Transcript: Myths and Facts About Prison | Nov 16, 2016

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, blue shirt, and lilac tie.

A caption on screen reads "Myths and facts about prison. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says FOR MOST PEOPLE, WHAT THEY KNOW
ABOUT PRISON LIFE COMES FROM
MOVIES AND TELEVISION.
THE REALITY, NOT SURPRISINGLY,
IS SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT.
LEE CHAPELLE SPENT MORE THAN 20
YEARS AT VARIOUS PENITENTIARIES
ACROSS ONTARIO AND QUÉBEC.
AND HE'S TRANSFORMED THAT
FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE INTO A
BUSINESS THAT HELPS PEOPLE AS
THEY PREPARE TO SERVE OUT JAIL SENTENCES.
AND LEE CHAPELLE JOINS US NOW
FOR WHAT LIFE BEHIND BARS IS
REALLY LIKE.

Lee is in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing a black suit, purple shirt, and checked purple tie.

Steve says NICE TO SEE YOU HERE.

Lee says NICE TO SEE YOU, STEVE.

Steve says LET'S JUST START RIGHT THERE.
WHAT WE WATCH ON TELEVISION,
WHAT WE SEE ON THE MOVIES, HOW
ACCURATE IS THAT?

The caption changes to "Lee Chapelle. Canadian Prison Consulting."
A caption appears on screen. It reads "A life behind bars."

Lee says IT'S A FAR CRY.
THE--SPECIFICALLY THE REALITY
SHOW GENRES IN RECENT YEARS THAT
TRY TO CAPTURE JAILS IS--DOESN'T
COME CLOSE.

Steve says DID YOU WATCH OZ?

Lee says I DID, AND...

Steve says OZ WAS HORRIFYING.

Lee says YUP.

Steve says IS THAT WHAT PRISON LIFE IS LIKE?

Lee says WELL, THERE ARE CERTAIN
PENITENTIARIES I CAN POINT TO.
BEAVER CREEK, A MEDIUM, THAT'S
BUILT VERY SIMILARLY TO
OZ.
COLLINS BAY HAS A RETROFIT WHERE
THERE'S GLASS--SO THE GLASS--SO
EVERY--YOU CAN SEE IN THE CELLS
IN RANGES.
BUT REALLY, ULTIMATELY, THERE'S
CERTAINLY NOT AS MUCH FREE TIME
AFFORDED FOR THE THINGS TO OCCUR
IN
OZ
THAT DO THAT--IN REALITY.
SO, IT'S--IT WAS A CREATIVE
EFFORT BASED ON SOMEWHAT OF A
REALISTIC SETTING, I SUPPOSE.
BUT I THINK THE THINGS THAT
OCCUR ARE A LITTLE FAR-FETCHED.

Steve says LIKE WHEN THEY CRUCIFIED A GUY
IN THE GYMNASIUM.

Lee says YEAH, THAT SORT OF THING.

Steve says YOU NEVER SAW THAT?

Lee says WELL, THINGS DO OCCUR.
AND, YOU KNOW, TYPICALLY
VIOLENCE IN PRISON--AND THIS IS
SOMETHING THAT SURPRISES MOST
PEOPLE--TYPICALLY COMES TO STEM
FROM DOMESTIC ISSUES.
FOR MEN--FOR EXAMPLE, WE HAVE
40, 50, 60 MEN WHO LIVE AND
SHARE THE SAME LIVING AREA.
AND OFTEN WHEN THESE THINGS
HAPPEN, IT FLARES UP OUT OF
NOWHERE, AND IT'S OVER A FLOOR
BEING MESSED UP OR USING
SOMEBODY'S SILVERWARE,
TOOTHBRUSH, THAT SORT OF THING.
AND IT'S JUST A QUICK POP-UP.
AND...

Steve says AND OVER WITH?

Lee says AND OVER WITH, YEAH.

Steve says FORGIVE MY ASKING HERE, YOU'VE
GOT A BIT OF SCAR HERE.

Lee says I DO.

Steve says HOW DID YOU GET THAT?
THAT WAS FROM A DOG WHEN I WAS YOUNG.

Steve says OK, THAT WAS NOT
PRISON-RELATED.

Lee says I WAS BEING AN IDIOT AND BARKING
AT THIS DOG THAT WAS ON A CHAIN,
AND IT HAD A LONGER LEASH THAN I
THOUGHT IT DID.

Steve says YOU KNOW WHAT, YOU COULD
HAVE TOLD A GREAT STORY THERE
ABOUT HOW SOME GUY CAME AT YOU
WITH A KNIFE.

Lee chuckles and says I COULD HAVE, BUT I HAVE TO
BE HONEST.

Steve says OK.
ALL RIGHT, GOOD.
WHEN--HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU
FIRST SAW THE INSIDE OF A JAIL?

Lee says I WAS 16.

Steve says 16.

Lee says YEAH.

Steve says WHAT WAS IMPRESSION OF
THAT FIRST ENCOUNTER?

The caption changes to "Lee Chapelle, @CPCIncorporated."

Lee says I WAS TERRIFIED; I WAS
TERRIFIED.
I WAS 16; I WAS CHARGED WITH
PROPERTY OFFENCES.
I WAS A MIDDLE-CLASS KID IN
SCARBOROUGH.
AND THE JUDGE HAD MADE A
CONDITION FOR EITHER ONE OF MY
PARENTS TO SIGN ME OUT WITHOUT
ANY MONETARY, YOU KNOW, BUT JUST
TO SIGN ME OUT.
AND IT WAS AT THAT POINT THAT
THEY OPTED TO GO WITH THE
TOUGH-LOVE APPROACH AND SAY,
"WELL, YOU KNOW, MAYBE THIS WILL
TEACH YOU A LESSON."
BUT I WAS TERRIFIED.
I RECALL VIVIDLY HOW BIG
EVERYBODY WAS, HOW SCARY IT WAS,
AND HOW I JUST SAT THERE
TERRIFIED.

Steve says YOU WERE A 16-YEAR-OLD
KID SENT TO A PRISON WITH ADULTS?

Lee says I WAS.
THIS WAS PRIOR TO THE YOUNG
OFFENDER ACT.
THE YOUNG OFFENDER ACT CAME IN
IN '84, SO THIS WAS IN THE FALL
OF '83.

Steve says WHERE DID YOU GET THE NOTION
THAT BECAUSE OF YOUR--YOU'LL
FORGIVE ME--RATHER EXTENSIVE
EXPERIENCE BEHIND BARS IN 15 TO
20 DIFFERENT INSTITUTIONS ACROSS
ONTARIO AND QUÉBEC...

Lee says YEAH.

Steve says THAT THERE WAS A BUSINESS
OPPORTUNITY THERE FOR YOU TO
HELP OTHER PEOPLE PREPARE FOR
WHAT THEY WERE ABOUT TO
EXPERIENCE?

Lee says RIGHT.
SO, THIS TRANSPIRED OVER A LONG
PERIOD OF TIME.
AND BY THE TIME 2001 CAME ABOUT,
I HAD HIT A ROCK-BOTTOM POINT IN
MY LIFE.
AND I WAS BATTLING MENTAL HEALTH
ISSUES WHILE INCARCERATED.
I HAD LOST MY FAMILY AS A RESULT
OF MY CONDUCT AND BEHAVIOUR AND...

Steve says FAMILY MEANING?

Lee says MY WIFE, MY KIDS.
AND I WAS REALLY BATTLING.
AND IT STARTED ME ON A LONG PATH
OF INTROSPECTION AND A SPIRITUAL
QUEST AND UNIVERSITY COURSES.
AND I BEGAN TAKING PSYCHOLOGY
AND ADDICTIONS THROUGH MCMASTER.
AND I GREW INTO A ROLE OF PRISON
ADVOCACY WITHIN THE FEDERAL
PENITENTIARY.
THERE'S AN INMATE COMMITTEE
WITHIN ALL FEDERAL PRISONS
THAT'S AN ELECTED BODY THAT
ESSENTIALLY IS VIS-À-VIS A UNION
REP FOR MEDIATION AND DEALING
WITH ADMINISTRATION.
I CAME TO REALIZE THAT I HAD
A BIT OF A SKILL SET THERE.
AND THEN WHEN I--WHEN WITNESSING
THE CHANGES OF THE DECADE OF THE
TOUGH ON CRIME AND THE IMPACT
THAT HAD ON OUR JAILS AND
PRISONS WHICH WAS REALLY
CONSIDERABLE, IT CAME TO A POINT
WHERE I SPOKE TO SO MANY PEOPLE
WHO'D COME IN WHO WERE
FIRST-TIME OFFENDERS COMING FROM
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUNDS FOR
WHATEVER REASONS.
AND WHEN THEY CAME INTO THE
INMATE COMMITTEE OFFICE AND THEY
SPOKE TO ME ABOUT THEIR
CIRCUMSTANCES, WHAT THEIR LAWYER
HAD SHARED WITH THEM, MORE OFTEN
THAN NOT, IT WASN'T ACCURATE.
AND SO, WHEN I WOULD GIVE THEM
THE REALITY OF THEIR
SITUATION--WHAT THEY HAD TO DO
FOR CASE MANAGEMENT AND THE
THINGS THEY HAD TO DO TO DO
THEIR SENTENCE--YOU KNOW, I MUST
HAVE HEARD HUNDREDS OF TIMES
OVER, "I WISH I HAD ACCESS TO
THIS INFORMATION BEFORE I MADE
THE DECISIONS THAT I DID."

Steve says HOW MANY CLIENTS DO YOU SUSPECT
YOU'VE ADVISED OVER THE YEARS?

Lee says WELL, WHEN I--PRIOR TO RELEASE,
I ASSISTED IN MORE THAN 500
PAROLE GRANTS.

Steve says HMM.

Lee says RUNNING MOCK PAROLE HEARINGS AND
PREPPING PEOPLE FOR THAT.

Steve says AND WHAT ARE THE OFFENCES
THAT YOUR CLIENTS ARE TYPICALLY
FOUND GUILTY OF?

Lee says WELL, IT'S WIDE-RANGING.
DUI CAUSING DEATH, THEFT, FRAUD.
THERE'S SEXUAL OFFENCES.
IT'S A WIDE VARIETY.

Steve says ANY WHITE-COLLAR?

Lee says OH YEAH, THERE'S COURTNEY IN THE
DOCUMENTARY.
IT WAS A WHITE-COLLAR CAREER.

Steve says COURTNEY IN THE DOCUMENTARY,
SHE'S...

Lee says THAT WAS THEFT FROM AN EMPLOYER.

Steve says DEFRAUDED ALMOST A MILLION DOLLARS.

Lee says IT WAS--YEAH.
900 AND SOMETHING THOUSAND
DOLLARS OF WHICH SHE PAID HALF
OF IT BACK WHILE SHE WAS ON
BAIL.
BUT YES, SHE DID DO--SHE DID DO
SO.

Steve says WHAT--WHAT TYPICALLY ARE THE
THINGS THAT YOUR CLIENTS TELL
YOU THEY WORRY ABOUT BEFORE
GOING IN?

Lee says WELL, THERE'S A LOT OF
ISSUES.
I MEAN, IT'S A TOPICAL SUBJECT.
WE JUST DID A DISCUSSION ABOUT
SEGREGATION AND THE UGLY THINGS
THAT CAN OCCUR IN OUR SYSTEM.
AND, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE WHO ARE IN
THAT POSITION ARE CERTAINLY
COGNIZANT OF THAT AND ARE
AWARE AND PAYING ATTENTION TO
THESE NEWS STORIES.
SHE WAS TERRIFIED.
AND SHE--YOU KNOW, SHE WAS OUT
OF HER ELEMENT.
THIS IS NOT SOMETHING SHE--SHE
DIDN'T COME FROM A BACKGROUND.
SHE HAD NO PREDISPOSITION TO THE
JUSTICE SYSTEM OR CORRECTIONS.
SO, FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN.
AND FEAR OF WHAT IS PORTRAYED
THROUGH MOVIES AND SHOWS,
AS YOU SAY, PLAY A ROLE.

Steve says HOW--I'M GONNA ASK YOU AN
IMPOSSIBLE QUESTION HERE...

LEE chuckles and says OK.

Steve says WHICH IS ESSENTIALLY TO--TO
NARROW DOWN A KEY PIECE OF
ADVICE THAT YOU GIVE YOUR
CLIENTS BEFORE GOING IN IN ORDER
TO HELP THEM WITH THE TRANSITION
OF LIFE BEHIND BARS.
WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Lee says I WILL BE AS BRIEF AS I CAN.
I TAKE A VERY STRONG APPROACH
THAT ENTAILS ACCOUNTABILITY,
OWNERSHIP, INSIGHT, AND REMORSE.
AND I CALL THOSE THE
CORNERSTONES OF THE WORK I DO.
THEY'RE PREFACED WITH
ACCEPTANCE AND FORGIVENESS.
SO, ULTIMATELY WHAT I DO IS I
REALLY STRONGLY PROMOTE KEEPING
THE FOCUS ON WHAT BROUGHT THEM
TO WHERE THEY ARE IN THEIR LIFE.
PART OF THIS, AS WE DISCUSSED IN
THE SHOW, IS TO PRO--TO WORK
TOWARDS NOT ALLOWING THEM TO
FEEL VICTIMIZED BY THE SYSTEM
AND THE CONDITIONS THAT ARE IN
OUR CORRECTIONS SYSTEM RIGHT NOW.
SO, THIS IS A REAL BATTLE FOR ME
IN LIGHT OF THE CONDITIONS INSIDE.
BUT--AND THE OTHER THING THAT I
DO THAT'S VERY BASIC IS THERE'S
NO COOKIE-CUTTER APPROACH THAT
CAN BE TAKEN.
I COULDN'T JUST PUT OUT A BOOK
AND SAY, "THIS IS HOW YOU DO
PRISON."
EVERY JAIL, EVERY REGION, EVERY
REGION WITHIN A JAIL IS
DIFFERENT.
AND IT'S BUILT DIFFERENTLY DUE
TO THE MAKEUP OF THE
DEMOGRAPHICS OF WHOEVER'S THERE.

The caption changes to "Watch 'How to prepare for prison' at TVO.otg/PrisonPrep."

Lee continues SO, ONE OF THE STRONGEST THINGS
I CAN DO IS SAY, "WATCH, LISTEN,
LEARN."
DON'T STAND OUT AS A NEW PERSON.
DON'T LOOK LIKE YOU'RE--SO I
REALLY DO A VISUAL TECHNIQUE
WHERE I WALK THEM THROUGH EVERY
ASPECT OF WHAT IT ENTAILS FROM
THE TIME OF SENTENCING, BEING
BROUGHT DOWN, FINGERPRINTED,
BROUGHT TO THE DETENTION CENTRE.
AND ENCOURAGE THEM VERY STRONGLY
TO WATCH, LISTEN, AND LEARN.
IF THEY WANNA KNOW THE ETIQUETTE
OF WHAT'S GOING ON, ON THE
RANGE, HOW TO SHOWER, HOW TO USE
A PHONE, ALL THOSE THINGS.
WITHIN A MATTER OF A FEW HOURS,
IF YOU JUST PAY ATTENTION, THOSE
ANSWERS WILL COME.

Steve says HOW MUCH DO YOU CHARGE?

[LEE LAUGHING]

Lee says I--WELL, IT VARIES.
I DO A LOT OF PRO BONO WORK FOR
SURE.
I HAVE A VERY DIFFICULT TIME
WHEN PEOPLE CAN'T AFFORD
SERVICES TO NOT HELP, SO I
MINIMALLY GIVE A FEW HOURS.
THE RATE RIGHT NOW IS 250 dollars AN
HOUR FOR PRIVATE COUNSELLING.

Steve says AND THE FEEDBACK FROM
YOUR CLIENTS IS WHAT?

Lee says PRETTY GOOD.
IT'S--THERE'S A LOT OF GRATITUDE.
AND IT'S AMAZING THE BONDS THAT
ARE FORMED AND THE INTIMATE--I
MEAN, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A VERY
INTIMATE SUBJECT WHERE THERE'S
EMBARRASSMENT; THERE'S SHAME...
THERE'S FAMILIES THAT HAVE
EITHER BROKEN APART OR BOUND
TOGETHER TO GO THROUGH THIS
PROCESS.
AND I BECOME VERY INVOLVED WITH
THE FAMILY.

Steve says AND THE ADVICE THAT YOU GIVE
IS--I MEAN, IF SOMEBODY'S, LET'S
SAY, GOING AWAY FOR FIVE OR TEN
YEARS...
THE ADVICE YOU GIVE TO THEM
WILL REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN
HOW THEY GET THROUGH THAT FIVE
OR TEN YEARS?

Lee says I BELIEVE SO.
I THINK WE CAN LOOK AT SOMETHING
LIKE THAT, A FIVE- OR TEN-YEAR
PERIOD, AS A TREMENDOUS
ADVERSITY.
AND--BUT AGAIN, SOMETHING THAT
YOU WILL MAKE IT THROUGH.
AND THERE ARE WAYS TO DO THIS
WHERE YOU CAN ACTUALLY BETTER
YOURSELF.
AND YOU CANNOT--YOU CAN USE IT
AS A SPRINGBOARD TO INCREDIBLE
THINGS, I BELIEVE.
I THINK ADVERSITY, OFTEN IT
REPRESENTS A REAL OPPORTUNITY
TO--FOR GROWTH, INSIGHT, AND TO
DO INCREDIBLE THINGS WITH YOUR
LIFE.

Steve says THAT HAS CLEARLY BEEN THE CASE FOR YOU.

Lee says THANK YOU.
YEAH.

Steve says LEE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR
JOINING US.

Lee says THANK YOU, STEVE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Colin Ellis, @ColinEllis81."

Steve says AND JUST A REMINDER:
LEE CHAPELLE IS ONE OF THE
PEOPLE FEATURED IN TVO'S
DOCUMENTARY:
HOW TO PREPARE FOR
PRISON.
AND IF YOU'D LIKE TO HAVE A LOOK
AT THAT, YOU CAN VIEW THE
DOCUMENTARY IN ITS ENTIRELY
ONLINE ON OUR WEBSITE:
TVO.ORG/PRISONPREP

Watch: Myths and Facts About Prison