me, instead of mailing it. we had a stopover in keeto, ecuador. where we had to change planes. they told us to get in line for the next flight. but i didn't realize there was a checkpoint before getting on the plane. i felt nervous and a lot of apprehension, but you can't let it show, or you're just tipping them off to what you're doing. i was thinking, just keep your
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eyes ahead of you and don't look at anybody, because you're going to be in a world of hurt if something goes wrong here. i was just going to walk up there and they were going to check my passport and i was going to get on this airplane and everything would be fine. but when i got up to the counter, they looked at me and my mind just kinda went blank. they just kinda said, sir, would you please come this way? we'd like to check your bags. they weren't pulling anybody else out of line. i thought, jeez, i wonder, maybe they know. we went down a little hallway and there was a room. they started taking everything out of my backpack and going through everything, piece by piece.
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they opened up the box. they were going through it, shaking everything. i had some blankets in there. and they would take a knife and cut the seams open to see if there was anything in the blanket. i was starting to get more and more worried that it wasn't just a chance search, because they seemed to be pretty sure that i had something in there. but they weren't finding anything. then they brought in another person who was a higher up person. maybe a sergeant. >> what's your name? >> tom hanway. tom hanway. >> do you have any drugs on you? >> i just looked at him and said, i don't know what you're talking about. i don't have any drugs.
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then all of a sudden, he pulls his gun out, sticks it in my face and says, now, gringo, you need to tell me where those drugs are, because i know you have some. and he cocks the trigger of the pistol. he says you're not going to walk out of here alive unless you tell me. today people are coming out to the nation's capital to support an important cause that can change the way you live for years to come. how can you help? by giving a little more, to yourself. i am running for my future. people sometimes forget to help themselves. the cause is retirement, and today thousands of people came to race for retirement and pledge to save an additional one percent of their income. if we all do that we can all win. prudential bring your challenges®
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the possibility of a flare swas almost always on my mind. thinking about what to avoid, where to go... and how to deal with my uc. to me, that was normal. until i talked to my doctor. she told me that humira helps people like me get uc under control and keep it under control when certain medications haven't worked well enough. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened;
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as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common, and if you've had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have flu-like symptoms or sores. don't start humira if you have an infection. raise your expectations. ask your gastroenterologist about humira. with humira, control is possible.
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i never had a gun pointed at me before. it's really scary. you know, you have a gun a couple inches from your face. and some crazy, frigging police officer that you don't know from adam is behind that gun. you don't know what's going to happen. >> i don't have any drugs, okay? >> the box with the cocaine in
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it was sitting on the floor. i wasn't looking at that box at all. i just told myself, this is exactly what he wants you to do. he wants you to be scared out of your mind and i said, i'm not going to give him what he wants. i said, i don't have any drugs. are you going to shoot me? he just looks at me. and then he goes -- >> take all your stuff and get out of here. >> just like that it was all over. >> i picked that box up and i thought, this is a good box. i found myself back in the united states and i was exuberant.
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i took the coke to a friend of mine that was selling lsd at the time. he tried some of the cocaine and he really liked it. >> that's awesome. >> you dig? >> he told me that if i could get him some of the cocaine from south america, he would front me some lsd to take down there. he gave me 500 doses of lsd. >> 500 hits. >> it was just so easy to hide. it was just a piece of paper no bigger than a letter. one dollar per dose of lsd in california. in south america, it might be worth $10 a dose. i figured i could get probably close to a kilo of coke from that amount of lsd. i could probably make somewhere around $20,000, maybe. i told him, yeah, let's just go ahead and do this thing.
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>> let's do it, yeah? >> within about four or five hours, i was headed back to south america. the coke had just totally distorted my mind. it was pretty much the dumbest thing i ever thought in my life. when e landed in lima, i went straight to the same hotel, and there was this guy named steve. he was from texas. >> what's cracking, man? >> not much. >> i told him that i wanted to try and get a kilo of coke and trade it for lsd, and he said he knew people down in chile that would do it. >> i think they'd be cool with that. >> i didn't know anybody down there that had any quantity of drugs. so it was pretty much the only option on the table.
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got on a bus the next day and headed south. >> we got a room in a small hotel. it was only maybe a block away from the center of town. steve said, well, i'm going to go out and see if i can find this friend of mine that i know and get a sample from him and bring it back to you. so you can see what we're talking about. he was gone for maybe an hour
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and he said that he had talked to his connection and that he'd be willing to do a trade for the lsd. and he had a small binnedel of cocaine that he had brought back as a sample. i wanted to make sure it was real, high-grade cocaine. and it was. but then he said, now you need to give me a sample of the lsd, so i can take it and show it to my connection. i was a little bit apprehensive, but i went and got my pack. and i showed him the piece of paper with the acid doses on it. i tore one of the doses off and gave it to him. >> i'll catch you later.
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>> i put it back in the book and put it back in my pack. that was really a big mistake, because when you have any kind of stash of drugs, if you have to show it to somebody, you never put it back in the same place. kinda shows, you know, i was just an amateur. he took off to go meet his connection. there wasn't much i could do. he was in control at that point. and it was his game. so i just had to sit back and wait, hoping that it was going to work out. i did a bunch of lines and my worries kind of went away, because i got high, you know. and then i heard some cars
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pulling up outside the room. i looked out the window and i saw a bunch of police. i knew they were there for a reason, and i was the reason. i was definitely trapped. my immediate reaction was to get rid of the evidence. i didn't want to go to jail at all. but they just kicked the door in. they pointed a gun at me and told me to put my hands up in the air. they pulled me into the main room, threw me on the ground, and cuffed me. they meant business. one of them was in the bathroom, trying to get the remnants of the coke out of the toilet or something, and i was hoping that they didn't know that i had the lsd. but then i see one of them pull
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this book out of my backpack. he took that acid out of there and he knew exactly what it was. i could tell by the look on his face that he had found what he came to find. i call it the "we gotcha" look. that's when i realized that my days were over. he took me to a central police office and threw me in a room. but i could see out in the hallway, and i saw steve and it just flashed in my mind. steve had been the one that had turned me in. and that he was working for
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i was just lost in this haze of, you know, terrible feelings. thinking, i'm going to be here until i'm over 30 years old. i'm going to lose the prime of my life. i was looking around, thinking, what's going on here? what kind of people are these? i thought about crystal and how nice it would be if i'd just
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stay there and got back to her. but my life as i knew it was over. >> we were let outside every morning probably about 7:00. i would walk around in the courtyard, just to get some exercise. they were all kinda staring at me, because they didn't see too many gringos coming to that jail. i mean, these guys were totally messed up, you know. and i immediately knew that there was no way that i could stay in this place for five years. the only way i was going to get out of there and not go crazy was to escape.
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i had heard about a man named chako in the jail. the guards took him serious because they knew that if they double-crossed him, there was a good chance he'd come back and kill them. i thought he'd be a good partner. i walked up next to him and started talking to him. chako liked to joke around and seemed like a pretty normal person to me. i told him that i wanted to finance an escape. >> are you serious? >> he told me he felt we could buy off the two guards in the tower for about $100 each. down there, the guards were probably only paid $3 a day. so $100 to them was a fair amount.
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but we also needed to bribe one of the guards on the inside, so we could get a key for the door going from the inside cell to the outside part of the jail. >> what do you think, gringo? >> chako seemed to know what he was doing. when you trusted somebody, you were taking a big chance. but i was willing to risk my life at a chance to get out of there. i wasn't going to be able to get out of there without any money. so i started writing letters to my parents pretty much begging for money. i was actually quite ashamed to write these letters. i had let them down quite a bit by getting myself involved in drugs in the first place. and then getting caught in a foreign country and thrown in
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jail. it was something i'm sure to their minds was just an unthinkable thing. eventually i got about $200 or $300. we had it pretty well planned out, exactly what we were going to do. chako had paid a guard to make a copy of the key to the gate through the bathroom that would let us outside. he kept it on himself. he found two guards that he knew would be willing to take the money and he thought would keep their word.
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but they rotated guards in the tower. so we had to wait until the two guards that we had picked were in the tower at the same time. it took about three or four weeks. they were putting us back in the cells and chako said, tonight's the night. we just went back into our cells like everything was normal. we didn't want anybody to sense that we were gonna try to get out of there that night. around 11:00, they would let the cells out one at a time to go into the bathroom. the plan was to, once everybody had cleared out of the bathroom, we were going to open up the door, go outside and climb the fence and get out of there.
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my cell was one of the last to be let out. when i went into the bathroom area, i saw chako was over in the corner. there was only one guard inside of the cell area. once you're in the bathroom, you're pretty much out of sight of the guard. it wasn't very long until they called the rest of the people back to their cells. once everybody was out of the bathroom, chako moved over to the gate real fast. and then slowly turned the key as quietly as he could.
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part of me was saying, this is crazy. you're gonna risk your life. you'll be fine. you just have to sit here in this jail for another five years. but i had this one chance and i just had to take it, no matter what. chako came out and shut the gate again, but he shut it a little bit too hard and there was a pretty big clang. i immediately thought, oh, this whole thing's going to end before it even starts. we knew that the guard inside had heard that clang, and i thought, we need to get down and hide. sure enough, the guard came over to the gate. i could tell that he thought something was wrong. i was just thinking, he's got to go back inside or we're done and this whole thing is just over with. ♪
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i have the hour's top stories. in california relatives of the san bernardino shooters were seen removing items from the couple's home on saturday. it's the same town home where investigators found an arsenal of ammunition and bombs after this month's attack that killed 14. a shooting at a ml in wisconsin triggered an evacuation. the teen is expected to be okay. now back to our programming. he was looking around. he could have been looking straight at me. i was scared out of my mind. my heart was beating about as fast as it could.
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to me, it sounded like there was this boom ka boom ka boom going on. i was almost afraid that he could hear my heart pounding. but he just turned around and went back inside. we started crawling. my adrenaline was pumping so fast. we were still worried about that guard inside maybe coming out if he heard something else. i felt like there was this weight in my body that was just slowing me down. once we got to the base of the fence, i looked at the guard up there in the tower. and that was when i thought to myself, well, if this guard is gonna decide to renege on us, or
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if he just goes bananas, he'll start shooting. but i just really didn't have any choice at that point. we just climbed up there inch by inch. the chain link fence, it's not the easiest thing in the world to climb up. we clawed our way up to the top and just kind of rolled over the barbed wire to the other side. but we still weren't out of the jail yet. we just started running. if they had decided to shoot us, there was nowhere to really hide. i needed to get to that outside wall as quick as possible. it was just a brick wall, only about eight feet tall. so we just climbed right over it immediately. we were -- landed in the street. we were in the town.
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we were out of the jail. and it was just a strange feeling. you know, we actually had made it. made it alive. ♪ chasko had arranged for a safe house. we had planned to stay there for a couple of weeks. we were in kind of a partying mood and we had a few drinks. >> we're free, man! >> we were really relieved that we had made it. but that feeling didn't last very long. the next morning, chasko brought back a little open newspaper, and there was my picture on the front page, big letters on top, daring gringo escape.
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once i saw it in print, my mind realized that they were going to do everything and anything they could to get me back in that jail. and we were really fugitives on the run. >> you are famous now. come on. >> i knew i wouldn't feel safe until i was out of that country. a man named enrique showed up at the house. chasko introduced him as a guy that could help me escape. but i couldn't trust anybody anymore. i felt like you had to give him some reason to help me get out of the country. so i convinced them that i had money on me. and that i also had money in a
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bank in la paz, bolivia. i was relying on their word that we could do this. the plan was that we would walk across the desert and eventually get into the mountains. they were telling me that it would be maybe ten days at the most. in retrospect, it was just totally insane. >> chasko and enrique were pretty much all business. they were trying to walk as fast as they could. i was trying to keep up with them.
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but it almost immediately hit me that this was not going to be easy. this was going to be a real physical test, and i wasn't in any kind of shape to be doing this. i was beginning to feel more and more unsure about what we had embarked on. ♪ the next day we got into a valley. they were becoming more and more annoyed with me, because i was falling further and further behind them on the trail. i was out in the wilderness with these two guys that i didn't really know. and i was becoming more and more a target of their wrath, rather
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than a partner of theirs. chasko started asking me for the money that i had. i told him, let's just keep going. you'll get your share of the money when the time comes. >> you will get your money, just keep walking. >> i think they had started to doubt the fact that i had money in bolivia. and chasko started becoming more insistent. i told him, just stay calm. >> take it easy, all right? >> he got mad. >> i want the money right now! >> he tried to knock me down. and my reflexes just kicked in. but then enrique got his revolver out.
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i was spinning chasko around, holding him by the neck. i had to use him as a shield to keep enrique from shooting me. then all of a sudden enrique lowered his weapon and darted behind a rock. i had no clue what was happening. i turned around and looked and down coming up the trail, up the valley, there were a couple of people on horses. i immediately thought they must be police. i let go of chasko and jumped down and hid behind a rock. eventually, the people on the horses made it up to where we were and then enrique went over and started talking to them. you could see that they were
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just civilians and they weren't the police. enrique turned around and said that they're going to supply us with horses up the canyon. at that point, i thought, well, great, i can get the money out and pay for the horses and everything it will be smooth again. but chasko turned around and said, you better keep up with us. because if you don't we're just going to leave you behind. after four or five hours, i couldn't even see them anymore. they were so far ahead of me on the trail. the trail was getting steeper and steeper, and my legs were getting so tired they could barely walk anymore. i really didn't have much gas left in the tank.
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i was getting more and more kinda delirious. then i saw a couple of structures up ahead. this had to be the place where we were supposed to meet the people with the horses. but the closer i got to the place, i just started getting this eerie feeling. the first thing i saw was a bunch of clothes and blankets strewn out on the ground. some of these were the blankets that we had brought with us. and then as i crawled further, i saw a couple of old people over a fire pit. as i got closer, i realized that there was like a body lying in the fire pit. it was brown and charcoaly-looking.
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and then i knew, it was chasko. my whole head just exploded. i just was -- it was just -- i couldn't believe it. i wanted to scream. i wanted to scream as loud as i could. but i just turned around and started running. a million thoughts started going through my mind and my head started spinning around and spinning around, and i just went and went and went. i was like a wounded animal just trying to get to a safe place. i thought, i need to get my head clear and figure out what i'm going to do next. at that point, i saw a barn.
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there was a farmer, and i went over and talked to him and asked him if i could sleep in his barn. i told him that i was a tourist and that i was lost. he kinda looked at me strangely, but he said, okay, yeah, go ahead. so i went in there and i pretty much just passed out. it must have been four or five hours later that i started hearing noises, like trucks driving by. i looked through the cracks in the wall, i could see that there were soldiers. they were talking to the farmer and i saw the farmer turn and point straight at the barn. and then i knew that the soldiers were coming any minute.
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the feeling of just helplessness started overtaking me. i could hear the sound of their gun holsters slapping on their thighs. and i felt like a condemned man, standing on the gallows, when they slowly tighten the noose around his neck. on the perfect car.is reseah gas mileage, horse power, torque ratios... three spreadsheets later, you finally bring home the one... then smash it into a tree. your insurance company is all too happy to raise your rates... maybe you should've done a little more research on them. for drivers with accident forgiveness, liberty mutual won't raise your rates due to your first accident. see car insurance in a whole new light. liberty mutual insurance.
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when they walked in that door with their guns drawn and pointed at me, the world just collapsed. they just moved right toward me and grabbed me and took me outside. and they surrounded me and started asking me who i was and what i was doing there. my mind started working overtime thinking, there must be some way
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i can get out of there. the first thing i thought, pretend like i'm not me. i just told them i was a french tourist and that had been hiking down from bolivia and i encountered these three bandiedos that had robbed me and stolen my money and my passport and hit me over the head and left me on the side of the road. and the more i talked, the better the story got, the more they seemed to believe it. but the next thing they told me, we're going to have to take you back to town and find out who exactly you really are. i was headed back to jail. and my mind started really racing. i was sitting in the back seat.
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we were getting closer and closer to the city. and i was running out of time. the policeman that was sitting on the right side, he had laid his gun on the open glove box. i thought to myself, well, i might be able to just lunge over the seat quickly and grab the gun. my mind was telling me, you can do this if you have to, but another part of my mind was thinking, you know, you don't want to do this. this is going to push everything into a whole new level. i had to make a decision quick. i was really just about to grab the gun when they pulled over. it was a cocinera. a place where they specialize in
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chicken. so i said, can i buy you chicken and beers? we were in there for 15 or 20 minutes, and they were starting to get even a little bit loose. so i asked them if it was all right if i went to the rest room. one of them said okay. he went with me and looked inside and said, all right, it looks all right, you can go in there. so i went inside the rest room, and he walked back to the table. i started looking around and the first thing i saw was that there was a window. i took the waste basket, stood on it. i just pulled myself up there and flew out the window.
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i started running across the rooftops. i didn't know where i was going. i just knew that i had to get away from them. i saw a cab sitting there. i just got in the back seat and the driver turned around and he goes, you are the man that escaped from the jail. i was running out of options. i had to do something. i had to trust somebody. and i said, yeah, that's me. and he said, well, where can i take you? do you have somewhere to hide? i just need to get out of the country. >> can you take me to the border? >> yeah, okay, come on, come on.
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>> i thought to myself, this is very odd. because everybody i've met so far just wanted to kill me. i just laid there and i couldn't see where we were going or what we were doing. at some point, he pulled off the main road and told me, all right, we're here, good luck. i knew that tomorrow was going to be a new day and a whole new world was going to be in front of me. ♪
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>> escaping was the only way that i was ever going to get back to life and become a normal human being again. msnbc takes you behind the walls of america's most notorious prisons. to a world of chaos and danger. now, the scenes you've never seen. "lock up: raw." ask any lockup producer where to find the most drama and tension inside prison, and the answer is usually, intake. the place new inmates cross the

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