By Jamie Lind.
THIS WEEK: AMERICA'S HARDEST PRISONS
There are 2.2 MILLION people locked up in the USA. Billed as “an educational look into prisons and jails,” America’s Hardest Prisons (also called Lockdown) takes you inside prisons across the United States for a look at life behind bars.
DO NOT be deterred by the word ‘educational’. This show is really great and I think the only thing I learned from it is ‘don’t go to prison’ and maybe also how to make a shank.
I used to have a pretty serious America’s Hardest Prisons habit. I had it on Series Link when I lived with my dad and had the luxury of MySky (those were the days, I was a fool to move out). I’d get into trouble when the DVR filled up with episodes of America’s Hardest Prisons, but I would always refuse to delete my favourites.
America’s Hardest Prisons is a truly fascinating look at life inside prison in the US, both for the incarcerated and the people who work in the prison system.
You get to know all sorts of criminals; some of them stereotypical dumb thugs and others who are thoughtful and articulate. Some boast of their crimes, others seem sincerely remorseful. On more than one occasion I googled the names of prisoners the show featured to see what had happened to them since the episode’s air date. I was totally emotionally invested! I cared!
America’s Hardest Prisons also taught me this valuable lesson:
Which was on a poster on the wall in a classroom in one of the prisons.
Highlights include a prison where 2000 prisoners live in TENTS, the Multnomah County Detention Center in Portland, which sees a never-ending stream of arrestees (the center books 45,000 people a year), and Diedreikus Albert, a man I can never quite make my mind up about.
WATCH THIS SHOW:
America’s Hardest Prisons is super entertaining, compelling viewing, but it is also sad a lot of the time. Sometimes I felt depressed after watching it, especially when they feature inmates living on death row (the death penalty is the ultimate pits).
But do watch it if you are interested in drugs, sex and violence in prisons, prison gangs, prison hierarchies, what it is like to be the new guy in prison and what it is like to leave and try to start life again on the outside (spoiler alert – really fucking hard).