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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Jillian Morgan is the Associate Editor at Realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.