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On the Inside for ’60 Days In’

It’s hard not to be intrigued by the A&E docuseries 60 Days In, both in terms its concept and technical infrastructure. The third season, which takes place in Atlanta’s Fulton County Jail, started airing on A&E on March 2. For anyone involved in video production, this show is a learning experience.

The series chronicles a program in which ordinary citizens volunteer to go undercover in a corrections facility. Throughout their 60-day “incarceration,” these inmates investigate specific issues or practices that have been identified by corrections facility administration as problematic. As well, they gain a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system.

The participants are on lockdown with their cellmates for more than 15 hours a day and face pressure to fit in or risk being the target of threats, violence or having their cover blown. (Neither the actual inmates nor the guards are aware of the participants’ undercover status, though they might discover it on their own.) They’re exposed to facility-wide drug problems, corruption, the gang population, and the threat of violence.

Explains Elaine Frontain Bryant, executive vice president and head of programming at A&E Network, the series “fully immerses our audience as they witness the dangerous world of incarceration firsthand.”

That said, the show is less exploitative and more investigative than it might sound. Each of the volunteer inmates has a specific reason for joining the undercover program, and their reports about their experiences assist the corrections facility’s administration and staff, providing a better account of conditions there.

The show’s producer, Lucky 8 TV, is responsible for monitoring activity within the jail, with more than 100 cameras installed to document the participants’ every move. All material is recorded via a security camera system and recordings are monitored around the clock from an in-house control room.

For all three seasons Bexel has supplied the audio/video equipment used on the show, collaborating with technical supervisor Alex Sierra Jr. on the design of the camera systems and control room.

Bexel strategic account manager Gordon Wason notes, “60 Days In is one of the most unique TV series in recent memory.”