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Life In Prison: Terry Campbell, 44 Years And Counting

Video unavailable. Read transcript below.

Video published December 18, 2009 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: KPBS reporter Joanne Faryon interviews 65-year-old inmate Terry Campbell. His profile is part of an ongoing look at the aging prison population.

— Terry Campbell is serving a life sentence for first degree murder at R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility. Campbell gave KPBS few details about the nature of his crime other then he shot and killed a person during an armed robbery of a gas station. Campbell has been in prison for 44 years. He is among a growing number of aging inmates.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates aging inmates cost the prison system two to three times more than young inmates because they have age-related health problems.

Campbell fell more than 30 feet while working in a prison construction crew several years ago. He has had seven surgeries as a result and is also receiving treatment in prison for his asthma.

Over the next several weeks, KPBS will interview elderly inmates serving time in three state prisons. We will bring you their stories in a Project Envision documentary, "Life in Prison," airing Jan. 25 at 9 p. m. on KPBS Television.

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Avatar for user 'Raychael'

Raychael | January 4, 2010 at 1:25 a.m. ― 7 years, 2 months ago

You may not know this: Terry has used his time in pprison constructively. He has taken advantage of many educational programs offered thru the guise of rehabilitation programs..and has done what many would consider impossible, Terry Campbell is a published writer!
you heard him say the parole board has once again denied him parole..and sanctioned him against applying for 5 years. He has fulfilled every request made by the Board. Has done nothing against any rule or regulation. Has expressed his contrition for his crime. Has done nothing of a violent nature in over 3 decades or longer..and still the Board said no.
so, now, instead of coming back into the community,with all of his education, with his own income,not a burden to anyone, he will be more of a burden to taxpayers..increasing the cost of the prison system.
We are not using our system very effectively.I am glad to see some interest
shown to inmates without a negative slant.

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Avatar for user 'palmtreesam'

palmtreesam | January 5, 2010 at 12:25 a.m. ― 7 years, 2 months ago

Prison is a very primitive way to deal with a very old problem. Of course we must protect ourselves from any and all threats, at the same time, it is not a problem for me to understand the value of abiding the laws of our society. I also believe that for those who struggle with that understanding, those members of our society that for them crime becomes a good idea, I believe that their perception is a form of insanity and at the very least, their decision to commit crime is a symptom of a much deeper issue. Often the solution to this insanity can be much less taxing on society than the cost of prison.

The sooner we can arrive at a sustainable perspective with this issue the better.

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Avatar for user 'Flavioso'

Flavioso | June 17, 2010 at 9:26 a.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

I think Terry Campbell should never get out, ofcourse he won't. After commiting a first degree murder ,killing an innocent person that's just not forgiveable and even though he has used his time constructively in prison and maybe now he's a changed man, I agree with him not coming out prison because he really should of got death since the beginning.

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Avatar for user 'johnetan'

johnetan | June 17, 2010 at 9:34 a.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

terry you killed a man in the first degree, you took someones's life. you should be happy you still even have your life. the person you killed will never be coming back and you complaining about getting out of prison! terry serve your time aslong as somebody is benefiting for the time your are being in prison they dont care how much it costs the state. you might aswell serve your time in peace knowing you are guilty of what you did. use your knowledge to help others to not make the same mistake you did. if you can save more lives then you took, then just maybe God will forgive you and give you some freedom. God is the only one that can help Terry. you must give your life to god and do as i say use your knowledge to help others ans save their lives with your testimony. stop them from wasting their lives and show them the right way to live. when you accomplish this give God the GLORY he deserves. sincerly, johnetan God Bless you terry!

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Avatar for user 'lasielg89'

lasielg89 | June 17, 2010 at 9:36 a.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

I think you should never go out base in your professionalism and your degree you knew what you were doing. For that reason you kill an innocent life that's your punishment for your behaviors.

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Avatar for user 'bahknee85'

bahknee85 | June 21, 2010 at 1:42 p.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

I think we shouldnt waste so much money on them and use it more on those people that need our tax money for example our kids educations etc....

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Avatar for user 'dsalcedo'

dsalcedo | June 24, 2010 at 4:46 a.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

I think we should take care of the inmate, but not spend drastic amount of money on them for healthcare. Prison is suppose to be a punishment to a certain degree. Nowadays, prisons are starting to look like country clubs and they should be retained for their crime. Taking the life of one SHOULD deserve the same punishment. If anything, a life or 2 sentences due to the fact that they have taken an innocent life or used for self-defense.

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Avatar for user 'arturo1992'

arturo1992 | June 24, 2010 at 8:17 a.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

I believe that what Dsalcedo said it pretty true. we should take care of the inmates and but not spend all that money they are spending on them!
because know in days the economy is really bad and we cant be speding 44millions a year on imates, i think that imates that are 80+ year old and doing life should just be release or put to sleep! that way we dont spend 44 million a year on them and we can make the economy better.

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Avatar for user 'DDELTORO45'

DDELTORO45 | June 24, 2010 at 8:17 a.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

Well the truth is that, I think that we should care of the inmate. But we should'nt spent more than half million dollar on people who really dont diserve any type of help or support from anybody. But if you think that we should help the inmate and spent mor than half million dollars on them. Than be my guess. Its true what DSALCEDO is saying the prions and institution no are starting to look like a DAMN house party. The prisons should start making those basterd from taking or destoring alife. A EYE FOR ANY EYE AND BLOOD FOR BLOOD.Thank You

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Avatar for user 'DanielLlorens'

DanielLlorens | June 24, 2010 at 8:39 a.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

I think that a murderer should get the death penalty, an eye for an eye is what i believe. It cost too much money to keep inmates in prison and it is all tax payers money, that should not be like that, why keep them in prison, that's just a waist of money. The money we use to keep them locked up could be used for better things in our country.

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Avatar for user 'charles1989'

charles1989 | June 24, 2010 at 8:46 a.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

i think that mr campbell should never see the light of day, he did something very bad and he's getting what he deserves

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Avatar for user 'jixza'

jixza | June 24, 2010 at 8:55 a.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

i think that everyone inside a jail has a different story, it's very sad know that people that are in jail hurted or took somebody's life,because they didn't know how to control themsefl and its incredible the amount of money they spend to be in jail.

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Avatar for user 'lzeron'

lzeron | June 24, 2010 at 9:04 a.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

A person that take a live from another person shoul not have the rights of been out on the word. Mr. Campbell is in the place that he will not come out, even that he is taking a lot of advantages from the programs offered in jail.
Also jail is to punish not to merith.

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Avatar for user 'Debyaa'

Debyaa | June 24, 2010 at 9:05 a.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

I personally think that its time for campbell to get out of prision. He did his time for 44 years its more then enough his already an ederly man and it's in need of health care. If the prision is sobbing about the amount of money that they are spending on their inmates with the health care then let him out and place him on probahation, it will solve the the problem. He did his time and seems like a changed person.

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Avatar for user 'Alvaro'

Alvaro | June 24, 2010 at 11:17 a.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

Everybody that's in prison has their own story on how they ended up in there. i honestly think if somebody takes somebodies life that person should also lose their life. instead of locking people up for soooo long is unfair. either kill them before they go to prison or let them go when they get old. im pretty sure all the old prisoners have learned their lesson. we (the tax payers) find it unfair to waste so much money on a bad person who F*** up in life. they should just take their lives instead of wasting millions of dollars.

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Avatar for user 'animal19'

animal19 | June 24, 2010 at 7:34 p.m. ― 6 years, 9 months ago

I think that instead of wasting that much money for criminals, they should use it for schools(education). to hired more teachers, so there would be less student per class. those people are there because they are criminals, and they shouldnt be treated like that. If students get a beter education there would be less crime in the streets because they have an education, they wouldnt be delinquent, and the governement would be saving money...

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Avatar for user 'norlyn'

norlyn | July 15, 2010 at 8:18 a.m. ― 6 years, 8 months ago

i personally think that it's a huge amount of money being wasted on people who have messed up in their lives. i believe that if a person killls another person their punishment should be death by the electic chair. some of these killers kill and show mo remorse. they should just be killed instead of wastin million of tax paying money per year.

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Avatar for user 'alok01health'

alok01health | July 15, 2010 at 11:42 a.m. ― 6 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for this post. I prefer posting comments myself. There are certain benefits of doing this. Firstly I read the post and that way I gain knowledge and experience. If I find something interesting, I can add it to my favorite list. Since I post the comments I m sure about myself and that gives me peace of mind.

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Avatar for user 'ranchosantafe'

ranchosantafe | July 17, 2010 at 9:40 a.m. ― 6 years, 8 months ago

Here is what I think. Terry Campbell obviously isn't the same uneducated thug he was back in 1966. He has used his time well and is a changed person. Problem is he murdered someone. I have heard it costs taxpayers anywhere from $23k to $45k a year to support an inmate. Our laws and religious nut jobs out there who condemn the death penalty are out dated. Here is my proposal. Option one, if you murder an innocent person and are charged with murder in the first degree you will be put to death within 24 hours after you sentencing. Option two, once convicted of the crime let the family of the victim choose your sentence. My guess the murderer will be given the death penalty. I would also like to add rapist & child molesters to the list. Any thoughts out there?

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Avatar for user 'carlitos_way123'

carlitos_way123 | August 11, 2010 at 8:19 a.m. ― 6 years, 7 months ago

In thsi video one of the many prisoner Terry Campbell was taking about how life in prison is and how the state of california is paying for his medical. Also they talk about how in prison they would also like to add rapest and child molesters to the list...

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Avatar for user 'mrjoeveteran'

mrjoeveteran | January 18, 2014 at 3:45 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

I realize that I am posting my comment rather late from the initial airing date, however, I did recently have the opportunity to view the interview with Mr. Campbell and read the comments posted. First, I must convey my initial response to some of the comments posted. In my opinion it is extremely disappointing to read or attempt to read the ignorant ramblings of an uneducated person condemning another person for their misdeeds. We live in a very complex society, especially here in the United States. This is a country made of many cultures, races, religions and customs which makes our job of identifying justice that much more difficult. Education is the key to maturity, knowledge, and success. Once we can add experience to education we usually see successful individuals. Not one of us is without sin or wrongdoing. Here is a man that has been punished beyond death in my opinion. To this day Mr. Campbell has served 48 years of his life in prison. There isn't one person that commented on this issue that can even remotely relate to what Mr. Campbell has experienced. I do not believe that any amount of years will justify the crime he committed. It isn't the years it is what Mr. Campbell has achieved and accomplished within those years that should be considered. We see many criminals commit crimes in our society and with a high price lawyer they get away with the crime. Other criminals are arrested sentenced and continue to commit crimes in prison and they are still released. There is no doubt our justice system needs continuous improvement but its the best one we have for now. I would urge you individuals that have posted comments here that clearly show your lack of academic ability to seek out more education. Hopefully you will not need to commit a crime to finally find time to educate yourself. Mr. Campbell is 1 individual that should be considered very carefully for release due to his accomplishments toward rehabilitation rather than looking at him because he is elderly now and to costly to maintain. We have a long way to go before we claim to be a truly civilized society.

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