TONIGHT ON METROFOCUS

The opioid epidemic is exploding on Long Island with overdoses claiming a record number of lives in the area. The startling statistics in this community are contributing to a nationwide crisis. Nassau County Executive, Laura Curran, is here with the details on the problem and an update on the fight to end addiction on Long Island. A growing number of upstate New York inmates are granted parole from prison, allowing them to return home to New York City. But, a NY1 investigation reveals that those inmates do not have a home to go to and are destined for a dismal and dangerous life in the city’s shelter system. Spectrum NY1 News reporter Courtney Gross is here to share her investigation into the New York prison to shelter pipeline. The television icon’s real life neighbor introduces us in the documentary “Mister Rogers & Me.” Benjamin Wagner, writer, producer and director of the film, is here to explain why Mister Rogers still matters.

Aired on March 15, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS.'

THE OPIOD EPIDEMIC IS EXPLODING ON LONG ISLAND AND TAKING LIVES IN ITS WAKE.

WE'LL HAVE DETAILS ON THE PROBLEM AND AN UPDATE ON THE FIGHT TO END THE SCOURGE.

> AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE GROWING NUMBER OF INMATES GRANTED PAROLE, BUT DESTINED FOR A DISMAL AND DANGEROUS LIFE IN THE CITY'SST ROGERS STILL MATTERS, THE EDUCATION ICON'S REAL LIFE NEIGHBOR INTRODUCES US TO FRED.

ALL THAT AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS.'

WITH RAFAEL P. RAMON, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANNIGAN.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY --

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS ALSO PROVIDED BY THE J.P.B.

FOUNDATION AND THE FORD FOUNDATI

> GOOD EVENING AND WE 'METROFOCUS,' I'M RAFAEL P.

RAMON.

ACCORDING TO RECENT NUMBERS FROM THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL, OVERDOSES FROM OPIODS JUMP BY 30% IN JUST ONE YEAR.

OVERDOSES ARE UP ACROSS EVERY AGE GROUP AND IN EVERY REGION OF THE COUNTRY, INCLUDING OURS.

LONG ISLAND HAS BEEN HIT ESPECIALLY HARD.

ACCORDING TO OFFICIAL REPORTS, ABOUT 600 LONG ISLANDERS DIED FROM OPIOD OVERDOSES LAST YEAR ALONE.

ONE COMMUNITY AT THE HEART OF THE CRISIS IN LONG ISLAND IS MASSAPEQUA IN NASSAU COUNTY.

AND FUJOINING ME NOW IS NASSAU COUNTY EXECUTIVE LAURA P. HEARN TO TALK TO US ABOUT THE PROBLEM.

ARE YOU SURPRISED ABOUT OPIOD OVERDOSES ON LONG ISLAND, PARTICULARLY IN YOUR COUNTY?

WE REALLY DO HAVE A MUSHRMUSHROOM ING EPIDEMIC, LAST YEAR WE HAD NEARLY 300 OVERDOSES AND 200 OF THEM WERE FATAL.

IF WE HAD THAT MANY PEOPLE GETTING MURDERED IN OUR COUNTY, THERE WOULD BE SUCH OUTRAGE.

SO LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE SOLUTIONS, YOU HAVE RECENTLY INTRODUCED A PROGRAM CALLED O.D. MAP.

TELL US WHAT THAT IS AND HOW IT'S HELPING TO DEAL WITH THIS CRISIS.

SURE.

OUR POLICE COMMISSIONER PATRICK RIDER CAME ONE THIS O.D. MAP.

AND IT BASICALLY TARGETING CRIMES ASSOCIATED WITH DRUG USE, LIKE CAR BREAK INS, ROBBERIES AND WHEN YOU HAVE A CLUSTER OF THOSE KINDS OF EVENTS HAPPENING, OVERDOSES AND LARCENIES, YOU KNOW YOU'VE GOT A PROBLEM THERE.

AND SO WE'RE BRINGING OUR POLICE FORCE IN TO -- WE'RE WORKING ON AWARENESS AND TREATMENT AS WELL.

AND WE'RE WORKING VERY HARD ON FILLING A TREATMENT GAP.

BECAUSE SOMEONE CAN BE TREATED WITH A MEDICINE CALLED NARCAN FROM AN OVERDOSE.

AND THEN THERE'S NO TREATMENT.

THEY'RE PUT RIGHT BACK ON THE STREET TO START USING AGAIN.

GOING BACK TO O.D. MAP, TO WHAT DEGREE DOES THAT GO TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AND ARRESTS, TO WHAT DEGREE DOES THAT DEAL WITH THE TREATMENT YOU SAY IS NECESSARY?

THAT'S SUCH A GREAT QUESTION.

WE HAVE HAD AN OPPORTUNITY, TWO SO FAR, ONE IN MASSAPEQUA, THERE WERE ABOUT 60 ARRESTS, DRUG RELATED ARRESTS, OF THOSE, FOUR WERE DEALERS, SO THEY WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

THOSE USERS, THOSE ADDICTS, ONCE THEY'RE ARRESTED, WE CAN STEER THEM TOWARDS DIVERSION AND TREATMENT, SO THAT'S WHERE THE HEALTH PROFESSIONALS COME IN.

LAST WEEK WE HAD AN OP-ED, AND YOU'RE DOING A GREAT JOB, AND MORE TREATMENT, MORE RESOURCES ARE NECESSARY.

ARE YOU GETTING THE NECESSARY RESOURCES FROM THE STATE, FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO DEAL WITH THIS IN NASSAU COUNTY?

WE HAVE TO HARNESS THE RESOURCES WE HAVE AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW, MAKE THE MOST OF WHAT WE HAVE GOT.

WE HAVE TO REALLY ENGAGE IN OUR SCHOOLS.

AND THAT'S THE CONVERSATION WE'RE HAVING NOW.

IN NASSAU, WE HAVE 56 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICTS, THEY'RE THEIR OWN ENTITIES, SO WE'RE ENGAGING WITH EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM TO TRY AND TACKLE THIS CRISIS.

SO THIS CRISIS, THE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS SAID, IT IS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT TO HIM, HAS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN FACT DEMONSTRATED THAT THIS IS A CRISIS AND HELP YOUSU SUFFICIENTLY?

WE ARE WORKING WITH THE STATE, BUT WE'RE ALSO WORKING VERY CLOSELY WITH OUR COMM COMMU COMMUNITIES.

SO WE'RE HAVING COMMUNITY FORUMS, WE HAD ONE IN MASSAPEQUA WHERE SCORES OF RESIDENTS TURNED OUT.

THEY'RE LISTENING TO OUR POLICE OFFICERS, THEY'RE LISTENING TO OUR DRUG RESOURCE EXPERTS.

GETTING THEM THE INFORMATION THEY NEED, SO WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS, THOSE PIN PRICK PUPILS, FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE ON OPIODS.

BECAUSE ALL TOO OFTEN A CHILD HAS DIED AND THE PARENT NEVER YOU THEIR CHILD WAS USING, OR THEIR FRIENDS KNEW BUT NEVER TOLD.

SO WE'RE REALLY TRYING TO GET PEOPLE TO BE AWARE AND THAT'S THE EDUCATION PIECE.

WHAT'S MAKING THIS CRISIS PARTICULARLY DEADLY, WHAT'S KILLING PEOPLE IS THIS SYNTHETIC OPIOD, FENTANYL.

FENTANYL IS MANY TIMES STRONGER THAN HEROIN AND MORE PURE, AND THAT'S WHY WE'RE SEEING THE SPIKE IN OVERDOSES.

THE NARCAN, IS A GOD SEND BECAUSE IF SOMEONE'S OVERDOSING, YOU CAN TREAT THEM WITH NARCAN, THEY'RE BACK IMMEDIATELY.

BUT IF THEY DON'T HAVE THE TREATMENT PART, THEY GO BACK IMMEDIATELY.

SOME SAY THERE'S AN UNINTENDED NEGATIVE ASPECT TO NARCON BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE THAT IT WILL SAVE THEM FROM AN OPIOD DEATH, AND THAT MAKES THEM EASE UP ON THE CONCERNS.

ARE YOU FINDING THAT?

ABSOLUTELY.

YOU HEAR ABOUT THESE INCIDENTS, THESE ANECDOTES OF PEOPLE GETTING TOGETHER, THEY'RE DOING HEROIN, OR FENTANYL OR WHATEVER IT IS, AND THERE'S NARCAN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TABLE THERE, SO THEY CAN TREAT THEM AND GO RIGHT ON TO PARTYING AGAIN.

IT'S A PROBLEM.

IT'S A REAL DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD.

IT A GOD SEND, BECAUSE IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE AND PUT YOU ON THE RIGHT PATH.

BUT WE'RE HEARING FROM OUR POLICE OFFICERS AND OUR FIREFIGHTERS, ALL OF OUR FIRST RESPONDERS ARE TRAINED IN HOW TO USE THIS.

SO YOU OVERDOSE ON FRIDAY, YOU OVERDOSE ON SATURDAY, BY SUNDAY YOU'RE USING AGAIN AND BY MONDAY YOU'RE DEAD.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

IS THIS CRISIS GOING TO GET WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER?

I THINK WE ARE A HOLD OF IT.

WE ARE HAPPY WITH THE POLICE COMMISSIONER MAKING THIS MAP, TO REALLY ZERO IN, HOLD THE DEALERS ACCOUNTABLE AND GET THE ADDICTS THE TREATMENT THEY NEED TO GET THEM OUT OF THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF ADDICTION.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY, IT BEEN AN IMPORTANT CONVERSATION.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

> EVERY YEAR THOUSANDS OF INMATES IN UPSTATE PRISONS ARE GRANTED PAROLE, ALLOWING THEM TO RETURN HOME TO NEW YORK CITY.

BUT WITH THAT NEWFOUND FREEDOM COMES PROFOUND CHALLENGES, A NEW Y YORK -- THE INVESTIGATION WAS LED BY POLITICAL REPORTER COURTNEY GROSS.

TONIGHT AS PART OF OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE, ON POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY.

HERE'S A LOOK.

IT'S A CRISP 34 DEGREES AND CHRISTOPHER KAMINSKI DOESN'T HAVE A COAT.

IT'S A LITTLE OVERWHELMING RIGHT NOW, YOU KNOW?

MY FIRST DAY OUT.

JUST SWEAT PANTS AND A SWEATSHIRT TO HIS NAME, THE SAME CLOTHES HE WORE FOR RECREATION INSIDE THIS STATE PRISON HOURS EARLIER.

HE WAS JUST RELEASED AFTER SPENDING ABOUT NINE YEARS BEHIND BARS.

HE WAS GIVEN A SINGLE RIDE METRO CARD AND $40.

THEN PRISON OFFICIALS SENT HIM ON HIS WAY.

THE BEGINNING OF A LONG PATH TO GET A PERMANENT BED.

AFTER NEARLY A DECADE, MRS.

KAMINSKI'S FIRST STOP BACK INTO SOCIETY.

IT'S LIKE WE'RE CATTLE, YOU KNOW, WE GO FROM HOLDING AREA TO ANOTHER HOLDING AREA.

BUT AT LEAST HERE YOU GOT AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET OUT THERE AND DO SOMETHING AND TRY TO MAKE IT.

THOUSANDS HAVE BEEN RIGHT HERE BEFORE, A NEW YORK ONE INVESTIGATION HAS UNCOVERED THAT THE NEW YORK CITY SHELTER SYSTEM HAS BECOME A TOP DESTINATION FOR INMATES LEAVING STATE PRISON.

MORE AND MORE OF THESE PAROLEES ARE COMING FROM UPSTATE PRISONS RIGHT INTO THE SHELTER SYSTEM.

IN 2014, ABOUT 9,300 TIMES, AN INMATE LEFT A STATE PRISON TO RETURN TO NEW YORK CITY.

23% OF THE TIME, THAT FORMER INMATE WENT STRAIGHT INTO A NEW YORK CITY HOMELESS SHELTER.

IN 2015, THAT NUMBER GREW.

MORE INMATES WERE HEADING TO SHELTER.

AND IT WENT UP AGAIN IN 2016.

IN 2017, MORE THAN HALF THE TIME, 54%, THEY WERE HEADING TO A HOMELESS SHELTER.

THAT MEANS LAST YEAR WHEN AN INMATE GOT PAROLED AND CAME BACK TO THE FIVE BOROUGHS, EVERY OTHER TIME, THAT INMATE WENT STRAIGHT INTO A HOMELESS SHELTER.

IT MEANS ON AVERAGE, 11 TIMES A DAY, SOMEONE IS REPORTING FROM PRISON TO HILSHELTER, SOMETIMES AFTER SPENDING DECADES BEHIND BARS.

IN BROOKLYN, A SHELTER RESIDENT WHO DID NOT WANT TO BE SHOWN ON CAMERA SHOWED US HIS PAROLE PAPER WORK, AFTER 30 YEARS OF BEING LOCKED UP FOR MURDER, HE WAS SENT STRAIGHT TO THE BELLEVUE SHELTER.

THE SAME PLACE KAMINSKI WAS SENT.

HE'S BEEN SENT UPSTATE SEVERAL TIMES IN 26 YEARS.

THE CHARGES WERE ROBBERY RELATED OF VARYING DEGREES.

HE HAD A PRACTICE OF HOLDING SOMEONE UP TO GET MONEY TO BUY DRUGS, TO BUY HEROIN, SOMETHING HE FIRST TRIED AT 13 YEARS OLD.

THIS TIME HE HOPED TO GET INTO A PROGRAM CALLED THE DOUGH FUND.

NO ONE SHOULD STAY IN A SHELTER.

A LOT OF DRUGS IN THESE PLACES.

AND DRUGS ARE DEFINITELY KAMINSKI'S PROBLEM.

FRESH OUT OF PRISON, HE'S THRUST INTO A SYSTEM THAT'S FLOODED WITH THE SAME VICE.

A DAY IN AND HE'S TRANSFERRED HERE.

THE BEDFORD ATLANTIC ARMORY IN BROOKLYN.

WHEN WE MET HIM OUTSIDE OF THE SHELTER, A WEEK INTO FREEDOM AND HOMELESSNESS, THE SYSTEM WAS ALL RIGHT WEARING HIM DOWN.

I HAD THIS ONE PLAN, I WAS READY, WILLING AND ABLE.

NOW I'M STUCK HERE, AND I DON'T WANT TO BE HERE, I WANTED TO BE ALREADY DOING SOMETHING.

HE WAITS TO HEAR BACK FROM THAT PROGRAM TRYING TO STAY SOBER.

THERE IS BOREDOM AND NOTHING TO DO, ANGER FRUSTRATION.

[ BLEEP ] IT'S LIKE I'M ON A MISSION.

BUT I'M GOING TO RIDE IT OUT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

HIS RESOLVE FAILS.

THE NEXT MORNING, KAMINSKI BRO BOUGHT OF BAG OF HEROIN FOR $6, HE BOUGHT IT ON THE SECOND FLOOR OF THE BEDFORD ARMORY SHELTER.

SOMEBODY SAID I GOT A BAG FOR $6, ANYBODY INTERESTED?

I SAID YOU KNOW WHAT?

I HAVEN'T HAD ANY IN ABOUT 10 YEARS.

I'M STRESSED OUT, HATING THIS PLACE.

SO I GET THIS BAG TO EASE SOME OF THE STRESS.

IT DIDN'T DO NOTHING, JUST MADE THINGS WORSE.

THE RELAPSE PUT KAMCAM KAMIN CHANCES OF GOING INTO THE BEDFORD CENTER IN JEOPARDY.

EVERY TIME I COMMITTED A CRIME, IT WAS FOR HEROIN, MONEY FOR HEROIN.

HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK ABOUT IT NOW?

ALL THE TIME.

I'M 50 YEARS OLD, 20 YEARS JUST WENT BY.

AT THE SHELTER, KAMINSKI SAYS HE'S OFTEN IDLE WITH NOWHERE TO GO, FILLING THE DAYS BY WALKING, RIDING THE TRAIN, SCRAPING BY ON VOUCHERS FOR CLOTHES.

AND FREE MAEALS FROM CHURCHES.

HE'S TRYING TO JADJUST TO HIS NW REALITY, FROM INMATE TO HOMELESS.

FROM A WARD OF THE STATE, TO THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CITY.

IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE, WE WILL INVESTIGATE IT AND WE APPRECIATE ANY INFORMATION YOU CAN GIVE US ABOUT IT.

WE ARE OURSELVES FOCUSING ON RECONNECTING PAROLEES TO THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY IN THE COMMUNITY SO THEY DON'T END UP IN A SHELTER AND WE CERTAINLY WELCOME ANY HELP FROM THE STATE OR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

WE HAVE EVEN SEEN FOLKS WHO ARE COMING IN FROM THE SHELTERS OR PRISONS WHO HAVE ADDRESSES THEY THINK THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO GO TO, AND THEY'RE EITHER NOT APPROVED YET OR DENIED.

IT MAKES THE PAROLE OFFICER'S JOB EASIER TO KEEP ALL OF THEIR CLIENTS IN THE SAME PLACE.

WE HAVE REACHED OUT TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND COMMUNITY SUPERVISION TO GO ON CAMERA FOR THIS STORY.

THEY DECLINED.

BUT A SPOKESMAN ARGUES SHELTERS ARE OFTEN JUST TEMPORARY FOR THESE PAROLEES.

HE SAYS THAT AT ANY GIVEN TIME, THERE ARE 60 PAROLEES IN THE SHELTER SYSTEM, SUGGESTING THAT THE POPULATION IS FLUID.

HE COULD NOT TELL US THE AVERAGE LENGTH OF STAY FOR THE AVERAGE PAROLEE.

RE-ENTRY SERVICES BEGIN FOUR MONTHS BEFORE A RELEASE DATE AND THEY WORK WITH INDIVIDUALS TO EXHAUST ALL POSSIBLE HOUSING OPTIONS BEFORE TRANSFERRING THE RESPONSIBILITY TO THE CITY.

THEY SAY THEY CONTINUE TO WORK WITH THEM TO FIND PERMANENT HOUSING SOLUTIONS.

IT'S THOSE SOLUTIONS KAMINSKI AND OTHERS LIKE HIM WOULD LIKE TO SEE.

IT'S HARD, GUYS, THEY CAN'T GO ANYWHERE, THEY GOT NO MONEY, THEY CAN'T GO NOTHING.

AND JOINING ME NOW IS NEW YORK ONE POLITICAL REPORTER COURTNEY GROSS.

COURTNEY, THAT WAS AN AMAZING PIECE.

THANK YOU.

INCREDIBLY INFORMATIVE.

BUT I HAVE TO SAY DEPRESSING.

YES.

HOW DID YOU GET CONNECTED WITH CHRISTOPHER KAMINSKI?

ONCE I FOUND OUT THIS PROBLEM WAS HAPPENING IN OCTOBER OF LAST YEAR, WE SPENT A LOT OF TIME HANGING OUT OUTSIDE OF SHELTERS, LOOKING FOR SOMEONE WHO WAS ON PAROLE, WHO HAD JUST BEEN RELEASED, WHO WAS EXPERIENCING THESE PROBLEMS, GOING THROUGH THE SHELTER SYSTEM OR JUST TRYING TO DETAIL THEIR EXPERIENCE IN THE SHELTER SYSTEM AND I HAD BEEN HANGING OUT OUTSIDE OF THE BELLEVUE SHELTER ONE DAY, IT WAS A VERY COLD JANUARY AFTERNOON AND I SAW ONE WALKING DOWN THE STREET IN A MAROON SWEATSHIRT AND I SAID TO MYSELF, THAT PERSON MUST HAVE JUST GOTTEN OUT.

SO I GUESS HE MUST HAVE KNOWN THAT HE WAS HEADING TO A HOMELESS SHELTER.

BUT WHAT'S YOUR SENSE?

DO YOU THINK THAT HE WAS PREPARED FOR THE DIFFICULT TRANSITION THAT WAS AWAITING HIM SUFFICIENTLY?

ABSOLUTELY NOT.

THE STATE WILL TELL YOU THAT THEY START RE-ENTRY SERVICES FOUR MONTHS BEFORE ANYONE IS RELEASED.

NOW KAMINSKI, IN PREPARATION FOR THAT RELEASE WAS TRANSFERRED TO THE QUEENS BOROUGH CORRECTIONAL FACILITY IN QUEENS WHERE HE HAD BEEN MADE AWARE OF CERTAIN SERVICES THAT WERE AVAILABLE TO HIM LIKE THE DOUGH FUND OR THE OSBORNE ASSOCIATION OR THE FORTUNE SOCIETY AND HE HAD SET HIS SIGHTS ON THE DOE FUND, THIS SHELTER PROGRAM THROUGHOUT THE CITY.

AND HE EXPECTED IT TO HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY.

HE TOLD ME WHEN I MET HIM THAT HE WOULD BE TRANSFERRED TO THE DOUGH CENTER THE NEXT DAY AND THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN.

THE NUMBER OF PAROLEES THAT HAVE GONE FROM PRISONS TO SHELTERS HAVE DOUBLED SINCE 2014, WHY IS THAT?

INITIALLY THEY DIDN'T GIVE US A REASON.

THEY SAID THEY DIDN'T UNDERSTAND WHY IT WAS HAPPENING.

IT WASN'T UNTIL A FEW DAYS AFTER THE STORY RAN WHEN THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE STARTED TALKING TO US ABOUT IT WHEN THEY BLAMED IT ON THE FACT THAT THREE-QUARTER HOUSES WERE SHUT DOWN.

AND INTERESTINGLY IT BECAME THIS POLITICAL THING THAT IT WAS THE MAYOR THAT SHUT DOWN THOSE THREE-QUARTER HOUSES, THEREFORE IT WASN'T THE STATE'S FAULT, IT WAS THE MAYOR'S FAULT.

AND PREDICTABLY, PERHAPS THE MAYOR USED YOUR PIECE TO BASH ALBANY AND BALBANY BASHED THE MAYOR AND THE PROBLEM REMAINS.

BUT OBVIOUSLY THE CRIMES THAT CHRISTOPHER KAMINSKI COMMITTED WERE TO GET DRUGS.

HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE ON ANY LEVEL?

IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.

WHEN PEOPLE ARE GETTING OUT OF PRISON, REALLY THE RE-ENTRY INTRODUCE SHOULD BE STARTING THE DAY SOMEONE ENTERS PRISON, IT SHOULDN'T NECESSARILY BE STARTING FOUR MONTHS BEFORE THEY LEAVE.

.

IT'S THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT THE MAN NEEDS, CORRECT?

AND AS WE SAW HE SUCCUMBED TO HEROIN?

HE DID.

HOW CAN HE TALK ABOUT THAT ON TELEVISION BEING A PAROLEE AND NOT GET SENT BACK TO JAIL.

HE WAS HESITANT TO TALK ABOUT HIS RELAPSE, AND WHEN I SAID IT WAS AN IMPORTANT STORY AND IT WAS HIGHLIGHTING AN ISSUE THAT WAS GOING ON IN THE STATE.

AND HE ALSO SAID THAT WHEN HE'S GONE THROUGH PAROLE SEVERAL TIMES, TYPICALLY A PAROLEE IS GIVEN SEVERAL BAD URINE TESTS, SEVERAL CHANCES BEFORE THEY'RE SENT BACK.

AND AS WE SAID, CHRISTOPHER IS DEMORALIZED.

I GUESS HE'S TYPICAL OF PEOPLE WHO END UP IN THE SHELTERS?

AS PART OF THIS STORY WE TALKED TO A LOT OF PAROLEES NOT JUST KAMINSKI, AND THEY TELL THE SAME STORY, THAT THEY'RE ESSENTIALLY SET UP TO FAIL, THEY'RE ENTERING A SYSTEM WITH DRUGS AND VIOLENCE AND THERE'S NO WAY FOR THEM TO GET BACK ON THEIR FEET AND GET A JOB AND TRY TO START THEIR LIFE ALL OVER AGAIN.

HAVE YOU STAYED IN CONTACT WITH CHRISTOPHER?

HOW'S HE DOING NOW?

WE SPOKE TO HIM LAST WEEK AND HE WAS TRANSFERRED TO A DIFFERENT SHELTER AND THE DA WAS TRYING TO GET HIM INTO A 28-DAY PROGRAM.

SO THAT WOULD BE A GOOD THING FOR HIM.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

♪ IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY ♪ IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY ♪ IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD ♪ ♪ A BEAUTIFUL DAY FOR A NEIGHBOR ♪ ♪ WOULD YOU BE MINE ♪ COULD YOU BE MINE ♪ IT'S A NEIGHBORLY DAY IN THIS BEAUTYWOOD ♪ ♪ A NEIGHBORLY DAY FOR A BEAUTY ♪ ♪ WOULD YOU BE MINE ♪ COULD YOU BE MINE

IT IS 50 YEARS AGO SINCE FRED ROGERS STROLLED THROUGH THAT FRONT DOOR MAKING HIS DEBUT.

MR. ROGERS NEIGHBORHOOD WOULD BECOME THE LONGEST RUNNING TELEVISION SERIES IN HISTORY.

HIS TALENT AND HIS ADVOCACY WOULD LATER LEAD TO A PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM.

BEYOND THE LIMELIGHT, WHAT ABOUT THE MAN HIMSELF?

FILMMAKER AND JOURNALIST BENJAMIN WAGNER KNOWS FIRSTHAND, THANKS TO A CHANCE ENCOUNTER ON NANTUCKET.

AND AFTER ROGERS DEATH IN 2003, WAGNER WOULD EEMBARK ON A JOURNEY TO MEET THOSE WHO NEW HIM BEST.

AND IT'S ALL PART OF HIS PIECE CALLED 'MR. ROGERS AND ME.'

LATER MR. ROGERS AND I STOOD ON THE BACK PORCH OF THE CROOKED HOUSE STARING OUT TO SEA.

HE ASKED ME ABOUT MY JOB AND QUITE FRANKLY, I WAS A LITTLE EMBARRASSED.

I MEAN HERE HE IS, THE WORLD'S BEST KNOWN NEIGHBOR.

ME AS ONE TIME EDITOR OF THE HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER, AND SOMETIME SINGER-SONGWRITER, MY DAY JOB MADE A LOT OF SENSE, BUT I HAD MY MOMENTS OF AMBIVALENCE TOO.

THE MTV WORLD, TRYING TO FIGURE OUT JUST WHAT I COULD DO TO MAKE IT A BETTER PLACE.

MR. ROGERS DIDN'T RENDER ANY JUDGMENT BUT SAID SIMPLY, I FEEL DEEP AND STRONGLY THAT DEEP AND SIMPLE IS FAR MORE ESSENTIALLY THAN SHALLOW AND COMPLEX.

AND I'M PLEASED TO WELCOME MR. ROGERS NEIGHBOR TO THE PROGRAM.

YOU AND I WERE TALKING BEFORE HAND, MY CHILDREN NOW 35 AND 31, THEY BOTH GREW UP TO MR. ROGERS.

THAT BEING SAID, LET ME ASK YOU TO ELABORATE ON WHAT WE JUST SAW.

HOW IS IT THAT YOU CAME THEN TO MEET FRED ROGERS?

MR. ROGERED SUMMERED IN A TINY COTTAGE OFF OF NANTUCKET, AWAY FROM THE RESORTIE UPSCALE PLACE THAT PEOPLE THINK OF, WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN MY EXPERIENCE THERE.

AND MY MOTHER RENTED A TINY COTTAGE NEXT DOOR, SHE HAS FOR YEARS.

AND SHE SAID YOU'LL NEVER BELIEVE WHO I JUST MET ON THE BEACH.

SHE WAS STUDYING FOR THEOLOGY AND AS YOU KNOW, HE WAS AN ORDAINED MINISTER.

AND THEY STRUCK UP A CONVERSATION WHICH WAS NOT AT ALL UNUSUAL FOR HIM.

AND AS PARENTS WILL DO, THEY TALKED ABOUT MY BROTHER AND I, MY BROTHER ALSO WORKS IN BROADCAST.

AND SAID YOU SHOULD COME MEET HIM.

THE TRUTH IS I DON'T KNOW IF I RAN RIGHT OUT THERE, OR IF IT WAS LATER, BUT I WENT OUT TO NANTUCKET TO MEET HIM AND AS I STOOD ON THAT BACK PORCH, HE SAID SPREAD THE MESSAGE AND HERE I AM, FAST FORWARDING, 10, PLUS, 15, 16 YEARS, MULTIPLE YEARS OF MAKING THE FILM, PLAYING JUST A TEENY ROLE IN TRYING TO REMIND PEOPLE WHAT A REMARKABLE SPECIAL HUMAN BEING HE WAS.

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE DEEP AND SIMPLE, AS HE SAID IS FAR MORE ESSENTIAL THAN SHALLOW AND COMPLEX.

WHAT DID THAT MEAN TO YOU WHEN HE FIRST SAID IT TO YOU AND DID IT COME TO MEAN ANYTHING DIFFERENT TO YOU?

TO ME IT CAME TO MEAN THREE THINGS, ONE THE IDEA THAT OUR DOMINANT CULTURE IS REALLY MOVING TOWARDS SHALLOW AND COMPLEX.

AND THAT HUMANITY AND EITHER THE CORE ESSENCE OF WHO WE ARE IS REALLY QUITE PROFOUND AND QUITE SIMPLE.

BEING CONNECTED TO SOMETHING GREATER THAN OURSELVES TO PAUSING PERIODICALLY TO REFLECT ON THAT

AND WE DON'T PAUSE VERY OFTEN IN OUR LIVES.

SILENT, THAT'S WHAT MADE THAT PLACE SO SPECIAL, AND WHAT MADE HIM SO SPECIAL.

AND JUST BEING WARY OF MATERIAL, AND BEING KCOG ANY ZACHBT OF WHT DEFINES US.

WHAT DID YOU FIND THAT WOULD MAKE HIM BECOME SUCH AN IMPORTANT PART OF PEOPLE'S LIVES?

AND I'M TALKING ABOUT MYSELF AND MY WIFE AND OUR TWO CHILDREN FOR SO MANY YEARS.

MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT THERE'S NOT ONE INCH OF THAT SHOW THAT IS A MISTAKE, EVERY WORD WAS DISCUSSED AND REASONED BY PROFESSIONAL COLLABORATORS, SO IT WAS INTENTIONAL AND THOUGHTFUL AND HONED.

BUT ULTIMATELY, I COULD GET RIGHT BACK TO THE THESIS WHICH IS DEEP AND SIMPLE.

I COULD SIT AND TALK WITH YOU ABOUT THESE THINGS FOR AS LONG AS YOU WANT.

BECAUSE ULTIMATELY WE ALL RECOGNIZE SOME PLACE THAT ISN'T IN TEXT MESSAGE OR IN TRAFFIC, THESE ARE THE IMPORTANT THINGS.

AT LEAST THAT'S WHAT HE PROVIDED FOR ME, A GROUNDING THAT'S A VERY CORE VALUES THAT ARE TIMELESS.

AGAIN, IT'S CALLED 'MR.

ROGERS AND ME.'

IT'S A WONDERFUL LOOK AT A WONDERFUL MAN, BENJAMIN YOU DID A GREAT JOB WITH IT.

I KNOW IT IS STILL A JOURNEY FOR YOU.

I APPRECIATE YOU SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US.

THANK YOU.

> FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY -- .

> CORPORATE FUNDING FOR 'METROFOCUS' WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF AMERICA, YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY.

AND BY PSE&G, SERVING CUSTOMERS, STRENGTHENING THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND INVESTING IN THE FUTURE.

♪ IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD ♪ ♪ A BEAUTIFUL DAY FOR A NEIGHBOR ♪ ♪ WOULD YOU BE MINE ♪ COULD YOU BE MINE ♪ WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR ♪ WON'T YOU PLEASE ♪ WON'T YOU PLEASE

©2022 WNET. All Rights Reserved. 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019

WNET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID: 26-2810489