Several innocent people agreed to be locked up in a real prison with the inmates for a new television programme.
The show’s called 60 Days In, and is designed to show what it is like to do time in the clink, from a perspective that hadn’t been seen before, the Daily Mail reports.
All eight of the participants backgrounds were kept from both corrections officers and real inmates at the Clark County Jail in Jeffersonville, Indiana. While they were in jail the regular prisoner population believed that the inmates were being filmed for a show about first-time inmates.
Despite the show being potentially dangerous, and even though one of the participants dropped out after they were punched by an inmate, the show’s producer and Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel said that the stunt was worth the risk.
Noel, who took office last year, said he was trying to clean up a 500-inmate jail where drugs seemed more available than they were on the streets.
He also considered bringing undercover police officers into the facility to provide intelligence on what was really going on, but could not get anyone to commit to a stay beyond two or three days.
The civilians all had their reasons for participating. One woman was a social worker who hoped to put an end to gang violence, and one was an ex-Marine who thought the experience would help him become a DEA agent. Another was a teacher who wanted to tell students where bad choices can take them, and a young man wanted to get a sense of what his jailed brother was going through.
All of the false inmates had a safe phrase, ‘I really miss the coffee’, which signalled to the producers that they wanted to be removed from a potentially dangerous situation – they could also put a towel on their heads as a warning sign.
The fake inmates helped the jail discover tonnes of information, such as how contraband weapons were made. They also uncovered a scam where long term inmates told the newer inmates that they would not be allowed to use the bathroom safely unless they paid some sort of bribe.
Sheriff Noel said: “We learned stuff that the most experienced corrections officer we had never knew was going on.”