Louis Theroux’s TV documentaries have taken quite a serious turn of late, with last night’s Miami Mega Jail following such thought-provoking fare as The Ultra Zionists, America’s Medicated Kids and A Place for Paedophiles. It would seem that the bespectacled journalist’s days of trekking around the backwoods of America sporting a wry smile on the trail of amiable UFO nuts and wrestle-maniacs are well and truly over.
Indeed, yesterday’s programme was especially grim. Taking us inside one of the biggest jails in America, where the inmates live 23 men to a single cell and the overwhelmed staff largely leave those on remand to their own devices, the entire programme painted a horrific picture of squalor and debasement.
One of its most affecting moments came early on when Louis met an ashen young college graduate who’d been transferred to the jail and was awaiting incarceration. Obviously scared, this unlikely jailbird could only sit passively as a nearby guard explained to Louis what lay in store for him: “Him, at his size, ain’t no telling what could happen when we close that door. Sometimes you can get raped…you can get stabbed…things of that nature do happen in jail.”
See the moment for yourself on BBC iPlayer