Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

  • Rick Abshire
  • July 10, 2024 10:04am
  • 142

Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith shares his experience participating in A&E's "60 Days In," an eye-opening look into the challenges and realities of prison life.

Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith recently spoke with Fox News Digital about his decision to participate in A&E's hit show, "60 Days In." Initially hesitant, Smith eventually agreed, recognizing the potential for an in-depth audit of his department's operations.

Smith believes that the show provided an opportunity to expose areas for improvement within the Utah County Jail. "I hope, at the end of the day, that people don't expect us to be perfect, but they should expect us to be willing to accept where we need to improve and improve," he said.

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

One of the show's main objectives was to shed light on drug, contraband, and gang activity within the jail. Smith acknowledged that many inmates are incarcerated due to drug charges and expressed his hope that the show would help inmates stay off drugs during their time inside.

"We have programs in place to help them, but I don't think those programs stand a chance of seeping in if they are not clean," Smith said.

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

However, the show also revealed some unexpected issues within the jail that Smith and his team are now addressing. "There were things that came up that were surprising to me," Smith said. "Some of it came down to how some of my employees were treating inmates and some of those interactions."

"I struggled watching that on screen. That is not what I teach them and not what I expect," he added.

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

Despite the challenges, Smith emphasized that the show's intention was not to glorify prison life. "At the end of the day, it's jail," he said. "And I sometimes think that you hear a lot of complaining, but, at the end of the day, this is jail."

"And I want people to be treated properly in jail. But it is jail, and jail is a punishment because you've broken the law. It is not a country club or a place that you go to get away from the world," he continued.

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

Nina, one of the seven participants who went undercover in the Utah County Jail, shared her own perspective on the experience. As a bondsman with over a decade of experience, Nina felt prepared for the challenges of the reality series.

"The things that I thought were going to be hard turned out to not be the hardest," she said. "There are just some things that you cannot anticipate."

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

The most significant difficulty for Nina was the deprivation of essential amenities and the monotony of jail life. "You don't know how you're going to react until you're in there," she said. "Until you're treated like an inmate and being deprived like an inmate, you don't know what it is like."

Nina also reflected on the impact the show had on her understanding of the criminal justice system. "I believe in consequences. I believe that you reap what you sow. I've always believed in that," she said.

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

"It's easy to categorize them and wash your hands of them. The truth is that we are asking too much of a broken demographic," Nina added.

Following her experience on "60 Days In," Nina plans on providing inmates with reading materials and advocating for additional programming in her county's jails.

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV

The reality show has been instrumental in exposing the challenges and complexities of the Utah County Jail. Sheriff Smith and the participants hope that the insights gained from the show will lead to improvements within the department and a broader understanding of the realities of prison life.

Behind the Bars: Utah County Sheriff's Perspective on Jail Reality TV
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