Press Centre

Life Inside Jail: Hell On Earth

  • Episode: 

    1 of 2

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Tue 28 Jun 2016
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 26 2016 : Sat 25 Jun - Fri 01 Jul
  • Channel: 

  • Status: 

The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing I nto the public domain until Tuesday 21 June
Observational documentary series filmed over six months in one of New York’s toughest jails.
Located 150 miles north of Manhattan, Albany County Jail sees petty thieves mix with hardened gangsters, drug addicts and multiple murderers while they wait for their cases to go to court. Conditions are seriously tough – even though, in the eyes of the law, the inmates are presumed innocent until proven guilty. 
Headed up by Sheriff Craig Apple and his team of 240 dedicated Correctional Officers, the jail accommodates over a thousand men and women across 22 different housing units. While the average stay in Albany is just 42 days – those accused of the most serious crimes can expect to be there for a year or more.
In Albany, you are more than twice as likely to be a victim of violent crime compared to New York City. The Hudson River, running through the city marks out rival gang territory, and law enforcement face ongoing battles against the ruthless gang members from the opposing Bloods and Crips taking shots at each other to secure their drug trade. 
America is currently suffering a heroin epidemic. From addicts stealing or prostituting themselves to fund their habit to the gun-toting gang-bangers plaguing the city’s streets with shootings, murder and mayhem – many of those in custody at Albany are there for drug related crimes.
Once inside jail, inmates are categorized according to their level of risk. Level One inmates are non-violent and may be in for petty crimes: Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), drug possession, failure to pay a fine… one inmate was facing a week behind bars for stealing a frozen chicken, another for the theft of a shopping trolley. 
Level 4 inmates are held on the maximum-security tier. Here, the 8ft by 7ft barred cells offer no privacy – and few home comforts. This part of the jail is an intimidating place to call home - with gang rivalries often spilling over from the streets, only the toughest will survive. 
Those who find it impossible to “play by the rules” find themselves in the jail’s ‘Special Housing Unit’ or SHU. Feared by many inmates, the SHU is a jail within the jail. Here, inmates live in segregation, and under very strict rules. They spend over 23 hours a day locked in their cell, and are only let out for recreation wearing handcuffs and shackles to stretch out in a small indoor cage. 
With full access to the jail, officers and inmates, this major new ITV series takes the viewer to the extremes of humanity. We witness how the loss of liberty cuts deep with family and friends; we get under the skin of those battling their addictions; and meet those facing up to American justice for the most heinous of crimes.
In episode 1, Correctional Officers at Albany jail are challenged by the arrival of seven senior gangsters transferred from New York’s most notorious prison, Rikers Island. Meanwhile, a 23-year-old ‘straight A-student’, Michael Chmielewski, is arrested for the murder of a local hairdresser following a break-in that went wrong; and heroin addict, and mother of four,  Tammy Lord tries to go clean. 
Beyond the jail, Voltage TV has also secured unprecedented access to the city’s County Court. Following inmates from arrest, through incarceration and to trial, this series go behind the scenes and deep into the heart of the American justice system. Filming 180 hours of material over a six month period, Life Inside Jail was series produced, filmed and directed by Lee Phillips, the double BAFTA winning filmmaker behind the ITV ratings smash ‘Her Majesty’s Prison: Aylesbury.’