“This episode is my favorite of the season because I didn’t expect to go into a prison and meet so many men that are just like me, but somehow found themselves in a bad situation and now are paying the consequences for that choice,” says Bell.
San Quentin houses California’s only death row inmates, yet it’s actually the prison that California inmates want to get transferred to because it has the highest number of rehab programs. San Quentin is a level 2 prison, known for some of the top rehab programs in the country.
“These men have spent more time dealing with their feelings and recognizing their mistakes than most men I know on the outside,” says Bell. “However, even though 20 years have passed in some instances, these men are still serving sentences such as ‘7 years to life’ – some of them for non-violent offenses.”
Bell hopes that the episode will present a side of prison rarely seen and often overlooked in most depictions of what it’s like behind bars. United Shades of America airs Sunday at 10 pm ET/PT on CNN. Follow W. Kamau Bell on Twitter at @WKamauBell.