Sign Zone: Louis Theroux: Behind Bars

February 12, 2008 by  
Filed under News

Louis TherouxThe Sign Zone is a repeat showing of favourite programmes but with sign language for those people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Sign language was provided for Louis Theroux’s visit to San Quentin prison in California.

It was a fascinating programme where Louis asked difficult questions of inmates and prison wardens alike. One of the most scary moments was when Louis went into a large yard of prisoners who were gathered together in groups. One set of people were having a bible reading and were quite religious, whilst others were chatting in groups. There was obvious segregation in both yards that Louis went to as prisoners preferred not to be near anyone who was not of the same ethnic origin as themselves. There was a distinct amount of racism between inmates.

At one point, all of the prisoners were told to sit down in the yard as a gunshot was fired and something had occurred at the prison itself. It was a particularly scary and eerie moment as you realised that the prisoners could get nasty.

Louis met a transgender woman (formerly a man) who shared her cell with her male partner. She was due to be released soon and her partner said that they would meet again. This was not the only relationship in the prison as a gay Jewish man was with a married man.

Louis also learned of trades made between prisoners as a young man was advised by a warden just advised to serve his time (some of the longer serving prisoners traded time with younger members (who would then do longer sentences). Louis Theroux: Behind Bars was an interesting insight into San Quentin prison.

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