Louis Theroux: Miami Mega Jail

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Louis Theroux: Miami Mega Jail

Series 1 - Episode 1

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Review

I needed a long walk and a lot of fresh air after this hard, unremitting documentary, so don’t expect to go to bed whistling a happy tune. Theroux visits Miami’s so-called “mega jail”, a pre-trial detention centre (so its inmates are still, technically, innocent), which is basically a noisy, hellish storage facility for men accused of serious wrongdoing.

Extortion, violence and general brutality among inmates are seen as routine and, by and large, staff leave them to get on with it (“Aint no telling what’s gonna happen once we close that door,” says one warder). When Theroux questions a prison boss about the lack of control he is asked: “Do you by chance have $600 million in your back pocket? That’s what it will take to build a state-of-the-art facility. We have to make do with what we have.”

Both staff and inmates are commendably open with Theroux, who is allowed to wander the shabby corridors to talk to inmates (“Louis! What’s up, bro?”) in a building where each floor has its own set of rules.

Summary

Part one of two. The contemplative reporter examines life in Miami County Jail, where most of the inmates are awaiting trial. He begins by exploring the large cage-like dwellings on the fifth and sixth floors, which are home to many of the most volatile prisoners. The inmates' lives are governed by a gladiatorial code, leading to fights for food and status - a situation the guards say they are powerless to address.

Cast & Crew

Reporter Louis Theroux
Director Emma Cooper
Executive Producer Nick Mirsky
Series Producer Emma Cooper
Documentary