Prison is a world marked by power – those who have it and those who don’t. For three years, Hard Time has followed the lives of inmates across the country. And in every prison, the powerful can choose to prey on the weak and the weak do their best to stay out of harm’s way. It’s a high stakes game because until your sentence is done, there’s no escape.
Most predators make their intentions clear from the start and Reggie Williams is no exception to the rule. In 2008, he transferred to Hays State Prison in Trion, Georgia from a prison known as Reidsville, one of the toughest in the state. He’s got a 305-year sentence for murder and a hunger for power, but has no money coming in from the outside world to buy him influence. Williams knows he’ll have to use any means necessary to get what he wants and extortion of the weak is his path to comfort.
A young inmate makes easy prey in any prison, especially at a high security prison like Hays. Inmates call them “free-picks,” a designation that inmate Adrian English isn’t able to escape. English has been stabbed, robbed, and thrown into isolation. But nothing has been harder to endure than “it”: Adrian claims he has been raped twice while in prison. The experience haunts him, as does his crime – the presumed murder of his three-month old son. For an inmate like English, threats are everywhere.
Predators in the women’s world find power in relationships. At the Ohio Reformatory for Women (ORW) in 2010, there’s no bond more central than the pseudo-family complete with fathers and daughters, nieces and nephews. Hale Dorm is home to ORW’s close security offenders, inmate Dorie Terrell heads a pseudo-family, thirty members strong. While Uncle Do’ claims she’s offering guidance and food to her girls, the prison sees her role as a potentially dangerous abuse of power.
Just to the south, inmates like Donald Smith and Marlin “Juice” Reynolds are on two very different paths. Smith has been trying to take advantage of prison programs, turning his back on his former gang and old ways. His goal is to make it home early, with an education to boot. Reynolds, on the other hand, is happy to bring his street ways inside the prison walls. Here, he is a “jailhouse thief” who makes his way by brutally robbing other inmates and selling their possessions. For each inmate, these choices will bring very different consequences that send one to disciplinary segregation and the other to the infirmary.
Tune in to Hard Time: Predator and Prey tonight, August 14th at 9P et/pt.