Thurs­day Louis Th­er­oux: Mi­ami Mega Jail 10pm, BBC Four

Sunday Herald Life - - TELEVISION & RADIO -

AREPEAT for this harsh, two-part doc­u­men­tary from 2011. An­other in Th­er­oux’s loose se­ries of prison films, we fol­low him into Mi­ami County Jail, a de­ten­tion centre where most of the in­mates are still actually await­ing trial. Many prisoners here, then, are still the­o­ret­i­cally in­no­cent, yet they are held in an unimag­in­ably volatile en­vi­ron­ment that of­ten breaks down into out­right bru­tal­ity. As Th­er­oux wan­ders the noisy, dingy cor­ri­dors, in­mates and jail­ers alike are re­mark­ably frank. Ex­tor­tion is com­mon­place and, on the fifth and sixth floors, where the most dan­ger­ous con­victs dwell in cage-like cells and the over­stretched guards leave them to their own de­vices, life is gov­erned by a glad­i­a­to­rial code, with fights be­tween prisoners for sta­tus and even food. The ve­neer of con­trol is very thin in­deed. As Th­er­oux uses his quizzi­cal, sheep’s cloth­ing tac­tics to peer into dark cor­ners, it’s eye open­ing stuff, but not exactly feel­good.

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