DVD review: America’s Hardest Prisons – Gang Central [M15]

The Documentary Series
One if my favourites overall TV shows is OZ, it takes place in a prison, and it aimed to give a different perspective of that life and what leads those to end up there. Now I don’t consider myself an expert on the subject at all, and what I thought I knew about prison was basically thrown out of the window after I watched this documentary series American’s Hardest Prisons.

Now I’d say something like OZ doesn’t sugar coat prison or the life there, it turned the stereotypes around. But nothing can quite compare to actually seeing the real deal, in some of the harshest environments.

The show doesn’t really try and give an answer as to what might lead a person to end up there, but it shows you the reality of what its like. These episodes focus on the gangs; there are many gangs around no matter where you go. But when you place different gangs together in one place, chances are those gangs are going to be rivals. You can see the difficulty placed with these prisons; it is a pressure cooker ready to explode.

The show brings to light those gangs, the men in those gangs, the ones who try to break away, and how dangerous it really is within those walls. The correctional officers have a huge task in front of them, but everyone who works there needs to be vigilant about everything.

Where do you house new prisoners, are they going to be dangerous, or a target? It seems to me that for so many prisoners it is a hellhole, yet others use that to their advantage. Shows bring to light the real problems that prisons face, yet there aren’t any easy solutions.

After watching these episodes, prison in any shape or form is not a place I’d want to end up. Is that its aim? In a way I think it is, but it also serves as a front to really give the average joe a good and in-depth look at the life there, and as OZ did as a fictional piece, throw those stereotypes you might have out of the window.

This isn’t an easy watch, it is unfortunately violent and harsh, and no one is really safe. As a series this works, and as a documentary it works as well. Its honest, informative and it doesn’t hold much back. Each episode presented here is a really great watch, none are standouts but are all evenly matched. Perhaps the most difficult for me personally to watch was the San Antonio Gang War, disturbing and shocking would be putting it mildly.

The Australian DVD 
Audio/Video: The video is a 16:9 widescreen presentation. It looks really good, its clear and sharp and a cut above what you’d see on TV. Audio is presented with Dolby 2.0. Its clear and loud, very impactful.

The DVD set is presented with 2 discs.
Episodes include:
* Gang Central
* San Antonio Gang War
* Officers Under Siege
* Chaos In California


Thanks to Ben from MadMan for his support.

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