With Britain’s prison population the largest in Europe and with youth knife crime up 64% in the past five years, Channel 4 today announces they are sending eight British teen tearaways, some of whom are in trouble with the law, to one of the toughest jails in America in a bid to divert them from a life of crime.
Banged Up (3 x 60’ w/t) will see eight teens aged between 15 and 17 spend a week living and working in a tough Florida jail in a supersized version of an existing American programme called Behaviour Attitude Modification. It’s a radical scheme designed to keep young tearaways on the straight and narrow and encourage them to make the life choices that will keep them out of prison. This is the first-time British teens have taken part in such a scheme.
The six male and two female teens will experience the full harsh reality of life behind bars at Florida’s Brevard County Jail under the watchful eye of Sheriff Wayne Ivey, a man with robust views on law and order. His motto - “we need to get to these kids before they get to us.”
Home to around 1600 inmates, Brevard County consists of male, female and juvenile wings and houses a mixture of inmates on charged with crimes ranging from theft and prostitution to multiple murder.
In this unique social experiment, the British teens, some of whom have been in trouble with the police, all from different backgrounds, will be shackled, handcuffed and ‘booked in’ at the jail like regular inmates. Fingerprinted, stripped of their belongings and dressed in prison uniforms, the teens will live as prisoners throughout their stay. During their incarceration, they’ll be put to work in the jail’s kitchen and laundry alongside regular inmates and be part of a chain gang working on the roads. They’ll also have to get used to prison food and the rigid daily routine, which includes military style physical drills, and just one phone call home.
As a final shock to the system, they will hear cautionary tales from alleged murderers and former gang-members before taking a trip to the police morgue where they’ll witness real life murder victims.
Banged Up (3 x 60’ w/t) is a BriteSpark Films production (part of Argonon Group) and was commissioned by Ian Dunkley, Channel 4 Commissioning Editor for Factual Entertainment. The Executive Producers are Nick Godwin and Bill Erfuth. The Series Director is Matt Rudge.
Ian Dunkley, Commissioning Editor, Factual Entertainment at Channel 4 said, “The series poses an intriguing question - at a time when knife crime and youth offending in the UK is on the rise, could exposing wayward teens to the harsh reality of prison life act as a deterrent to them spending a life behind bars?”
Nick Godwin, Executive Producer at Britespark Films added, “It’s never been more important to look at new ways of keeping at risk youngsters out of prison and out of the cemetery – we’re hoping this will be a compelling and thought-provoking addition to the debate.”