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U.S. Prison Industrial Complex Favors Punishment Over Rehabilitation; Steve Leifman and Norm Ornstein are Interviewed About U.S. Justice System; Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Responds to Ted Yoho's Verbal Abuse; Voting in 2020; Interview With Amma Asante. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired July 24, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
As protests continue to shape the United States, the entire justice system is on trial. We talk to a trailblazing judge about how jails are being
filled by criminalizing the mentally ill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to demand true equality.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are here to move history forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: "Mrs. America." I speak to a director of that new series, Amma Asante, about the 1970's Women's Liberation Movement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES STEWART, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, MIT: That's one of the things I'm concerned about this November is that some of the states that
are seeing the big surges in vote by mail also have traditions at rejecting a lot of mail-in ballots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: MIT election expert, Charles Stewart, warns our Hari Sreenivasan, states need to start preparing to protect those votes now.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
The moral reckoning underway in the United States right now also centers around the nation as the world's biggest jailer. If its prison population
were a city at almost 2.3 million, it would be among the country's 10 largest. It is not just the awful prospect that one in every three young
black men can expect to end up in jail, but also about 400,000 people with serious mental illnesses find themselves behind bars on any given day in
America. And the entire prison industrial complex favors punishment over rehabilitation.
That is where a trailblazing Miami judge, Steve Leifman, comes in with a new program trying to steer the mentally ill towards treatment instead of
jail cells. It's also the topic of a new documentary on PBS, looking at how to rescue people like this young man, Stephon Berry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Stephon Berry, Jail Diversion Program Client: I always had a lower life that I had this whole schizophrenia thing, it really drowned my mind, like
everything was crazy. Like I didn't know what was going on at the time. It was a real psychological warfare. As I move forward right now, towards
program, it's my only way to confusions (ph) and everything that my thinking process needs from the program. I think my thought process is
always messed up. But when a program started to come through and the teachers helping, that's how I learned to get better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Steve Leifman is a judge for the 11th Circuit Court of Florida and he's the program's architect, and he's joining us from Miami. And Norm
Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who helped commission the documentary, and he joining us from Washington, D.C.
Gentleman, thank you both for joining us.
Steve Leifman, let me ask you first since you're sort of the architect of this novel program. I was struck by one of the lines at the very top of the
program where it says that you came to this after essentially making what you describe as one of the biggest mistakes of your professional life.
Describe that and how it led you to where you are now.
STEVE LEIFMAN, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE, ELEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT COURT OF FLORIDA: Sure, and thank you so much for having us on today. I
actually had a case where the defendant turned out to be a Harvard-educated psychiatrist who had a late onset of schizophrenia. He became homeless and
he started to recycle through the criminal justice system. And he ended up having a full-blown psychotic episode in my courtroom and he was charged
with a ridiculously minor offense.
Now, I'll tell you at the time, this is about 20 years ago, judges in Florida and the most part around the United States have absolutely no
training on how to deal or identify people with mental illnesses and what to do with them. And so, after he had this terrible episode in my court
where he was screaming, his real parents died in the holocaust and the people in court which were his real parents were from the CIA and they had
come to kill him.
I ordered an entire battery of psychological evaluations to see if he was competent to stand trial because that's all I thought I could do, which was
pretty much all I could do. So, he ended up spending 10 to 12 weeks on possession of the dairy cart, nothing but a misdemeanor. And at the end of
12 weeks, I learned that I had no legal authority to have him hospitalized or treated, and I had to release him right back to the street.
And so, I was unable to fulfill the promise I had actually made his parents, but I put him at risk, I put the community at risk. I probably put
my job at risk, God forbid something terrible happened to him or he did something terrible, but he just disappeared and he never came back and it's
been 20 years. And I couldn't tell you if he's dead or alive today. And it just became a window to everything that was wrong with our legal system.
AMANPOUR: And we're going to get more into that, but I want to turn to Norm Ornstein who is a congressional expert and not necessarily in this
field, but you come to it also from a very personal standpoint. Your son, very sadly, died after a long struggle with mental illness. Tell me a
little about that and why that brought you to commission this film, which, by the way, is called "The Definition of Insanity."
NORM ORNSTEIN, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: Thanks, Christiane. My son, Matthew, who was a brilliant young man, a national champion high school debater,
went to Princeton, was out in Hollywood and doing well. And at 24 had a psychotic break, believed that God had come for him, had taken his soul but
not his body, and he was on a struggle to get back his soul. He had no insight into his illness and went through 10 months of hell, as we did in
his family, because the system is broken and there was nothing that we could do.
He was over 18. We couldn't order treatment or get -- often information about where he was or what he was doing. And he died at age 34, on January
3, 2015 accidentally, carbon monoxide poisoning in a motel room, and we decided that rather than curl up into balls as we were inclined to do, we
wanted to do something to help other families from going through what we went through and help other people from going through what Matthew went
And as we went on our journey to do something along these lines, we encountered Judge Leifman. My wife and I -- Judith Harris and I went down
to Miami, immersed ourselves in the program, we're blown away by the fact that you could save lives and save money, and decided that if we could do a
documentary on this, personalizing it, and showing through the power of film, we could then take it around the country and maybe to other places
and use it as a catalyst to spread best practices.
AMANPOUR: Well, clearly, you know, you probably hadn't realized, but these best practices is coming at the most incredible time. Because everybody is
trying to figure out how to implement best practices in other parts of, you know, the system in the United States, including police reform, et cetera.
So, I just want to ask you, Judge Leifman, to put it in some sort of numerical context how bad this situation is. I've read a couple statistics
that every year more than 1.7 million people with serious mental illnesses are arrested. And you said, when I became a judge, I had no idea I was
becoming a gatekeeper to the largest psychiatric facility in the State of Florida, the Miami-Dade County Jail.
LEIFMAN: So, we have about five times more people in our jail with serious mental illnesses just in Miami-Dade County than at any state psychiatric
hospital in Florida. And it's not that they just get arrested more, they stay four to eight times longer than someone else for the exact same charge
because the courts don't know what to do with them.
And so, they recycle in an enormous way. In fact, we had a study, and I'll be really quick, but it just highlights everything. We sent one of our
local universities the names of 3,300 people who had come through our program, and we asked them to tell us who the highest utilizers were with
mental illnesses and criminal justice backgrounds. And they were able to narrow it down from 3,300 to 97 people, primarily men, primarily diagnosed
with schizoaffective disorders or schizophrenia, primarily homeless and primarily co-occurring, meaning they have both the mental health disorder
and a substance use disorder.
Over five years, these 97 people were arrested 2,200 times, they spent 20,000 days in the Miami-Dade County Jail, 13,000 days at a psychiatric
state facility, cost taxpayers $14.7 million, and we got absolutely nothing from it.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me, then, what your program is doing and what has it done? So, you have people, they come into your courtroom, they've been
accused of either a petty crime or whatever, but you know that they're mentally ill. What do you do, and what are the results?
LEIFMAN: So, we've actually taken a two-part approach, and if I were to do it again, I would take a three-part approach, and I'll hopefully get to
that in a minute. But we have both the pre-imposed arrest diversion system. So, we have trained over 7,500 police officers in Miami-Dade County at all
36 of our police departments in a program called Crisis Intervention Team policing, which is a 40-hour training program that teaches law enforcement
officers how to identify someone who is in crisis, how to de-escalate the situation as opposed to escalating it, and then where to take them as
opposed to arresting them.
And it has been -- that part alone has been enormously successful. Over the last eight years, our two largest agencies, the City of Miami and Miami-
Dade County, who handle about 60 percent of all the calls, they handled 91,472 mental health calls yet they only made 52 arrests out of those
91,000 plus cases. Police shootings almost, police injuries almost stopped, injuries and excessive force to individuals with mental illnesses almost
stopped, and we actually reduced the number of arrests in Dade County from a high of about 118,000 a year to 53,000 this year.
We also have a post arrest diversion program. We changed the screening tools at the jail to do a better job identifying people who have these
illnesses when they come in. And if you do get picked up on a misdemeanor and you meet our criteria, within three days we get you out of jail, we
send you to a crisis stabilization unit, we get you stabilized, and then we give you the opportunity to come into our program. And if you agree, which
most of them do, they don't go back to jail, they go directly from the crisis unit to the courtroom.
And when they get to the courtroom, one of our eight-peer specialists, these are people with lived experiences, who live with serious mental
illnesses who are in recovery, four of them actually graduated from our program, are waiting for them. They're waiting for them with their
medication, with -- I'm sorry, go ahead.
AMANPOUR: Yes. No, no. I just want to -- we've got a few clips from the movie. So, I want to actually illustrate some of it. So, the crisis
intervention part of it is very important because in -- whether it's, you know, with shooting unarmed black men on the street or killing unarmed
black men to, you know, getting all, you know, pumped up, this is a big problem in terms of the police and law enforcement.
So, I was really interested to see this little clip in the film where, as you say, they're given training on how to de-escalate, you know, the
tension. Let's just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HABSI KABA, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY CRISIS INTERVENTION TEAM: Come up. Thank you, thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning. How are you?
KABA: I'm so happy that you're here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me too.
KABA: Will you join me in singing the national anthem?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where?
KABA: Right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now?
KABA: OK. No, no, please, please, take a step back, just take a step back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. No problem. Not a problem.
KABA: OK. OK. What made you take a step back?
Well, what CIT teaches the officer is to see more than just, you know, the obvious potential crime.
If I just ask you to take a step back, it did not compromise your officer's safety and you were able to just take a step back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to compromise from time with these people sometimes, man. I mean, it can't always be you, you, you. You got to de-
escalate it at times.
KABA: Exactly. Beautiful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Really interesting to watch that at work, obviously, role playing there. And again, the figures are approximately 3,757 fewer jail
bookings of people with serious mental illnesses every year, reduction in jail admissions are cost cut of about $29 million per year, number of
police shootings significantly reduced. I mean, you can see the figures, which are amazing.
I just want to also ask Norm. When you see that, you see it, you know, in the documentary that you commissioned, what do you -- you know, you also do
a lot of study for governance and the rest. How do you see that being able to play into a wider also, I guess, attempt to reform elements of policing
and funding various, as we've heard, defund the police, but just put funds into mental health and other social needs?
ORNSTEIN: So, what we learned from the Miami program is that you can save lives and save money. It takes an initial investment doing the Crisis
Intervention Team policing, for example. What Judge Leifman has also been able to do, is to train the 911 responders when there are emergency calls
coming in to make sure the right teams get there.
What it's also done is to identify for police officers their own mental health issues and an awful lot of the violence that occurs with police, and
that includes violence that they inflict on themselves, more police dying of suicide every year than in the line of duty, that if you can deal with
those you're going to have less ability to have real problems on the streets.
So, an investment at the beginning and a focus on how you can change from training to escalate to training to de-escalate has repercussions that go
beyond those with serious mental illness on the streets. It affects all the behavior and encounters between police and others. And if we can focus on
some of these things that are more positive things that can be done, we might de-escalate the tension that now exists between belligerent police
unions and officers often times and those who are trying to reform the system.
It's really important to figure out ways in which we can make positive transformation of the police and the broader criminal justice system. And
of course, one other element I want to raise here, Christiane, is that all of the people in prisons, including so many with mental illness, all of
those who are homeless, including so many with mental illness, they are hotbeds for COVID. Right now, the urgency of making some of these changes
is amplified because COVID is making all of it worse.
AMANPOUR: Well, to that end, obviously I'm going to ask you, Judge Leifman, because there you are in Miami and Florida is sadly an epicenter
right now. What is the state of COVID in your city and your state?
LEIFMAN: It's pretty drastic and pretty dire. I think we just passed our 10th day with at least about 10,000 cases. We actually went up another
2,500 today. We seem pretty rudderless and a lot of confusion going on and not a lot of direction of where we should be going. So, I don't see a way
out of this any time soon. The hospitals are totally full, the ICUs are full, and in some parts of the country they're making ethical decisions on
who they should accept and who they shouldn't accept because there are just not enough ventilators or staff to deal with the number of people coming
in. It's pretty horrifying.
AMANPOUR: Well, that is actually a horrifying piece of information. I hadn't been aware of that. It sounds, you know, almost as bad as at the
beginning when there weren't enough beds and PPE and ventilators and the rest. Is that what you're saying now is happening?
LEIFMAN: It's -- yes and worse. And the difference in the earlier states is they started at a high level, but they really had strategies in place to
get it down. There doesn't really seem to be anything changing. I mean, some people are still walking around with no masks. I mean, they are
starting to put some mask orders in place and you'll get fined now in Dade County if you don't have one on, but it's still pretty spotty and
I just don't think some people understand the gravity of the situation. They've gotten too many mixed messages, too many different news outlets
giving different ideas, and that's really dangerous when you're dealing with public health.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, Norm Ornstein, because that does sound horrifying. And we see it to an extent there are issues here with -- you
know, where I am, in London. There's meant to be a mandatory mask wearing and you don't see it in stores and the like. It's quite scary.
Let me ask you about the election, though. You have an election coming up in November, and there's also concerns about that, about, you know, will
the president who had an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News would not say whether he would leave if he lost. You -- again, you work in these
issues. What are you thinking about the election, the sanctity of the vote, the mail-in ballots, et cetera?
ORNSTEIN: So, I'm working with a number of groups and task forces on election crises. I'm glad you're having Charles Stewart on to talk about
one important part of this. We're going to have a massive increase in votes by mail, and that will create chaos. We are unlikely to have an election
result on election eve.
What President Trump has done is to go after votes by mail, say that they're inherently corrupt. What that means is we're going to have fewer
Republicans voting by mail, and the results that come in on election eve, which will be very partial ones, may show him ahead in some places, but the
final results could show him losing by a lot, but he might not accept those results. He's already made it clear that he does not believe that the votes
cast by mail are legitimate. That's ridiculous and false. We do not have evidence of corruption in votes by mail. And we're very possibly going to
have chaos here.
We can only hope that we do not have a close election. And we may see this extending into December and even into January. And one other thing to keep
in mind, Christiane, is that in the fall with the flu season emerging as well, COVID could get that much worse and this massive failure in public
policy starting at the top with the president, extending to a number of other governors and others, the tribalization of dealing with public health
could make the election even more chaotic. So, we're braced for some bad things, and a lot of us are working, as I am a lot, to try and keep them
AMANPOUR: Thank you, and of course we will hear more from the MIT expert, Charles Stewart, later on. Gentlemen, thank you both because you have
really given sort of a playbook for how some of the structural issues in the United States could be reformed, and it's really very interesting and
heartening. Thank you very much, Judge Leifman and Norm Ornstein.
Now, with structural racism in the spotlight, perhaps the focus on everyday misogyny has taken the backseat for a bit, but not if progressive
congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has anything to say about it, and she does. In an electrifying floor speech, lambasting what she calls a faux
apology by Republican congressman, Ted Yoho, accused of using misogynistic cursed words about her this week, this is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho's
disrespect on the floor of this House towards me on television, in using that language in front of the press, he gave permission to use that
language against his wife, his daughters, women in his community, and I am here to stand up to say that is not acceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, what is and what is not acceptable is the timely topic of a hit new miniseries on Hulu, it's called "Mrs. America" and it's about the
controversial 1970s anti-feminist, Phyllis Schlafly, who is determined to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment.
My next guest is the filmmaker, Amma Asante. She has directed two of the episodes as well as some of "The Handmaid's Tale" and films such as "Belle"
and "A United Kingdom." And she is joining us from here in London.
Amma Asante, welcome to the program.
Could I just first ask you to react to AOC's comments and how she said she didn't want that kind of faux apology after that kind of misogyny and
sexism directed at her? What does that say to you about this moment, in fact?
AMMA ASANTE, SCREENWRITER AND DIRECTOR: I think it was powerful. I think the way that she structured her whole response, which I only saw this
morning. I'm speaking from Denmark and I managed to catch it this morning, was quite the incredible. I think the way that she laid out how misogyny
can work in our world today was really impressive and incredibly powerful, the idea that you can be a husband, the idea that you can be a powerful
man, the idea that you can have children, the idea that you can have a wife are not a defense, you know, against everyday misogyny and the kind of
everyday misogyny that we see.
So, I thought it was incredibly powerful and the she has a platform from which she can speak today. It tells us everything about today. We've come a
long way but clearly still have a long way to go.
AMANPOUR: Which, of course, brings me obviously to your series, because it's called "Mrs. America." It's about the American feminism and Women's
Liberation Movement of the '70s. And how much did you know about that part of history? What attracted you to that now?
ASANTE: I knew a little bit. I knew specifically about Shirley Chisholm and I knew about Gloria Steinem. I particularly knew about Gloria's
magazine, Ms. magazine, and what it stood for, what it was about. But I had to do a real kind of cramming of research and information as I took on the
two episodes that I directed, because it was a big subject and there were so many aspects that were coming together all at the same time, a little
bit like today, that made it important for me to really try and catch up, specifically for my episodes.
So, you know, not so much, but enough to be interested. And what attracted me, I guess, was the fact that the series was also going to be looking at
the intersection, not just feminism as it pertained to white women of the time, but as it pertained and needed to include black women as well, and I
was particularly always struck by Shirley's journey and what it meant to be as courageous as she was at the time and not just being, you know, the
first black person to step up and do what she did, but also the first woman and what that meant for her journey.
AMANPOUR: Yes, and what she actually did was pretty remarkable. She was the first black woman elected to the U.S. from New York. She took a seat
for New York. She ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 1972. And, you know, her slogan was on board and unbossed. And you -- that's the
real Shirley Chisholm. And actually, you know what, I'm actually going to play a quick clip of the real Shirley Chisholm and how she described her
campaign and what she stood for before I get to how you dramatized it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. REP. SHIRLEY CHISHOLM, (D-NY): I am not for candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the
women's movement of this country, although I am a woman and I'm equally proud of that. I am not the candidate of any political voices or fat cats
or special interest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's really amazing to hear that and to hear the applause she got, because today those are the issues. You know, progressives, you know,
people who want equality saying that they are not the candidate of special interest or fat cats. She went on to say, I am the candidate for the
And yet, you in your episode show that even amongst the established movement there, people like Bella Abzug, also a congresswoman from New
York, Gloria Steinem and others, they didn't actually 100 percent support her run for president. I'm just going to play -- a clip and then we can
talk about the whole lot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARGO MARTINDALE, ACTOR, "MRS. AMERICA": I am trying to protect our interest, put pressure in the places that makes real results, not symbolic.
I am not going to let your ego get in the way.
UZO ADUBA, ACTOR, "MRS. AMERICA": My ego. If you were running for president, not only would this entire movement endorse you, we would host
fundraisers, knock on doors make phone calls --
MARTINDALE: Because I would go about it the right way. Do you want us to be taken seriously or not? She got 2 percent of the vote. She took money
from the Black Panthers and their endorsement. Her campaign is a joke.
Shouldn't have said that.
ADUBA: You always said you would support me. Why couldn't you go all the way?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that is a very full clip encompassing so many issues. Just what does it say to you there?
ASANTE: It says so many things, Christiane. I mean, first and foremost, I think what it says to me is that this was big, and the complexities that
were involved, which is just big, and how you move forward in a movement when you have to both look at the detail and the bigger picture is an
And, you know, for Shirley navigating all of this, I mean, these questions of whether at the same time is pushing the women's movement forward, if you
like, you can also push forward the black movement, which is something that could have happened, perhaps, if Shirley had been able to get a little bit
further, if you like, in her journey and in her challenge is interesting to me.
But it also says that, you know, look, all of these women together were looking at a bigger picture, and they were looking for whatever reason at a
win that they felt, perhaps, might benefit all women. And at the time, for whatever reason, it's possible that they felt that Shirley would have been
a win for perhaps, you know, the black community rather than wholly for the women's community, and they felt McGovern was a stronger bet, is how it
appears when you look at history and when you read back.
It -- of course, it would be interesting now to speak to all those women and find out what they would say about this. But looking back, when you
read the history, that's perhaps what it feels like.
AMANPOUR: Yes, for sure. And, you know, the idea of, you know, who is electable, whether -- you know, when we've had that issue in this current,
you know, the Democratic candidates this time around as well.
But I just want to ask you, do you think in this moment of Black Lives Matter that she is getting her jewel, or will get her jewel, that this will
help her refocus? Because let's not forget that the two big movements, #MeToo was started by a black woman, Tarana Burke. Black Lives Matter was
started by three young black women. You know, they are the ones who are powering the two huge movements that are taking place right now.
ASANTE: Absolutely. There are definitely great parallels for today.
And I really hope that that means that Shirley will get her due, because, of course, embedded in all of this is our ideas, I should say, of Eurasia,
and the fact that, oftentimes, as women of color and black women, we make - - we make headway. We move societies forward. We help societies to evolve.
And for someone like Shirley, she doesn't always get her to you. So I'm really hoping that a show like -- and the specific episode about Shirley in
a show like "Mrs. America" will open a door to her being more recognized.
I mean, it's really wonderful to receive messages on social media and generally e-mails and the like saying, we didn't know the story of Shirley
Chisholm, and it's really, really interesting to learn from the show of what she was.
And I think that's something that I really enjoy doing. I'm not a historian, and I'm certainly not an activist. But what I love to do is sort
of find my way, perhaps, to telling stories that can become the conduit or the pathway towards history, so that people can go and look this stuff up
themselves. They can read in books, they can go online, they can find out about her, and find out that really we do stand on shoulders.
And I think one other thing I'd love to say is that we really have to assess what we think of as a win, because, essentially, she didn't win. She
wasn't a candidate. But she won because she has changed the world to a certain extent that we live in. And I think that's very important.
AMANPOUR: And, obviously, all the others who are profiled as well.
I mean, Bella Abzug an episode, Betty Friedan, who's known as the mother of the movement with the feminine mystique, Gloria Steinem, I think Jill
Ruckelshaus. I mean, it's -- and Phyllis Schlafly, of course.
And this is where it's so interesting, the way your life collides with this. So we have a picture of you as a young girl at the White House during
the Reagan years. And you're there with Nancy Reagan, because you, in your school, in your career came up with a song, "Just Say No," which obviously
was her theme tune about drugs.
I wonder whether you could ever have imagined that it was Ronald Reagan, and with Phyllis Schlafly, the anti-feminist, who basically stood against
all of that progress. And the ERA has never gone through.
ASANTE: Yes. And, as I say it's really complex, because, in the very, very beginning, of course, it was the Republicans that supported the idea of the
amendment going through. And for various reasons, that changed.
But I have to say that it was always a sort of bipartisan support that -- and, actually, on both sides. There were various people on both sides that
supported and didn't support the amendment at different times.
And I had no idea, of course, of anything called the Equal Rights Amendment when I attended the White House at the age -- I think I was 16 years old. I
attended with "Grange Hill," which was a BBC drama series for children.
And all I knew was that I was attending the house of the president in the United States. I think it's really ironic, in a way, that I was there. And
now I have obviously directed these episodes. And, yes, it was Reagan and the Democratic -- sorry -- the Republican Party at the time that then stood
against this, much in part because of the impacts that Phyllis Schlafly had.
And, of course, the amendment was never ratified because of that, you know?
AMANPOUR: And now, of course, in the intervening years, all the number of states required have ratified it. The House has ratified it. It's the
Republican Senate that has not passed this amendment. And it's a very interesting moment right now. I wonder if it will be passed at some point.
But I want to ask you on the bigger now sort of Black Lives Matter issue, that we're seeing a call for a redress of the imbalance in your industry,
TV, theater, movies, the whole cultural picture, as well as many, many others.
And you have signed a letter, along with a lot of prominent black actors and TV personalities, calling for a change in the industry. Tell me about
what you're asking for and whether you think this is a moment where it will be addressed.
ASANTE: I think, since I came into the industry many decades ago now, we have been having conversations about equality and the idea of a level
And whilst things have minimally improved, nothing has changed to the extent that you could call it a satisfying redress, if you like. And I
think that's what we're calling for, is meaningful change, which we haven't arrived at yet.
We're still in a situation where I think, if I'm right, I still represent, as a black director who is also female, but is also British, under 1
percent of the industry. And that is because there is such a lack of opportunity.
Between my first film, if you like, and my second film -- my first film, through which I -- for which I won many awards, including a BAFTA Award,
there was a 10-year gap between that first film, an entire decade, for through which I had to sort of sustain myself and keep the idea of keeping
a career going in this industry at the forefront of my mind and my motivations and my intentions.
And, because of that, I think that there is a real deficit of talent of color within our industry. And what I mean by that is not that that talent
doesn't exist, but opportunity for that talent still does not exist quite in the way that it should.
ASANTE: And so what we're asking for is the right for all of us, not just me, but for all of us who have the talent to have the opportunity to be
given the same consideration that our peers who are non-black or are white have received and who have traditionally had the privilege, the privilege
to be called masters of their craft, the privilege to be called the geniuses, the privilege to be able to fail, and not just succeed.
And that's something that we're asking for the opportunity for.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, this is being asked and demanded in the United States as well, Broadway and all those areas.
I just love, number one, of your calls, your demands in this letter -- quote -- "Banish your weak excuses."
Amma Asante, thank you so much for joining us.
ASANTE: Thank you. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now -- and from Denmark. I was wrong. You're not here in London. You're in Denmark. Thank you very much, indeed.
ASANTE: I'm in Denmark. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, you can watch this series on FX -- or the FX series on Hulu.
With the presidential election fast approaching, many states are expanding postal voting in an effort to keep people safe amid the coronavirus
pandemic. But problems with recent primaries are ringing alarm bells.
Charles Stewart is a professor of political science and the director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab.
And here he is speaking with our Hari Sreenivasan about why this has become so politically charged and how officials need to prepare for November.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane.
Charles, thanks for joining us.
There's been a lot of talk in the last few weeks about the importance of giving people access to vote by mail, considering that we're heading into
an election in the middle of the pandemic, that voting from home would be better for your health, right?
I want to talk a little bit about your concerns about why we should not rely too heavily on this as our one-size-fits-all solution.
CHARLES STEWART, DIRECTOR, MIT ELECTION DATA AND SCIENCE LAB: There's many reasons we want to retain robust in-person voting sites.
An important reason is that a number of people just need to vote in person. They could be people with disabilities. They could be people who don't --
have made mistakes with the mail ballot system. We have seen a number of cases during the primaries where ballots arrive late, et cetera.
There are people who don't trust the Postal Service. And then, finally, we just know a lot about voter behavior. And we know that the people who vote
in November, particularly the ones voting in November who didn't vote in the primaries, are going to be, by and large, low-propensity voters, people
who are not as attuned to politics as probably the people watching this show are.
And they're going to decide at the last minute to vote, and they're going to need a place to go to vote. And when those people flood into polling
places, we want to make sure that there aren't undue long lines out in the streets waiting to get in.
And we want to be able to move people through these enclosed polling places as quickly as we can. So, we need a lot of -- we need in-person polling
places, and we need a lot of them.
SREENIVASAN: If you were to design a system today, what would that mix be, given the circumstances that we're in? If you're advising an election
official, what do you tell them to plan for, how many people show up in person vs. how many people -- they might have a surge in mail-in ballots
above normal, but what should they be prepared for in November?
STEWART: Well, I mean, the advice is going to be very specific, of course, to the jurisdiction and to the state.
But, generally speaking, right now, I think we have to, first of all, take into account that we really don't know for sure, and that we have to build
in a lot of resilience on both sides.
And so I have been jokingly saying that, most places, plan for 70 percent of your voters to turn out in mail and plan for 70 percent to turn out in
person. And we will see what the pandemic is like. We will see what President Trump is tweeting. We will see a wide variety of other things in
But plan for all contingencies.
SREENIVASAN: Since we have seen the lines in Wisconsin, and since the country has been grappling with this pandemic, which more of the country is
waking up to the fact that we are not dealing with it as well as we could or should, what does that do to voter confidence?
STEWART: One of the things that's really struck me during the primary season is that voters have actually risked their health to go vote. Turnout
in the Democratic primary in 2020 is on a par, in fact, up compared to what the turnout was in 2016.
It's been down on the Republican side, but it's not contested on that side. But, on the Democratic side, it's been up a little bit. So, voters are
going to the polls. They're mailing in their ballots, but they're also going in on Election Day.
And so I think that voters these days are intent the vote. They're going to vote on. And everything else about this election season tells me we should
actually expect for record turnout, even if there's a spike around Election Day, because of -- the attitudes and anxieties are just so high on both
SREENIVASAN: What are the fail rates associated with ballots that are mailed in?
STEWART: Well, there's a number of ways of measuring that.
In 2016, roughly 1 percent of ballots ended up being rejected, for instance, mail ballots ended up being rejected. And so that's a starting
point. But I think we also have to remember that different states are more likely to closely scrutinize ballots and be unforgiving of mistakes.
In the vote-by-mail states like Washington, Oregon, Colorado, their rejection rate in 2016 was closer to nine-tenths of 1 percent. But, in some
states that make it really hard -- New York has been a good example in the news the last few weeks. It can range that from 3 to 5 percent of rejection
And so that's one of the things I'm concerned about this November, is that some of the states that are seeing big surges in vote by mail also have
traditions of rejecting a lot of mail ballots, usually for highly technical reasons that are obscure to voters.
And the voters are kind of surprised when they see that their ballot has been rejected.
SREENIVASAN: The president of the United States for several weeks now has been making the case that mail-in ballots will contribute to the most
corrupt results, the most corrupt process, unless changed by the courts, will lead to the most corrupt election in our nation's history.
When you hear statements like that, is it justified by any fact?
STEWART: No, it's not.
And when I hear statements like that from President Trump, from Attorney General Barr, I mean, the first thing an expert like me thinks is that they
just don't know what they're talking about, because President Trump, for instance, is distinguishing between voting by mail, on one hand, and
absentee voting, on the other hand, which he has done, claiming that it's the vote-by-mail states where there's been massive fraud.
Well, again, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, they take this really seriously because it's their entire voting system. And there is no evidence at all in
those states that there's been massive fraud in the elections over the last decade or two in which they have been doing vote by mail.
So it's just not true. I mean, there is fraud sometimes. And voting by mail does have certain opportunities for it. But there are more failsafes in
voting by mail or voting absentee. And keep in mind there's more of a paper trail when you vote by mail than when you vote in-person.
And so it's easier to count -- to catch people who are trying to do something that's not right when they're voting by mail.
SREENIVASAN: What can election officials do to inspire confidence in the process? There was a recent ABC poll out that said almost half of Americans
think that voting by mail can be manipulated, is fraudulent, that it's susceptible to fraud.
SREENIVASAN: That's not just people who listen to the president. That's got to include others as well. But underlying that is that, what do you do
to make sure people feel that their vote is going to be securely counted?
A lot of the opinions that voters have about these matters, about whether an election is legitimate, et cetera, is actually driven by what they're
hearing from partisan leadership. And so it really does matter what President Trump says. It matters what Joe Biden says and other party
And so there's limits to what can be done if you're just worried about public opinion. But there are things that officials can do. And I think
that the most important thing that they can do is to be transparent about the process, to invite people to observe what's going on.
That's the best practice, and it's common around the country. To have no ballot counting rooms open to observers, put a Webcam in that room, so that
it's not just the party officials who are observing, but any citizen can watch the envelopes being open, and watch them being counted, can watch the
machines be calibrated and certified.
And I think that that -- being transparent about the process is probably the most important thing that election officials can do to satisfy those
who will take evidence as their guide for whether they can trust the system or not.
And then -- and then I hope -- I hope people like us will then be -- we will take that evidence in and judge for ourselves.
SREENIVASAN: How much actual election fraud is there? I mean, after the election of President Trump, he set up a commission for a while to study
this. I don't know if there were final results of that. But, historically, what's been the case? What is it at now?
STEWART: Well, that commission, President Trump's commission, disbanded without making a report.
Historically, back in the 19th -- late 19th century, where I think we gain a lot of our kind of casual beliefs about fraud, there was a lot of fraud,
there was a lot of coercion, there was a lot of double voting, et cetera. And a lot of the protections that we use in elections now come out of the
late 19th century.
But I would say that, by and large, since the mid 20th-century, with some exceptions from time to time, elections have been pretty, pretty clean in
most places. Very recently, there have been efforts to gather up and measure all of the prosecutions, for instance, for voter fraud around the
And when you add up all those prosecutions for voter fraud, say, over the last couple of decades, and you then divide by the total number of votes
that have been cast, in those couple of decades, you will discover the order of magnitude for fraud is something like a ballot per 100,000 or so.
I can't give that number on -- off the top of my head, but it's a very small number.
And when there is fraud, it gains a lot of attention. You get a lot of attention for it.
The final thing I would say about fraud is that the cases that we observe tend to be retail fraud, and especially in the -- on voting by mail. Think
about this way. Because of the paper trail that goes along with voting by mail, you know, it's really hard to try to basically organize hundreds of
people to all forge the same signature and do those sorts of things.
It's not easy to do. And so the types of fraud we do see in voting by mail is onesies and twosies. It's things like, widow Jones, papa Jones just
died, and she knows that he really wanted to support Donald Trump in his dying day, and so she will send in his ballot for him, stuff like that.
And it's oftentimes sad stories. But that's much, much, much, much more common than nefarious, I mean, truly nefarious attempts to try to corrupt
the system through any sort of voter fraud, whether it be by mail or in- person.
SREENIVASAN: Let's fast-forward to election night.
One of the things that you almost warn for is that we the press and really the country should be open to a scenario where there is not a winner that
STEWART: We need to be prepared for what some people have called election week, rather than Election Day. The reason for that is that many of these
local jurisdictions are going to be unable to automate the counting of their ballots.
In some states like Michigan, the state legislature is prohibiting election officials from even processing the mail ballots until the polls close. And
so there are things out there that will just cause the count to be longer than it's ever been before.
And we just need to be prepared for that. And, again, election officials need to be transparent about what's going on during that count. But we need
to be prepared for that.
SREENIVASAN: During Chris Wallace's interview with the president recently, the president was asked if he would accept the election results.
And he said: "I have to see. No, I'm not going to say yes. I'm not going to say no."
What did you think when you heard that news?
STEWART: Well, I went actually wasn't surprised, because that's what he said four years ago. And he's not become a bigger -- a bigger friend of
election administration since then.
And so I think that's unfortunate. I mean, there's a way of answering a question like that in which you maybe can acknowledge that there could be
disputes in the election and that one wants to fight for every vote you're legally entitled to. I understand that point.
But you can say, well, of course, after the counting is done, and the votes have been certified, I will accept that I have lost, if, in fact, on that's
what the votes say. So, there's a way of answering that question that doesn't give away the right to dispute legitimately what's going on, and
so, yes, very unfortunate.
SREENIVASAN: Are election officials ready? And if they're not ready, what can they do between now and Election Day?
STEWART: The -- I would say the issue is not so much, are they getting ready, but have the state legislatures and the (AUDIO GAP) created the
conditions under which they can act efficiently?
For instance, has the state legislature changed the laws so that you can start count -- or you can at least start processing mail ballots on
Election Day, rather than waiting for the polls to close, little things like that I think in some states haven't been done and may not be done?
Some local officials may not be able to buy the automation equipment to facilitate the easy mailing out and the processing of all the paper that
comes back. That cost is going to be paid in time at the back end, as processes and things are done manually.
So, my sense is that, by and large, election officials have gotten the word, gotten beaten up, know what they have to do, are being pushed to do
what they need to do. And -- but I wouldn't trust me. I would pay attention to what's happening in someone's state and locality and make sure that
that's actually what's happening.
SREENIVASAN: In addition to that, what keeps you up at night?
STEWART: Oh, in some ways, that's enough, right?
I -- there's a couple of things that worry me. One of the things that worries me right now is just being unable to recruit enough poll workers to
meet the in-person demand. There's been a lot of emphasis on voting by mail, and I think appropriately so. But it may have distracted a number of
people from the importance of voting in person.
And so that's something that really does worry me. But the second thing is this concern about the post-Election Day period going off the rails because
of just loose talk about fraud during the counting.
This is -- our democracy is too important just to be throwing around unfounded charges of fraud. And that's really the thing that keeps me up at
night and makes me realize that I think we're going to have to hunker down for at least two weeks after Election Day and be in constant battle mode,
because I think the campaigns, particularly Donald Trump -- I don't want to be accused of two-sider-ism here -- I think we have seen it more from the
Trump side -- will keep pushing and pushing and pushing as far and as hard as they can.
SREENIVASAN: All right, Charles Stewart, the professor of political science at MIT and part of the MIT-Stanford Healthy Election Project,
thanks so much for joining us.
STEWART: My pleasure. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And so important to set that standard now, and just make sure everything goes according to plan.
And, finally, we have shown you some of the powerful speech by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez against everyday misogyny.
Well, she's following in the great parliamentary tradition of Australia's first female prime minister, Julia Gillard. Back in 2012, she too had been
called that word which rhymes with witch.
The opposition leader at the time, Tony Abbott, had also stood in front of banners that read "Ditch the Witch," and then he tried to get the speaker
of the House fired for sexism. Gillard responded to that with a 15-minute slap-down that rallied women around the world.
And here's a little bit from that speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIA GILLARD, FORMER AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not.
And the government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man, not now, not ever.
The leader of the opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well, I hope the
leader of the opposition has got a piece of paper, and he is writing out his resignation, because, if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in
modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives.
He needs a mirror. That's what he needs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Marvelous, really.
Her words and AOC's resonate today, as the struggle for equality is fought on so many levels.
And that is it for now. Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.