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USA: Life in a High Security Prison

In the United States, there are more than 2 million people behind bars. That's more than anywhere else in the world. The Anamosa State Penitentiary, granted us exceptional, round-the-clock access. Here, three quarters of the prisoners have been convicted of violent crimes and serve an average of 27 years. How is the prison managed?
English [CC]
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Pallas Télévision
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4.7 out of 5 stars

16 global ratings

  1. 70% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 30% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 0% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 0% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 0% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

MichelleReviewed in the United Kingdom on 04 November 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Really interesting
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This is actually a really interesting documentary, giving a close up look at the inner workings of Anamosa State Penetentiary in Iowa, in which both staff and prisoners are interviewed/filmed over the space of a month. With this being a maximum security prison, I think it's safe to say some of the crimes these men have committed can be quite shocking to hear about - although thankfully the details are only mentioned briefly. I found the history of the prison interesting - in particular that nobody has ever managed to escape from Anamosa and seeing the video footage of a foiled Prison Break-style escape (a tunnel under the bed in one of the cells) in the 90's was fascinating. I also learned that every single car license plate for the state of Iowa is made in the prison. What I did find strange is that there was no mention of one of America's most infamous serial killers, John Wayne Gacy (the 'killer clown', who murdered 33 men and boys) who was incarcerated in 1968 at Anamosa for 18 months of what should have been a 10 year sentence and apparently made his mark on the prison by helping to secure a wage increase for the inmates. It would also have been good to hear about the prison's education system, but this is still definitely worth a watch.
3 people found this helpful
NadineReviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 October 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Powerful Prison Documentary
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Saw this by accident as I was looking for something else. This prison documentary is very interesting. As depressing as these prisoners lives are, they're there because of the choices that they made, the men talking to the camera crew have qualities that could have them living normal lives on the outside - it is just a shame that some are in prison for life, but that is the consequence for their poor decisions, maybe many of them would take back their bad choices that landed them in prison, but it is too late for some of them.
Hour long one-off prison documentaries like this are better than a Prison Series, Prison Series are just too much.
USA: Life in a High Security Prison is a very well-made documentary.
One person found this helpful
M.IReviewed in the United Kingdom on 08 July 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
Fascinating and non-judgemental.
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This documentary portrays what life is like in a max-security prison for both inmates and staff. It also does it without the hyperbole and sensation that often accompanies these type of things. The humans involved, prisoners or employees, are just given time to talk. What is most shocking, in a way, is how normal the inmates seem, despite the horrific things they have done to get themselves incarcerated. Ceelo, for example, seems like a nice guy, who you could imagine going for a beer with. An interesting exploration of the banality of human evil, for sure.
Mr GReviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 July 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Well worth a watch, quite well directed and lively.
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Interesting, frank and honest insight into life behind bars for lifers. No fast moving clips, violence or hyped stories. Just plain old, everyday life as a convict seen through their eyes. Nice pace, never boring and sometimes touching. The human element really comes out. A sobering message for anyone out there considering committing crime.
2 people found this helpful
ScozZReviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 June 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
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I didn't expect much with this in the first minutes. Maybe something to do with the Casey Kasem esque VO. Stick with it though and you'll find a concise, even handed and engaging doc, which manages to tell lots of little interesting stories within it's relatively short 57 minutes. More accomplished than it first appears.
One person found this helpful
Rupert GarciaReviewed in the United Kingdom on 01 October 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Good Documentary
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A brief look behind the walls of Iowa State Penitentiary, with interesting glimpses of some aspects of the regime. Nicely paced without the common jarring commentary and shock tactics. Too bad it wasn't made into a series as it was very good.
2 people found this helpful
Jade BReviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 December 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Really interesting documentary on prisons
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Really enjoyed this documentary. The interviews within it and the way they show you around and about the prison and prisoners got you really interested
One person found this helpful
ShaniceReviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 December 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
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Interesting to see the different perspectives of the prisoners
One person found this helpful
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