Recently, President Obama made a historic visit the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma in an effort to highlight problems with how we deal with crime in our country. It is the first time that a sitting president has visited an American prison.
And in the same vein, a new show on A&E called 60 Days In takes seven regular citizens into custody for a two-month period. It may sound like a nightmare waiting to happen, but it’s an effort on the part of Sheriff Jamey Noel of Clark County, Indiana, to understand the deeper problems faced by the criminal justice system today.
To participate in the experiment, 7 volunteers, who have committed no crimes, spend two months in Clark County Jail. Both fellow inmates and guards believe them to be convicted criminals.
The show is produced by Sheriff Jamey Noel, who says that citizen volunteers provide him with the most unbiased insight into how the prison system can be improved.
During their stay, volunteers witnessed multiple instances of extreme violence and sexual harassment.
They also exposed a strange hierarchy among inmates. Newcomers were forced to give food to more seasoned inmates in order to receive bathroom privileges. The guards didn’t even know that this was going on.
Due to the show’s findings, several reforms have already been put into place, including a narcotics anonymous program. One prisoner was even arrested for bringing drugs into the facility.
To see the full study, watch the video below:
The show seems to support President Obama’s claim that “our criminal system isn’t as smart as it could be.” Indeed, there are currently 2.2 million people incarcerated in the U.S., which is more than the entire population of New Mexico. Most of those incarcerated are in jail in for nonviolent crimes. One in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34 are behind bars, which points to injustice.
You can catch up on 60 Days In every Thursday at 10/9c on A&E. Head over to their website to watch full episodes online.