A&E to step inside notorious New Mexico prison

Behind Bars: Rookie Year (pictured) follows novice correctional officers during their first year of work at notorious maximum-security men's prison, the Penitentiary of New Mexico.
July 17, 2015

A&E will begin airing a docuseries on rookie corrections officers next month.

Behind Bars: Rookie Year (pictured), which premieres on the U.S. cable network on August 6 at 10 p.m. EST/PST, will follow new recruits during their first year of work at the maximum-security men’s prison, the Penitentiary of New Mexico (PNM).

The officers must deal with convicted murderers, rapists and gang members while undergoing a rigorous training program at the New Mexico Corrections Academy. With 850 inmates – around 75% of whom are incarcerated for violent offenses – PNM is considered one of the most dangerous in America, according to the net.

In 1980, its cell block 4 was the scene of one of the most violent prison riots in American history. Over 36 hours, 33 inmates were killed and more than 200 – including 14 officers held hostage – were injured through beatings, rapes and stabbings.

“Corrections departments have one of the highest drop-out rates in the country, with nearly half of all rookies falling out before their one-year anniversary,” the network said in a statement. “The long hours, close proximity to unpredictable criminals, mind games and constant threat of bodily harm make it an intensely stressful career.”

Lucky 8 TV is producing Behind Bars: Rookie Year. Executive producers on the series are Gregory Henry, Kimberly Woodard and Jon Hirsch. Drew Tappon and Brad Holcman are exec producing for A&E.

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Meagan Kashty is an associate editor of realscreen, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Meagan is an award-winning business journalist. Prior to joining the realscreen team, Meagan was online editor of Canadian Grocer, named Magazine of the Year at the 2015 Canadian Business Media Awards. She can be reached at, and you can follow her on Twitter @MegKashty