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Inside the World's Toughest Prisons

Inside the World's Toughest Prisons

  • Premiered: 
    April 20, 2016
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: Ch5
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Crime
  • Tags: prison

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    Season 1
    Season 2
    Season 3
    Season 4

Plot Synopsis

A investigative journalist -- Raphael Rowe (Seasons 2 & 3) and Paul Connolly (Season 1) -- becomes a voluntary inmate in the world's most volatile prisons, living among the convicts and working with overmatched guards where intimidation and brutality rule. In Season 1, Paul Connolly journeys inside deplorable prisons in Poland, Mexico, Honduras and the Philippines to experience their barbaric conditions firsthand.

On Friday, July 6, 2018 at 3:01am ET/12:01am PT, Netflix released the four-episode second season of INSIDE THE WORLD'S TOUGHEST PRISONS. In Season 2, Raphael Rowe, who spent 12 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit, investigates some of the world's toughest prisons from the inside. The season opens with Raphael spending a few days -- both as a guard and a prisoner -- inside Brazil's gang-filled Porto Velho Penitentiary. Then, he moves to Ukraine's Zhytomyr Prison, which is operated with a skeleton crew that allows prisoners to freely roam the grounds -- often with potentially dangerous weapons. Then, Raphael visits the short-staffed Bomana Prison in Papua New Guinea, where near-constant food shortages keep the facility on the brink of chaos. Raphael's prison tour ends in Belize Central Prison, where inmates are told that rehabilitation comes through God.

The four-episode third season of INSIDE THE WORLD'S TOUGHEST PRISONS premiered on Friday, December 14, 2018 at 3:01am ET/12:01am PT on Netflix. In Season 3 investigative journalist Raphael Rowe, who was once wrongfully convicted of murder, visits prisons in Colombia, Costa Rica, Romania and Norway. The season opens with Raphael in Costa Rica, where he concedes that country's La Reforma Prison is certainly among the most intimidating. Then, while spending a week inside Bogota, Colobmia's fortress-like prison, Raphael must negotiate the oppressive atmosphere and deal with an ominous threat. In the penultimate episode, Raphael spends a week at a maximum security prison in Craiova, Romania, where the inmates include rapists, murderers and contract killers. Finally, many prisons aim to punish and demean inmates. Norway's Halden Prison -- as Raphael Rowe is about to see for himself -- does things differently.
Season 4 of INSIDE THE WORLD'S TOUGHEST PRISONS debuted on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 3:01am ET/12:01am PT, as Netflix released the entire four-episode new season. Journalist Raphael Rowe lives like an inmate while investigating dangerous prisons in Paraguay, Germany, Mauritius and Lesotho. In the season opener, "Paraguay: The Most Dangerous Prison on Earth," Rowe spends a week behind bars at Tacumbu prison in Paraguay, where inmates scrounge in the trash in order to pay their own way. Then, Rowe travels to Schwalmstadt, a 12th-century fortress surrounded by a moat, which houses some of Germany's worst offenders, many of whom attend intense therapy sessions. Next Rowe visits the tropical island of Mauritius, which is is home to Melrose maximum security prison, where even the smallest infraction is met with extreme punishment. In the season finale, "Lesotho: Confronting Sexual Violence," an unnerved Rowe contends with aggressive cellmates at Maseru prison, where a high number of inmates are behind bars for rape.