In late May 2011 BBC Two broadcast "Louis Theroux: Miami Mega Jail," an eye-opening two-part TV documentary about several jails operated by the Miami County jail system.  --   The documentary offers a glimpse of the reality of life for detainees in a  number of facilities.  --  Louis Theroux, the son of writer Paul Theroux, is able to conduct extended interviews with people whose voices are rarely heard in the United States.  --  Various inmates describe a way of life largely determined, even for those who have been convicted of nothing, by inmates who live together in large groups and enforce their own social order that is governed by what they call "the code," not by the rules enforced by authorities.  --  They also talk about how they feel about what their situation.[1]  --  Authorities accept their inability to control what is happening in the institutions they supposedly run.  --  Many of the detainees have been held for years awaiting trial.  --  The first segment is linked to subsequent ones.  --  COMMENT:  Many inmates discuss their lives.  --  It is useful to consider this documentary alongside Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New Press, 2010).  --  Alexander argues that "for reasons largely unrelated to actual crime trends, the American penal system has emerged as a system of social control unparalleled in world history" (p. 8).  --  The American criminal justice system can be thought of as "a gateway into a much larger system of racial stigmatization and permanent marginalization. . . . Once released, former prisoners enter a hidden underworld of legalized discrimination and permanent social exclusion" (pp. 12-13, emphasis in original)....



May 22 & 29, 2011