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Behind Bars: Rookie Year

Behind Bars: Rookie Year

Photo Credit:  Lucky 8 TV / AETV
  • Premiered: 
    August 6, 2015
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: A&E
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Reality
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Crime
  • Tags: prison

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Plot Synopsis

BEHIND BARS: ROOKIE YEAR is a one-hour reality series that follows novice correctional officers (COs) as they begin their careers inside the walls of the Penitentiary of New Mexico, which is one of the most dangerous prisons in America with 850 inmates, roughly 75% of whom are incarcerated for violent offenses. Corrections departments have one of the highest drop-out rates in the country, with nearly half of all rookies falling out before their one-year anniversary. The long hours, close proximity to unpredictable criminals, mind games and constant threat of bodily harm make it an intensely stressful career. These rookies come face-to-face with rapists, murderers, and gang members who take pleasure in preying on weakness. Every new recruit hoping to join the department goes through a rigorous training program designed to test their fortitude and give them the tools needed to survive one of the most dangerous working environments on the planet. But as each day passes, the physical and emotional demands often prove too much for some, and even the best training can't prepare a rookie for the unexpected. In the premiere episode, Zach enters his first day on the job and encounters a violent inmate; Ariel, one of only four women in cadet training tries to overcome her timid persona and prove herself as a capable CO; Carlos, who has been on the job for three months is taunted by prisoners for his naivety; and Tyler, 19, who has been on the job for four months and is one of the youngest rookie COs in New Mexico's prison system, finds contraband in the prison kitchen. Season 2 of BEHIND BARS: ROOKIE YEAR premiered on Thursday, August 25, 2016 at 10pm ET/PT on A&E. In the season 2 premiere the series expands its territory to Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility, a prison that has seen two murders in the last 18 months among its inmates, 85% of whom are involved in gangs within the compound. There, Lilly Rodriguez has wanted to be in law enforcement ever since she was a kid but is consistently underestimated for her size; she stands at five feet tall, 102 pounds and is required to wear a child-sized stab vest. At the Western New Mexico facility, CO Christian Sandoval recently gave up a rodeo scholarship for a steadier paycheck but questions his decision when he is tasked with overseeing level 3 inmates; the majority of whom have life sentences and nothing to lose. And at the Penitentiary of New Mexico featured in Season 1, COs Andrew Cordova, Cohen Mangin and the seemingly meek Ariel Montoya become more confident in their positions.
On Thursday, November 10, 2016 at 10pm ET/PT, A&E premiered the Season 2 finale of BEHIND BARS: ROOKIE YEAR. In the season ender, "The Takedown," the war against the SNM reaches its climax and the rookies help put the final nail in the gang's coffin. Purto takes part in a surprise raid on SNM leaders and Javier conducts his first extraction. Israel considers a job change in light of recent news, and Lilly finds her voice as a confident CO. Mangin and Cordova are no longer rookies and offer wisdom to a brand new class of cadets.


Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Lucky 8


  • Penitentiary of New Mexico - Santa Fe, New Mexico USA - Map It!