Gangs of a different color learn to live together in Yakima jail

Gangs of a different color learn to live together in Yakima jail »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Different gangs in jail actually getting along. On the outside, they're enemies. It turns out some ex-gang members have forged a friendship.

If you play cards, you know each has a purpose. Each belongs to a different family or suit. On the outside and in most jail cells, gang culture stays that way -- separate.

But inside the anti-gang unit, the different gangs are shuffled. Full of Cripps, Surenos, and Aryan's and more.

"We talk like we're friends, we're cool," said Ex-Sureno Jose Contreras.

"And that relationship wouldn't be like this outside of these walls," we asked.

"Oh, no not at all," said Jose.

Jose no longer defines himself as a gang member. Instead, as an artist with hope he can leave here and not go back to the gang life.

"Two strikes on my record," said Ex-Crips member, Dale Demo. "If I catch that third strike, it's life."

Dale knows this anti-gang unit may be his last chance. He says the gang life put him here. He wants to help others get out before they're on the inside.

A few bunks down, an Aryan carries the same message.

"If we can do it, other people can see and they can do it," said Patrick Elledge, an Ex-Aryan member.

But for Patrick, being surrounded by old enemies wasn't always easy.

"Difficult to try to make friends with people who you were raised to grow up your whole life and not like," said Patrick.

Over the last two years, the gang-free unit has grown slowly. While there aren't numbers to prove its success on the outside, Jose says his new found brothers have reported back.

"Someone who got out, they are doing good right now, has no gang problem," said Jose.

Re-shuffled in jail now, with hope the deck won't be stacked against them later.

The Department of Corrections says there are some limitations. Authorities say they would like to expand the program, but a lack of volunteers and money make any major improvements impossible.