METROFOCUS: MARCH 10, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, details the latest on the timeline for a vaccine. A team of scientists specializing in viral medicine probes whether this outbreak could have been avoided. Dr. Bob Arnot is back with new safety tips you haven’t already heard. We’ll hear stories from a group of incarcerated men and women who are turning their lives around in Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s documentary film series, “College Behind Bars.”

Aired on March 10, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON METROFOCUS.

FIGHTING CORONAVIRUS.

AS THE CITY OF NEW YORK BEGINS TESTING IN THE FIVE BUREAUS, THE GOVERNMENT CONFIRMS A TESTING SHELL.

ALL THIS AFTER CUOMO ANNOUNCED THE STATE'S EFFORT TO YOUR SEARCH FOR HAND SANITIZER BY MANUFACTURING IT AND OFFERING IT FREE.

A LOCAL TEAM OF SCIENTISTS PROBE WHETHER THE OUTBREAK COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED.

AND DR. BOB ARNA IS BACK WITH TIPS ON HOW TO TELL IF YOUR COUGH IS JUST ALLERGIES FOR SOMETHING MORE.

> THEN A GROUP OF INCARCERATED MEN AND WOMEN SHARE THEIR STORIES OF TURNING THEIR LIFE AROUND UNDER THE MOST CHALLENGING CIRCUMSTANCES.

INSIDE ONE OF THE MOST RIGOROUS AND EFFECTIVE PRISON EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN THE COUNTRY.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS METROFOCUS STARTS RIGHT NOW.

> THIS IS METROFOCUS, WITH RAFAEL P. ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISH.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROZALINE WALTER AND BY -- NEW ROCHELLE IS A PARTICULAR PROBLEM.

THE NUMBERS CONTINUE TO GO UP.

THE NUMBERS ARE GOING UP UNABATED, AND WE DO NEED A SPECIAL PUBLIC HEALTH STRATEGY FOR NEW ROCHELLE.

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO METROFOE CAUSE.

THE STATE AND CITY ARE RAMPING UP THE FIGHT AGAINST CORONAVIRUS, WHICH HAS AFFECTED MORE THAN 170 NEW YORKERS AS OF TUESDAY AFTERNOON.

THE GOVERNOR HAS ANNOUNCED A ONE MILE CONTAINMENT ZONE, AN AREA HE SAYS HAS QUOTE PROBABLY THE LARGEST CLUSTER OF THESE CASES IN THE UNITED STATES.

HIS FOCUS NOT ON CONTAINING PEOPLE, BUT RATHER LARGE GATHERING SPACES LIKE SCHOOLS AND HOUSES OF WORSHIP.

THEY WILL BE CLOSED FOR TWO WEEKS STARTING THURSDAY.

AMID SUPPLY SHORTAGES, CUOMO ALSO SAYS THE STATE IS MAKING ITS OWN BRAND OF HAND SANITIZER WHICH WILL BE PROVIDED NATIONWIDE.

HERE IN THE CITY, THE MAYOR SAYS THE ABILITY TO TEST FOR THE VIRUS HAS IMPROVED.

THOUGH, THE GLOBAL HUNT FOR A VACCINE CONTINUES.

INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST WHO WORKED ON THE EBOLA VIRUS JOINS US ONCE MORE TO DISCUSS POSSIBLE TREATMENTS.

BUT FIRST THE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES.

I HAD TOLD THIS AUDIENCE AT A RECENT PRESS BRIEFING THAT WE HAVE A NUMBER OF VAC KEEN CANDIDATES AND ONE PRO TO TYPE.

WE WANTED TO GIVE YOU THE TIME FRAME OF A VACCINE AND WHAT ITS IMPACT MIGHT BE NOW AND IN SUBSEQUENT YEARS IS THAT I TOLD YOU WE WOULD HAVE A VACCINE THAT WE WOULD BE PUTTING INTO TRIALS TO SEE IF IT IS SAFE AND IF IT INDUCES A RESPONSE THAT YOU WOULD PREDICT WOULD BE PROTECTIVE IN ABOUT THREE MONTHS.

I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE A LITTLE LESS THAN THAT.

IT WILL PROBABLY BE CLOSER TO TWO MONTHS.

THAT WOULD TAKE THREE MONTHS TO DETERMINE IF IT'S SAFE, WHICH GIVES US SIX MONTHS.

THEN YOU GRADUATE FROM A TRIAL, WHICH IS PHASE ONE OF 45 PEOPLE TO A TRIAL THAT INVOLVES HUNDREDS, IF NOT LOW THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE TO DETERMINE ETHICACY.

AT THE EARLIEST, AN ETHICACY TRIAL WOULD TAKE AN ADDITIONAL SIX TO EIGHT MONTHS.

SO ALTHOUGH THIS IS THE FASTEST WE HAVE EVER GONE FROM A SEQUENCE OF A VIRUS TO A TRIAL, IT STILL WOULD NOT BE ANY APPLICABLE TO THE EPIDEMIC UNLESS WE REALLY WAIT ABOUT A YEAR TO A YEAR AND A HALF.

NOW, THAT MEANS TWO THINGS: ONE, THE ANSWER TO CONTAINING IS PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES.

WE CAN'T RELY ON A VACCINE OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS TO A YEAR.

HOWEVER, IF THIS VIRUS, WHICH WE HAVE EVERY REASON TO BELIEVE IT IS QUITE CONCEIVABLE THAT IT WILL HAPPEN, WILL GO BEYOND JUST A SEASON, THEN COME BACK AND RECYCLE NEXT YEAR.

IF THAT'S THE CASE, WE HOPE TO HAVE A VACCINE.

I DO WANT TO TURN A LITTLE BIT NOW TO TALK OF A VACCINE.

THERE HAS BEEN SOME CONFUSIONS, LET'S SAY, FROM SOME PUBLIC OFFICIALS ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT A FLU VACCINE WILL ACTUALLY HELP WITH THE CORONAVIRUS OR NOT AND WHEN WE CAN EXPECT EVERYONE TO HAVE ACCESS TO TESTS AND WHEN THERE WILL BE A VACCINE.

THAT INFORMATION SEEMS TO BE A LITTLE BIT MUDDLED RIGHT NOW AS WELL.

SO THE HEAD OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGIES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, ONE OF THE FINEST INFECTIOUS DISEASE DOCTORS THAT EVER LIVED, IT IS 12 TO 18 MONTHS BEFORE HAVING A VACCINE.

SURE, THEY MAY HAVE ONE THAT COULD GO INTO CLINICAL TRIALS, BUT IT IS A LONG TIME BEFORE THAT VACCINE ACTUALLY BECOMES AVAILABLE.

SO I WOULDN'T COUNT ON THAT AT THIS POINT.

AND AS THE VIRUS CHANGES OVER TIME LIKE THE FLU DOES YEAR TO YEAR, ONE OF THE QUESTIONS IS WHETHER, YOU KNOW, CORONAVIRUS BECOMES KIND OF ENDEMIC LIKE THE FLU AND JUST COMES AND GOES EVERY YEAR LIKE A REGULAR DISEASE MIX OR WHETHER HOPEFULLY IT GOES AWAY.

WE ARE ALSO ENTERING SPRINGTIME, AND SPRINGTIME FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE CAN BRING ALLERGIES, WHICH CAN BRING SNEEZING AND COUGHING.

DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN THAT YOU HAVE CORONAVIRUS BUT THAT YOUR BODY IS REACTING THAT WAY.

WE ARE STILL DEALING WITH THE FLU WHICH IS STILL MORE DEADLY THAN THIS VIRUS.

IT SEEMS LIKE THERE IS SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS FOR PEOPLE TO BE AWARE OF SUDDENLY.

IS IT THAT WE SHOULD BE MORE VIGILANT OR SHOULD WE ALWAYS HAVE BEEN THIS VIGILANT?

WELL, THEY ARE GOING TO BE MORE PANICKED HERE BECAUSE SUDDENLY THOSE ALLERGY SYMPTOMS COME AND, OH, MY GOD, DO I HAVE CORONAVIRUS?

YOU SHOULD LOOK AT WHETHER WHETHER ALLERIES ARE UP AND COMING IN YOUR PARTICULAR AREA.

IN NEW YORK WITH THESE TEMPERATURES YOU MIGHT EXPECT TO SEE ALLERGIES FLAIR.

I WOULD SAY BE VERY, VERY WARY OF THOSE EARLY SYMPTOMS.

DON'T GO TO YOUR DOCTOR, BUT CALL YOUR DOCTOR AND I SAY, I HAVE THESE EARLY SYMPTOMS.

I'M A PHYSICIAN, BUT WHEN MY CHILD GETS SICK, I'M NOT DUMB ENOUGH TO PRETEND I'M A PEDIATRICIAN.

I CALL THE PEDIATRICIAN.

I WILL CALL HIM AND SAY, MY SON AS THIS FEVER, WHAT SHOULD I DO.

REALLY RELY ON HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS BECAUSE THEY'RE EXCELLENT.

COULD BE FLU, COULD BE ALLERGY, COULD BE CORONAVIRUS.

LET THEM DISCERN INSTEAD OF YOU.

FLU SHOT IS STILL IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT WILL HOPEFULLY TAKE YOU OFFLINE BECAUSE IF YOU DO GET THE FLU THERE WON'T BE ANY CONCERN AS TO WHAT IT IS.

THE PIECE OF ADVICE I GIVE TO PEOPLE IS THIS: LOOK, IF YOU THINK YOU ARE STARTING TO GET THE FLU, THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS MAY BE VERY SIMILAR TO CORONAVIRUS.

YOU DON'T KNOW.

SO I DO ADVISE, YOU KNOW, MY OWN FAMILY TO LOOK AT THE ANTIVIRALS BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO TAKE THEM WITHIN 12 TO 24 HOURS AND IT MAY OR MAY NOT WORK AGAINST CORONAVIRUS.

THEY HAVE TRIED IT IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES WITH SOME OF THESE ANTI-HIV DRUGS AS A MEANS OF TRYING TO TEACH THE VIRUS.

SO THEN THAT BRINGS ME TO ANOTHER I WOULD SAY UNIQUELY AMERICAN SITUATION THAT WE'RE DEALING WITH WHEN IT COMES TO THE NEED FOR ISOLATION OR SELF-ISOLATION, SELF-CONTAINMENT.

A LOT OF US ARE TAUGHT OR ARE CONCERNED TO, YOU POWER THROUGH.

YOU PUSH THROUGH.

YOU JUST KEEP GOING.

SO PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO GO TO WORK IF THEY'RE NOT FEELING WELL.

THEN THERE IS ALSO THE ADDED ISSUE THAT THERE IS A LOT OF AMERICANS WHO DON'T FEEL THEY HAVE THE OPTION.

THEY DON'T HAVE PAID SICK TIME.

THEY WILL BE PENALIZED IF THEY MISS WORK.

SO HOW DO YOU, IF YOU ARE AN HOURLY WAGE WORKER, HOW ON EARTH DO YOU MISS TWO WEEKS OF WORK?

YOU DON'T.

YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO.

I THINK OF THE SERVICE INDUSTRY.

YOU KNOW, IF YOU ARE WORKING IN A RESTAURANT AND YOU ARE PAID BY THE HOUR, WHAT DO YOU DO?

DO YOU KIND OF POWER THROUGH AND YOU DO TO WORK.

I WAS IN A SITUATION THE OTHER DAY WHERE THERE WAS A SERVICE PROVIDER THERE.

IT WAS JUST DRIPPING WITH -- WITH A COLD.

I MEAN, JUST ALL OVER THE PLACE.

YOU KNOW, CLEARLY LITTERING THE COLD VIRUS ALL OVER THE COUNTER TOPS AND BROOM HANDLES AND WHATNOT.

BUT SHE HAD NO CHOICE.

I MEAN, SHE CAN'T MISS ONE SINGLE DAY OF WORK.

SO I THINK ONE THING THAT PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORITIES AREN'T THINKING ABOUT IS THERE IS A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT JUST CAN'T AFFORD TO TAKE THAT DAY OFF WORK AND THEY ARE GOING TO POWER THROUGH AND THAT'S A REAL RISK.

AS CORONAVIRUS CONTINUES TO SPREAD, QUESTIONS REMAIN WHERE EXACTLY DID IT COME FROM AND COULD IT HAVE BEEN STOPPED BEFORE THE OUTBREAK?

SOME SCIENTISTS SAY YES AS NJTV'S MICHAEL HILL REPORTS.

ECONOMISTS WOULD CALL THIS A MARKET FAILURE, A FAILURE OF THE FREE MARKET.

A FAILURE 17 YEARS AGO TO PURSUE A DRUG TO STOP ANOTHER CORONAVIRUS, SARS, IN ITS TRACTS.

THAT PAVED THE WAY IN DECEMBER FOR THE NEW CORONAVIRUS, SO HE HAS RUTGERS UNIVERSITY FOUNDING DIRECTOR.

BURLY AND HIS TEAM NOW ARE HELPING THE WORLD PUT A BULLS EYE ON THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS.

AMONG THE LATEST CASUALTIES AN ELDERLY COUPLE FROM THE PRINCESS DIAMOND CRUISE SHIP IN JAPAN.

THIS IS THE EDITOR FOR THE CORONAVIRUS.

BRIAN HUDSON EXPLAINS ONCE THE CORONAVIRUS INVADES A HUMAN CELL, THE ENZYME ON THE SCREEN HELPS ITS PROTEINS TO INFECT OTHER CELLS AND OTHER PEOPLE.

A SHANGHAI COMPANY MADE A DISCOVERY OF AN INHIBITOR INSIDE THE ENZYME AND PRODUCED A 3D STRUCTURE.

THERE IS A CHEMICAL THAT'S ATTACHED THROUGH A CHEMICAL BOND TO THE PROTEIN.

THAT'S THE WHITE STICK FIGURE HERE.

AND THIS HAS STOPPED THE PROTEIN IN ITS TRACKS.

AND IF THIS WERE HAPPENING INSIDE A HUMAN CELL, THE VIRUS WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO REPLICATE, AND THE INFECTION WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO PROGRESS WITHIN THE PERSON.

DR. BURLY AND HIS TEAM ARE FEDERALLY FUNDED TO SHARE SUCH DISCOVERIES THROUGH THE 49-YEAR-OLD WORLDWIDE PROTEIN DATA BANK.

RUTGERS LEADS THE OPERATION OF THE PROTEIN DATA BANK OPEN TO MILLIONS OF SCIENTISTS, PROFESSORS AND PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES FOR RESEARCH.

THE INFECTION MACHINE IN THE CORONAVIRUS IS NEARLY IDENTICAL TO THE ONE IN SARS THAT HIS PRIVATE PRACTICE TEAM DISCOVERED IN 2003.

THEIR EVOLUTIONARY RELATIONSHIP IS SO CLOSE THAT HAD AN EFFECTIVE BLOCKER OF THE SARS MAIN BEEN DISCOVERED AND DEVELOPED IN 2003, IT WOULD STOP THE CURRENT INFECTION IN ITS TRACKS.

WHY WASN'T IT?

THE SARS VIRUS AND EPIDEMIC DIED DOWN AND THERE WAS NO APPETITE FOR INVESTING LARGE SUMS OF MONEY IN THE DISCOVERY OF A DRUG FOR A DISEASE THAT HAD ALREADY DEPARTED.

DO YOU CONSIDER THAT A MISTAKE BY --

I THINK ALL THE DECISIONS THAT WERE MADE AT THE TIME WERE RATIONAL.

BUT WITH THE BENEFIT OF 20/20 HINDSIGHT, WHICH IS WHAT HINDSIGHT IS, WE NOW KNOW THAT THE -- THAT CORONAVIRUSES WILL CONTINUE TO JUMP THE SPECIES BARRIER TO HUMAN.

WE KNOW THESE CORONAVIRUS ARE VERY HIGHLY CONSERVED THROUGHOUT EVOLUTION.

AND IT'S LIKELY THAT A DRUG EFFECTIVE AGAINST ONE CORONAVIRUS, IF -- IF THE TARGET IS CHOSEN IN SUCH A WAY THAT WE -- WE FOCUS OUR EFFORTS ON THE EVOLUTIONARY CONSERVED TARGETS, THE ONES SIMILAR FROM VIRUS TO VIRUS TO VIRUS.

RIGHT.

THAT WE COULD HAVE A DRUG OR PERHAPS A FAMILY OF DRUGS AVAILABLE TO MANAGE CORONAVIRUS INFECTIONS GOING FORWARD.

JUST HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS PROTEIN DATA BANK TO HUMAN KIND?

PROFESSOR BURLY SUMS IT UP.

MODERN BIOLOGY WOULD LOOK COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

HE'S ABOUT TO PUBLIC RESEARCH SHOWING THE PROTEIN DATA BANK FACILITATED THE DEVELOPMENT OF MORE THAN 95% OF THE FDA APPROVED ANTI-CANCER AGENTS FROM 2010 TO 2018.

REASON FOR HOPE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST THE NEW CORONAVIRUS AND PERHAPS VIRUSES TO COME.

MICHAEL HILL.

> SOME DISTURBING STATISTICS.

DESPITE CONSTITUTING LESS THAN 5% OF THE GLOBAL POPULATION, THE UNITED STATES HOLDS NEARLY 25% OF THE WORLD'S PRISON POPULATION ACCORDING TO THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION.

WITH OVER TWO MILLION IS THIS COUNTRY PREPARING THEM FOR LIFE BEYOND THE BLOCK?

AWARD WINNING FILM MAKER SIGNS A LIGHT ON THE INCARCERATED MEN AND WOMEN'S STRUGGLE TO EARN A PRISON DEGREE.

HERE'S A LOOK.

PRISON IS HERE TO PUNISH US.

IT IS NOT ABOUT REHABILITATING.

IT JUST ISN'T.

THIS IS A FULL-TIME TOTAL COMMITMENT.

WHEN THAT DOOR CLOSES, YOU ARE IN BAR COLLEGE.

IT IS HARD.

IT'S DIFFICULT.

BUT IT IS REWARDING.

I GOT TO PROVE THAT I'M WORTHY OF THIS.

I WANT TO TRY TO PAY BACK TO SOCIETY.

IT CHANGES YOUR WHOLE OUTLOOK.

I REALIZED I LEARNED SOMETHING.

THAT IS WHERE TRANSFORMATION HAPPENS.

THAT IS WHAT STOPS PEOPLE FROM COMING BACK TO PRISON.

JOINING US NOW IS THE PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR OF 'COLLEGE BEHIND BARS.'

AN ALUMNI OF THE INITIATIVE.

WELCOME BOTH OF YOU.

IT IS AN HONOR TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

THANK YOU.

LET ME START WITH YOU.

THIS FOUR-HOUR DOUMENTARY SERIES TOOK FOUR HOURS OF SHOOTING BUT IS A SEVEN-YEAR PROJECT.

RIGHT.

WHAT WAS THE ORIGINS OF THE PROJECT?

HOW DID IT COME TO BE?

FOR MANY, MANY YEARS I HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF WORKING WITH KEN BURNS.

WHEN WE WERE WORKING ON THE VIETNAM WAR, SARA AND I WERE ASKED TO GIVE A LECTURE ABOUT THE PROHIBITION SERIES WE HAD MADE.

WE WENT TO THE FACILITY AND BROUGHT OUR FILM REEL AND HAD A CONVERSATION WITH STUDENTS THERE.

AND DURING THAT CLASS EXPERIENCE INSIDE THE PRISON, WE WERE JUST TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY BY THE LEVEL OF RIGOR, THE SERIOUSNESS, THE FOCUS, THE MATURITY AND THE KIND OF ENGAGEMENT WITH THE MATERIAL THAT THE STUDENTS HAD.

AS WE LEFT THE CLASSROOM THAT NIGHT, WE SAID TO EACH OTHER, WOW, THIS IS AMAZING.

THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW THAT THIS IS HAPPENING.

SOMEONE SHOULD MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT IT.

AND THEN WE THOUGHT, WE'RE KIND OF BUSY RIGHT NOW WITH THIS VIETNAM SERIES.

I'M NOT SURE WE HAVE TIME.

BUT I GOT A CHANCE TO TEACH THE PROGRAM MYSELF AND OVER THE COURSE OF THE NEXT YEAR OR SO, SARA AND I DECIDED WE HAD TO MAKE THIS FILM.

WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT THIS PROJECT?

WELL, I DON'T LIKE TO HEAR MY VOICE ON THE RECORDING, AND I DON'T LIKE TO SEE MYSELF ON FILM.

BUT I FELT THAT THIS PROJECT WAS IMPORTANT BECAUSE I WITNESSED GUYS ON THE INSIDE WHO WERE IN THE RECREATION AREAS DOING NOTHING INTO EVERYTHING NEGATIVE.

BUT WHEN THEY GOT INTO THE BAR PRISON INITIATIVE, THEY BECAME THE MOST INTELLECTUAL, PROFOUND, CONSIDERATE MEN I KNEW.

I FELT THE WORLD NEEDED TO SEE THIS.

SO LYNN, YOU HAVE SEEN THIS IN THE FILM THAT A PROGRAM LIKE THIS OR COLLEGE EDUCATION WITHIN PRISON NS IN GENERAL HAS ITS CRITICS.

AMONG THE QUESTIONS THAT THE CRITICS RAISE AND YOU SHOW THEM, FIRST OF ALL, YOU KNOW, WHY DO THESE MEN AND WOMEN WHO COMMITTED VIOLENT CRIMES GET THIS INCREDIBLE VIOLENT WHEN I OR MY CHILDREN WHO COMMITTED NO CRIME DO NOT GET THIS BENEFIT?

OR WHAT ABOUT THE VICTIMS OF THESE MEN AND WOMEN?

WHEN THE FAMILIES OF THE VICTIMS SEE THIS, IS THAT JUSTICE FOR THEM, TO SEE THE BENEFIT THAT THESE MEN AND WOMEN ARE GETTING?

WHAT ARE THE ANSWERS?

ONE OF THE THINGS WE WANT TO DO IS REFRAIN THE QUESTION.

95% OF PEOPLE WHO ARE INCARCERATED WILL BE COMING HOME.

IF PEOPLE ARE IN THE YARD BASICALLY DOING NOTHING, THEY WILL BE COMING HOME MORE OR LESS THE WAY THEY WENT INTO PRISON OR MAYBE IN A WORSE PLACE.

EDUCATION IS ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAYS WE HAVE.

SO IT'S REALLY A QUESTION TO F HUMAN DIGNITY AND PUBLIC SAFETY.

WE REALLY WANT THE FILM TO HELP EXPLAIN THAT.

DEFINITELY.

THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FOUND THAT EVERY DOLLAR INVESTED IN PRISON EDUCATION SAVES SOCIETY $5 IN THE LONG-TERM.

SO IT'S A 1:5 RATIO THERE.

WE BELIEVE THAT -- BPI BELIEVES THAT ANYONE WHO WANTS AN EDUCATION SHOULD HAVE ACCESS SO AN EDUCATION.

PERSONALLY I DEVOTED MUCH PRAYER AND FOCUS TO THE ACT THAT I COMMITTED.

I TOOK ACCOUNTABILITY FOR IT AND, YOU KNOW, I WAS LOOKING FOR WAYS TO ENGAGE MYSELF CONSTRUCTIVELY IN ORDER TO SET FORTH A TRANSFORMATION IN MYSELF.

AND PRISON WASN'T PROVIDING THAT FOR ME.

YOU KNOW?

IT WAS A STRUGGLE.

I HAD TO REALLY SEARCH.

BUT WHEN BPI CAME ON THE INSIDE OF PRISON AND PROVIDED US WITH THESE HUMANITIES SUCH LIKE, YOU KNOW, WALTER MOSLEY, NICHE, I WAS ABLE TO ENGAGE THIS MATERIAL AND SEE MYSELF IN THIS MATERIAL AND BE ABLE TO SAY, OKAY, THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE.

THIS IS WHO I WANT TO BE.

BUT WHILE YOU WERE DOING THIS RIGOROUS WORK, WAS IT ALWAYS IN THE BACK OF YOUR MIND THAT THIS COULD DISAPPEAR TOMORROW BECAUSE YOU DEPENDED ON THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS AND DECISIONS MADE BY BUREAUCRATS MADE FAR AWAY.

THAT WASN'T IN THE BACK OF MY MIND.

MY MIND WAS TOTALLY FOCUSSED ON MY CLASSES, MY PAPERS AND MY PROFESSORS BECAUSE THAT'S HOW RIGOROUS THE WORK WAS.

BUT, YOU KNOW, MAX KENNER AND SOME OF THE ADMINISTRATORS OF THE BPI DEFINITELY EXPLAINED TO US, YOU KNOW, THE DYNAMICS INVOLVED IN FUNDING THIS PROGRAM AND WE FELT PRIVILEGED TO BE PART OF IT.

WE TRY NOT TO GET CAUGHT UP IN, OH, WILL WE HAVE THIS TOMORROW OR NOT?

WE JUST WANTED TO MAKE THE MOST OF IT.

YOU KNOW, IN THE FILM YOU HEAR A NUMBER OF THE INCARCERATE ED MEN AND WOMEN SAY THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THEY WERE GETTING INTO.

SOME OF THEM WERE INTRODUCED INTO COFFEE AFTER THEY GOT INTO IT BECAUSE THAT'S THE ONLY WAY THEY COULD SURVIVE THIS RIGOROUS REGIME.

BUT YOU NEVER SEE ANYONE VOLUNTARILY LEAVE THE PROJECT.

IS IT JUST THAT WE DIDN'T SEE IT?

DO SOME OF THE STUDENTS GET OVERWHELMED AND LEAVE?

I THINK WE HAVE AN OVER ALL ATTRITION RATE OF 2%, IF I MAY.

I WILL SAY ALSO, DURING THE TIME THAT I WAS IN THE PROGRAM, WE HADN'T HAD ANYONE WHO LEFT THE PROGRAM.

AND I THINK IT'S BECAUSE -- NOT BECAUSE PEOPLE DIDN'T FIND IT DIFFICULT, BUT THEY SAW THAT THEY WERE SET UP TO SUCCEED.

WE PROVIDED THEM WITH INFORMAL STUDY GROUPS.

I MADE MYSELF AVAILABLE.

MANY OF MY OTHER FRIENDS AND PEOPLE ON THE INSIDE MADE OURSELVES AVAILABLE TO STUDENTS TO EXPLAIN TO THEM WHAT THIS TYPE OF EDUCATION ENTAILED, HOW YOU WOULD HAVE TO STUDY TO BE SUCCESSFUL.

AND WE ALSO HAD SUPPORT FROM BPI -- EXCUSE ME, BAR CAMPUS WHERE STUDENTS WERE WILLING TO COME IN AND TUTOR US ON COMPLEX ISSUES.

ONE OF THE THINGS WE WERE INTERESTED TO CAPTURE IN THE FILM IS THE SENSE OF COMMUNITY AMONG THE STUDENTS AND HOW THEY SUPPORT EACH OTHER AND THE CULTURE THAT IS AROUND THE COLLEGE INSIDE THE PRISON AND BLEEDS OUT INTO THE REST OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE INCARCERATED.

THAT'S A QUESTION BECAUSE ONE OF THE STUDENTS FEATURED SAYS, YOU KNOW, OUTSIDE OF THE CLASS WE'RE DIVIDED BY RACE, BY GANG.

HERE WE ARE NOT.

A COMEDY DEVELOPS AS YOU SEE IN THE FILM.

DOES THAT GO OUT TO THE GENERAL POPULATION?

MOST DEFINITELY.

PEOPLE IN THE POPULATION COME TO BPI STUDENTS FOR BOOKS, FOR ADVICE ON HOW TO WRITE LETTERS.

WE TAKE PART IN ORGANIZATIONAL ACTIVITIES, RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES.

YOU KNOW, THERE IS A TRICKLE EFFECT THAT HAPPENS IN A POPULATION BECAUSE PEOPLE WANT THIS TYPE OF CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT WITH THEIR OWN LIVES.

AND ONCE THERE IS AN OASIS WHERE THIS CAN OCCUR, PEOPLE NATURALLY GRAVITATE TOWARDS US.

YOU KNOW, LYNN RODNEY WHO IS A TRUE SCHOLAR, ONE OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE PEOPLE I HAVE EVER SEEN, SAYS IN THE FILM THAT HE IS A STUDENT 24/7.

HE IS AN INCARCERATED PERSON 24/7 ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

HOW DID YOU FIND THESE STUDENTS JUGGLING THESE TWO IDENTITIES THROUGHOUT THE FOUR YEARS?

THAT'S A REALLY IMPORTANT THEME IN THE FILM.

JUST IN OUR EXPERIENCE OF GETTING TO KNOW PEOPLE IT IS A CONSTANT DYNAMIC.

ONE OF THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS THAT CAME ACROSS IN MANY PEOPLE'S EXPERIENCE IS IN A CLASSROOM THERE IS A SENSE OF FREEDOM THAT YOU REALLY ARE SO FOCUSSED ON WHAT YOU ARE STUDYING AND LEARNING AND ENGAGEMENT WITH THE FACULTY AND YOUR PEERS THAT I THINK WHERE YOU ARE KIND OF SENDS A PURPOSE AS A WAY TO ESCAPE WHERE YOU ARE FOR A TIME.

AND ONE OF THE ADMINISTRATORS OF THE BPI WHEN I WAS A PART OF THE PROGRAM ENCOURAGED US TO VIEW OURSELVES AS STUDENTS IN AN INSTITUTION, NOT PRISONERS IN A PRISON.

SO THAT WAS A CHALLENGE THAT WE TOOK SERIOUSLY AND REALLY WORKED TO LIVE WITH EACH OTHER INSIDE THE CLASSROOM.

SO IT WAS A DEFINITE PROCESS THAT I NEEDED TO TAKE IN ORDER TO RE-ENTER INTO SOCIETY BECAUSE OVERALL, YOU DON'T HAVE THAT CHANCE TO VIEW YOURSELF AS NOTHING BUT A PRISONER WHILE YOU'RE IN THERE.

BUT VIEWING MYSELF AS A STUDENT MADE ME REALIZE I COULD TAKE ON SOME OF THE CHALLENGES.

A NUMBER OF THE STUDENTS SAY -- AND YOU WERE ONE OF THEM, THE PEOPLE WHO SAY SOMETHING TO THE EFFECT THAT YOU ALSO DURING YOUR YEARS IN PRISONS LEARN DIFFERENT KINDS OF LESSONS, NEGATIVE LESSONS, HOW TO BE VIOLENT IF YOU HAVE TO, HOW TO POSE -- YOU KNOW, GIVE A HARD POSE OUT OF NECESSITY.

HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO UNLEARN THOSE LESSONS AFTER?

NOT DIFFICULT AT ALL BECAUSE THE LIBERAL ARTS, THE HUMANITIES ENGAGED THOSE SAME THEMES.

I WAS ABLE TO READ AND SEE HOW PEOPLE WROTE ABOUT THESE ISSUES AND CONTINUOUSLY GREW, PARTICULARLY IN GERMAN.

YOU KNOW, GERMAN HAS THIS IDEA OF ENLIGHTENMENT THAT NO ONE IS NEVER STUCK IN THE IDEAL OR A PERSONALITY THAT THEY WERE BORN WITH.

WE HAVE INFINITE POSITION TO GROW AND ACHIEVE NEW IDENTITIES AND NO CELLS.

I HAVE TO ASK THIS.

FOR AMERICANS TO FINALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT SEEMS TO BE CRYSTAL CLEAR, THAT EDUCATION IS THE BEST MEANS TO REHABILITATE MEN AND WOMEN BEHIND JAILS, DO THEY FIRST HAVE TO UNDERSTAND, OR THEY COME TO ACCEPT THAT THESE MEN AND WOMEN ARE HUMAN BEINGS, ARE REDEEMABLE HUMAN BEINGS WITH -- WITH AN OCEANIC LEVEL OF POTENTIAL?

THAT'S THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION.

THAT'S THE FUNDAMENTAL THING WE HAVE TO GRASP.

I THINK WE FEEL REALLY STRONGLY THAT OUR EXPERIENCE IS GETTING TO KNOW THESE AMAZING STUDENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES AS PEOPLE, LIKE FRIENDS AND FAMILIES OF OUR OWN.

THAT'S EXTRAORDINARILY IMPORTANT.

FOR A LOT OF AMERICANS WHO HAVEN'T BEEN IMPACTED BY THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE, HAVEN'T BEEN TO PRISONSPRISONS, DON'T KNOW THAT HAVE BEEN INCARCERATED, THERE IS THIS LABELING OF PEOPLE AS OPPOSED TO SEEING THEM AS THREE DIMENSIONAL HUMAN BEINGS.

I JUST WANT TO SAY, THAT'S NOT JUST LIMITED TO PRISON.

EXACTLY.

WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE IT IN ALL OF THE PEOPLE IN AMERICA REGARDLESS OF THEIR RACIAL STATUS, YOUR CITIZENSHIP STATUS, WHAT HAVE YOU, AND WE WILL HAVE A BETTER SOCIETY.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY.

THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL DOCUMENTARIES I HAVE EVER SEEN AND I REALLY, REALLY HOPE A LOT OF PEOPLE GET TO SEE IT BECAUSE IT'S GOING TO CHANGE THINGS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISH.

THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

ROZALINE P. WALTER.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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