Sunday, November 25, 2007

Prison Break Be Damned

Contributing to my addiction with prison documentaries is National Geographic Channel's Locked Up Abroad. It's exactly what is sounds like, but scarier. The show follows people who are in prison away from their home countries. I've watched two episodes so far. Both shows centered around young people, friends usually, who travel to South America and get caught up in drug trafficking.

Locked Up Abroad makes American prisons look like a Holiday Inn Express. The episode chronicling two Englishmen in a Venezuelan jail was eye-opening. First, they were in a jail. Their clothes and shoes were stolen in the first night and they were locked in a room with over 30 people. They survived in the jail for a year and a half before they were moved to a state facility. The prisoners there had knives, guns, and grenades. GRENADES! Within two days of arriving, the two watched a man get shot in the head by another inmate. No one did anything. Later, one of them hits rock bottom and starts playing Russian Roulette. It's looked like a madhouse. You can't make this stuff up.

I'm not normally scared by what's on TV, but Locked Up Abroad has made me afraid of the following things:

  • Drugs
  • South American prisons
  • Guns
  • Shanks
  • The promise of luxury vacations
It's a very interesting program, especially since the people are out of jail now and telling their own stories with the help of dramatizations and frightening stock footage. Definitely some of the most compelling hours of documentary television I've seen in a long time.