NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Thursday 1 April, 8.30pm

Forget Midwestern hospitality at the St Louis County Jail. Built in 1998 and rededicated in 2004, this downtown facility processes over 30,000 arrestees each year. From drunk drivers and drug dealers to petty thieves and killers, they all pass through this municipal high-rise on their way to facing a judge. For the officers on the ground, that means seeing approximately 600 people each week – many of whom are inebriated and angry when they first arrive. Jail is the last place they want to be and they are not shy about sharing that information. Some of them even try to confront the officers. That’s a mistake they’ll soon regret. Still, these angry and often difficult prisoners must be booked, interviewed, strip-searched and processed. Some are middle class, some are poor, some are thugs and some appear to be crazy. Yet they’re all held together in an open central booking area until they are assigned a cell. It’s highly dangerous for officers, especially without the help of shackles and bars. All hope to go

free soon but, for many, that’s just an illusion. Find out how tough it is to do time in America’s heartland as these prisoners make their way through County Jail without getting hurt or hurting anybody else – inmate or officer.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Thursday 26 February, 8.30pm

Prison is tough, but some say getting out is even tougher. Most inmates leave prison with less than US$200 in hand and must find a job and a bed before the money runs out. Crime, gangs and drugs tempt ex-cons struggling to make good and all it takes is one bad decision for them to land right back behind bars. After serving 14 years, 37-year-old Donovon Green has just been released onto the mean streets of LA County. Green entered the penal system an armed robber and violent felon, but he believes he’s undergone a transformation behind bars and is eager to find a paying job and, most importantly, prove himself to his 16-year-old daughter Eva. But Green has never been on the Internet or even used a mobile phone. With carjacking and armed robbery on his life’s resume, who would hire him? Another crime would mean a third strike, landing Green back in the slammer. He has to learn be a model citizen… and fast.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Thursday 19 February, 8.30pm

Chicago, Illinois: Built in 1925, and aging badly, Stateville Correctional is a dangerous place filled with dangerous men, nearly all serving 20 years minimum. Half are in for murder and another quarter are serving time for violent crimes. For many, the thing that makes life bearable are family, loved ones, girl friends and friends in general but it’s a struggle. Simkatyah Winfield is a drug dealer doing 60 years for murder but he’s also a devoted dad. Yet how can he really act as a good parent behind bars, especially now that his 17-year-old daughter is pregnant? Some inmates look beyond the gates of the prison to sustain them. Other inmates are just trying to be themselves behind bars, without getting punished for it. Guiding us through Stateville is veteran of 16 years, Sgt. Baldwin who expresses the importance of the outside world to inmates and how it keeps them sane. It turns out family, romance and friendship are the things that make life go round, even among the worst of the worst.