Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Reality (TV) of Jail

OK, I just saw the first episode of the new reality TV show, Jail, on WUTB last night. I understand this is a remake of the cable show Inside American Jail from Court TV but I've never seen that since I don't have cable. Anyway, this really is a show people should see. It was created by the same people who made Cops, and it's based on the same premise. The show follows sheriffs around as they process new arrestees at various large urban jails.

Last night's episode featured lots of people under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. It showed the booking process, the intake medical screening process and the suicide prevention measures. It gave a good glimpse of the people who come to jail, why they come there and the condition they're in on arrival. It was easy to pick out the detainees with altered mental states but not nearly so easy to tell whether that change was from psychiatric problems or substance abuse. One pretrial detainee highlighted the medical problems jails deal with---he had a single tooth hanging from his upper jaw. When the officer doing medical screening asked him if he had dental problems, he burst out laughing.

The episode I saw featured three different large urban jails. All the jails were more spacious, cleaner and quieter than the ones I've been in. Maybe it was just a good time of night, but I was surprised to see their booking cells only held one or two people at a time. There was no obvious blatant profanity or shouting, but then again with the FCC fines being what they are I'm sure the networks would screen this out. I thought the show did a good job of illustrating the plight of the average new arrestee. As one first-time offender put it, "My bond is only $400 and a lot of people here have it a lot higher, but when you've got nothing it might as well be a million."

Some folks may feel a bit of guilty voyeurism watching this show, but let this pass: This show should be mandatory viewing for all people who want 'tough on crime' policies.


Dinah said...

I thought we were watching 24 now.

ClinkShrink said...

Never seen it. Actually I'm waiting for the new episodes of Prison Break.

Sarebear said...

I'll watch it (when dd is at school or in bed) and let you know what I think.

I appreciate your mention of the voyeurism issue; that is something that gets to me sometimes, although educational value can outweigh.

Nonsequitur: I wonder if yesterday's traumatic experience caused me to sleep 17 hours today (eep!)

ania said...

Good afternoon.

I did see an episode.

The most shocking situation to me was when a middle-aged woman was swept up with a number of....well....prostitutes, because of the way that she was dressed.

She was not a prostitute.

How awfully embarassing.

Sarebear said...

Ania, did they release her, post haste? There's some lawsuit material, right there.

I don't dress that way, but I certainly don't think you should be arrested for it, if your clothing doesn't violate local obscenity laws (ie, your bits are covered, issues of accidental exposure whilst breast-feeding aside).

Once, in the mid-90's before I was married, I was made to pull over and get out and spread-eagle on the back of my car, with patdown (ugh!) (after they had backup), at about 2 to 2:30 am a bit east of downtown SLC. NOT fun, and they didn't arrest me. I was terrified though. Innocent, too. My car just happened to be similar to one stolen earlier, at least in color anyway. Besides my behavior looking suspicious to them (not that I was out doing or trying to do anything illegal.)

FooFoo5 said...

While I have not seen the show, it could only be "realistic" filmed in "Odorama" (with all due credit to John Waters of Baltimore's Polyester ). If you can't smell it, you ain't been there, baby.

Fat Doctor said...

I'm sorry, Clink, but I stopped reading after "I don't have cable." I'm just not sure I can like you anymore. :)

ClinkShrink said...

Foo: too true, must have smell and sound to be real. But then no one would believe it.

FD: I can live without TV as long as I have high speed access to the blog.

ania said...

Dear Sarah,

I don't know. I think I was so irritated by that situation that I didn't finish watching.

I appreciate the effort for realism, but I am disturbed by the fact that people are shown at a very vulnerable time. And they are not yet proven guilty.

Of course, there's the standard 'All individuals are innocent until proven guilty....' text at the end, but really - I just think it's done a bit backwards.

Why couldn't they hold the film captured until an individuals guilt has been established? They'd have plenty of subject matter, just delayed a few weeks or months until the trial and sentencing was complete.

Shows like that bother me. I know that there are many of them. I understand that these people are likely not upstanding citizens, but I just think, "What if I was 'In A Wrong Place At A Wrong Time'." Even if cleared, there would still be that episode playing in perpetuity.

I just don't believe that entertainment should work that way.

Well, I'm done, I suppose.

Take care....

Sarebear said...

ania, I have some of the same concerns, but at the same time, the educational factor of raising awareness of desperate issues, of issues DESPERATELY needing the light of day shone(?) upon them . . . is a mitigating factor. It doesn't quell all the factors you bring up, in me, but it is also a factor . . .

There issues being raised about slum tourism in South Africa . . . because of various documentaries and televised trips to such places, especially those with celebrities, high profile people, etc. going, there is an increase in the number of people going to "see" what it's like when they happen to be in the area on vacation . . . . one Tour operator who takes tours there, says taking the people there raises awareness, and that money from the tour fees goes to help some women there, but it turns out the women are friends, associations of one of the tour producers, or something (they are residents of that slum area, though; the word slum makes me cringe, like I'm judging them, but it'll have to do, for now).

Then again, there's some residents there who have found ways to take advantage of these things, like one woman who dresses up in traditional ceremonial garb for her tribal/genetic/cultural heritage, and sells dried fish at the side of the road where the tour passes by, and when people come up to her, asking to take her picture, she has one fee for letting them take a picture, and a smaller price for just the dried fish . . . .