Insight special: Women in Prison

Insight abandons its usual format for a two-part special with host Jenny Brockie given rare access inside a maximum security women’s prison to speak one-on-one with inmates.

This was produced over a number of months, filmed at Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre in NSW, and airs from next week.

Incarceration rates are on the rise across the board in Australia, but the rate of increase is higher for women than it is for men. The number of women in prison in Australia has risen over 60% since 2005, and 11% between 2014 to 2015. Also on the rise is recidivism, with over 40% of women released from prison returning to the system.

Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre in NSW has allowed Insight to bring cameras inside its towering, barb-wire lined walls to find out why women get there, and what life is really like on the inside.

Four maximum security inmates speak openly with award-winning presenter Jenny Brockie about their crimes. Major drug importation, spine-chilling violence, and repeat offences of fraud and theft are spoken about with remarkable candour. Drug use, domestic violence and disadvantage are discussed alongside responsibility, rehabilitation and remorse.

The two-part special is a sometimes confronting and often moving picture of women in prison that no other television program in Australia has been able to provide before.

Brockie worked for months to gain exclusive access to the prison and the inmates, bringing her decades of journalistic experience as a trusted interviewer not only on Insight but also in work such as the Gold Walkley winning documentary Cop It Sweet about Sydney’s Redfern police, So Help Me God about Campbelltown local court, and Bad Behaviour – a series on criminal motivation.

The inmates show Jenny the cells, and what the food they call “slop in a box” looks like. They speak candidly about sexual relationships behind bars and discuss who they believe holds power in prison, including what prisoners have to do to stay safe when they’re locked in with inmates who range from thieves to murderers.

Insight also hears from the prison officers about what it’s like coming to work each day with criminals, some of whom are dangerous. They describe managing tempers and fights – and tell us how much we should believe what the prisoners tell us.

Trusted for delving deeper into the stories we don’t usually hear, Insight takes Australians inside this maximum security prison to speak directly to the inmates and ask: Why are you here? How did you get here? What do you have to do to survive in here? And what will you do when you get out?

8:30pm Tuesday November 8 and 15 on SBS.

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