If you were asked to spend two months in jail, you probably would not do it.
But how else would the general public understand why the United States recidivism rate is so high? One Bureau of Justice Statistics study of released prisoners from 30 states showed 68 percent were back behind bars within three years.
A new docuseries premiering Thursday on A&E called “60 Days In” attempts to answer this question. The series follows seven ordinary people who have never been charged with a crime or done time as they willingly spend 60 days in jail. The impetus for this project is to understand what exactly is going on in lock-up and to have impartial people provide firsthand information so that effective reform can happen.
The project takes place in Clark County Jail in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The jail holds approximately 500 prisoners, including "inmates charged with drug dealing to first time offenders to capital murder," the show's description says.
"These brave volunteers helped us identify critical issues within our system that undercover officers would not have been able to find," says Sheriff Jamey Noel of Clark County.
Here's a first look at part one of the premiere:
Over the course of 12 episodes, the goal of the series is for viewers to better understand America’s problematic jail system by looking at it from the inside.
From an outsider's perspective, we just know what we read. We know that the United States spends more money on prisoners than it does on education. We know that there has been a push for drug sentencing reform and the advent of rehabilitation programs, but these fixes may not go far enough, particularly in the current volatile political climate.
For instance, GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump's stance on crime and our prison population can be summed up here:
"The next time you hear someone saying there are too many people in prison, ask them how many thugs they’re willing to relocate to their neighborhood. The answer: None."
"60 Days In" is certainly illuminating, and you can learn more about it here. The show airs on A&E on Thursdays, beginning March 10, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
If you're looking to learn more about how to help with prison reform, check out Insight-Out.