TV vs. Reality: What’s prison really like?

Even if you’ve never spent a second behind bars, you likely have an image in your mind. It’s an image built on a Hollywood sound stage and featured widely in TV shows and movies. Some TV shows and movies portray prison as gritty and violent, while others have more of a “country club” feel. So what’s the real story? In short, it depends where you are. In the United States, the prison classification system ranges from Supermax prisons (which house those who are considered a threat to national security), to minimum security prisons (which are often work-oriented and typically house those convicted of less serious offenses). The common theme: restrictions on personal freedom and privacy. Prison Cell Prisoners are bound by the rules and regulations of those charged with operating the prison. There’s no craft services table full of snacks. There’s no wardrobe trailer. There’s no hair and make-up team. And, perhaps most importantly, there’s no director around to yell, “Cut!” Photo via Tim Pearce