Season four of the documentary Inside The Worlds Toughest Prisons is as gritty and shocking as the three that came before it. With only four episodes in each season, it's an easy binge-watch even if it does leave you more than a little shocked and uncomfortable.
The show does exactly what it says on the tin and takes you inside some of the most deprived, horrifying prisons anywhere in the world. Hosted by Raphael Rowe, this British journalist spends a week locked up inside each prison to really show us what life is like behind these bars.
Rowe himself spent 12 years inside a British prison accused of murder. His conviction was overturned because he didn't actually commit the crime. He now travels the world to find out what others are facing in their respective countries. Inside The Worlds Toughest Prisons kicks off with a trip to Tacumbu Prison in Paraguay. With one guard to every 125 prisoners and over 4,000 inmates at the facility, this is one of the most dangerous prisons in the world.
The poorest inmates must scavenge through the waste for items they can sell. The rich inmates can pay for better quality lodgings and food. Some have even started their own businesses which is actively encouraged as there isn't enough funding to take care of them all. Life is a daily struggle of simply trying to stay alive. Drugs are rampant, stabbings are a daily occurrence and when night falls, the guards are all but gone and it's every man for himself.
From Paraguay to Germany and a very different prospect in terms of incarceration. Here, in Schwalmstadt, prisoners are being treated with intensive therapy in a bid to become normal citizens when they leave prison. The facilities are impeccable and there is a lot of mutual respect between guards and inmates. Does their approach provide better results than the others featured in the series? Rowe is there to find out.
The final two prisons covered in Inside The Worlds Toughest Prisons season 4 are Melrose Maximium Security in Mauritius and the Maseru Prison in Lesotho, Africa. Both are equally as shocking in their own way. In Mauritius, a new regime has meant that every small luxury has now been taken away from the inmates. Being caught with a cigarette is punishable with 16 days in solitary. The prisoners are almost robotic in their behaviour as the consequences for breaking any rules are so severe.
But it's Maseru Prison in Lesotho that will completely floor you. With a third of the prisoners carrying HIV and 45% in for rape crimes, this is hell on earth. To say it will leave you cold is an understatement. Even Raphael Rowe couldn't quite believe the extraordinary levels of deprivation that exist there. How he stayed there for a week is still a mystery as most of us wouldn't last an hour.
Overall Inside The Worlds Toughest Prisons is an extraordinary eye-opener. It is a highly recommended documentary simply to acknowledge the conditions that some people live in around the world.