Life Inside Jail: Hell on Earth—Episode 1: Introduction (01:47)
The U.S. is home to one fourth of the world's prisoners. The maximum security prison in Albany, New York houses 1,000 inmates. This segment orients viewers to the jail.
Albany County Jail (03:13)
Albany receives 20 new inmates every day and booking processes 7,000 people a year. The severity of crime dictates where in the facility the inmate will live. The jail has a gang intelligence unit to cope with gang members.
Special Housing Unit (04:00)
Inmates considered too dangerous to house with others live in segregation; "the shoe" houses seven senior gang members from Rikers Island. Inmate Michael Turner says his victims deserve whatever he did to them. Sgt. Mark Valvo recalls Turner's behavior upon arrival at the jail.
Murder Suspects (03:22)
Sean Moreland and Michael Chmielewski are taken into custody after a robbery that ended in the murder of Jacquelyn Porreca; they are placed in isolation. Over 168,000 murders live in U.S. jails; 7,000 are in New York.
Officer Training (02:11)
Valvo discusses the need for officers to expect the worst. Officers learn how to defend themselves; many have tasers. All officers experience a taser charge.
Inmate Behavior (03:29)
Rikers Island gang members throw feces out of their cells and rant about being locked up. Well behaved inmates have jobs inside the facility. On the female tier, inmate Tammy Lord enjoys working for $8.75 a week; she is incarcerated for heroin.
New York Drug Epidemic (02:15)
Mail is the main way inmates communicate with their families; Lord receives a letter from her daughter. Approximately 60% of inmates test positive for illicit drugs upon arrest. Ethan, arrested on drug charges, has been to Albany three times; addicts are placed in a holding cell until they detox.
Protective Custody, Male Tier (02:15)
Chmielewski, arrested for murder, is a suicide risk. He describes acknowledging what he did.
Threats against Corrections Officers (02:22)
The jail received a letter indicating that the Rikers Island inmates are planning an attack on officers. The jail goes on lock down and officers discover 14 prison-made weapons.
Violent Inmates (02:42)
Gang members refuse to give back meal trays and the Emergency Response Team enters their cells. Turner states that he would have killed an officer if he had a weapon. The gang members are searched, moved to clean cells, and receive more time in segregation.
Inmate Visits (04:04)
Valvo reflects on his career choice. Inmates receive two one-hour weekly visits from family and friends; female inmates find creative ways to make and apply "make-up." Lord's daughters arrive for a visit; her youngest is not allowed inside.
Booking Department (02:44)
The average stay at Albany is 42 days. Every inmate undergoes a search; many try to hide items in their body cavities.
Inmates and Heroin (03:46)
Albany transports approximately 30 inmates to court every day; Chmielewski rejects a plea deal. Albany staff and Chmielewski reflect on Chmielewski's life choices. Lord's daughter is in jail for heroin possession.
Inmates and Family (05:03)
Lord's daughter is paroled; she left a letter for her mother. Chmielewski wants his lawyer to try to negotiate a reduced charge; he says he is a killer, not a murderer. Chmielewski's estranged wife supports him.
Repeat Offender (01:28)
Turner will return to Rikers Island to prepare for his trial. He reflects on the gang lifestyle.
Credits: Life Inside Jail: Hell on Earth—Episode 1 (00:39)
Credits: Life Inside Jail: Hell on Earth—Episode 1
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