DIANE SAWYER TAKES A RARE JOURNEY INSIDE THE SECRET WORLD OF
A WOMEN'S MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON FOR AN EYE-OPENING LOOK
AT THE COMPLEX, SOMETIMES VIOLENT, LIFE BEHIND THE PRISON WALLS
"Primetime Live" Airs Thursday, November 4 at 10:00 p.m., ET
In a special hour-long "Primetime Live" report, Diane Sawyer spends a day and a night inside a women's maximum security prison and gets a first-hand look at life behind the prison walls. This unique, self-contained world has a culture of its own-a culture of occasional violence, predatory sex and fear. Sawyer witnesses a disturbing level of mental illness in the prison, with women kept locked away in solitary confinement to keep them from hurting themselves and others. She meets some of the most violent, troubled and manipulative prisoners and hears stories that raise intriguing questions about women and violent crime. She is also introduced to the members of "CERT," the crisis management team responsible for keeping dangerous situations from escalating out of control. All the while, Sawyer shares her insights about life "on the inside" in a revealing video diary. "Primetime Live" airs THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 4 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.
The roughest female prisoners in Georgia all pass through the doors of Metro State Prison for Women in Atlanta. It is one of the few prisons still using boot camp-style tactics in an effort to keep prisoners in line and teach them discipline. During her stay in the prison, Sawyer finds it has an economy where everything is for sale, from cigarettes to sex. It also has its own set of unspoken rules. Whether a prisoner plays by those rules goes a long way towards determining whether she will sink or swim in this sometimes brutal world.
Sawyer, who spent the night in prison clothes in a typical prisoner's cell, reports that many of the issues unique to women prisoners -- such as a high rate of mental illness (more than half of the population) and prisoners losing custody of their children (99% are mothers) -- are all evident at Metro. The prisoners at Metro reflect a new kind of female criminal, more likely to be incarcerated for a violent crime than women in years past.
Sawyer meets women with extraordinary stories: "Stormy," one of the women of lockdown, who has assaulted both prison staff and fellow inmates; 19-year-old Frankie, the youngest inmate in the prison; Bridget, who says she was her high school's valedictorian and is in prison, she claims, for taking the fall for a friend's crime; and Jimmie Sue Gambrel, a 54-year-old grandmother serving life for convincing her daughter's boyfriend to kill her husband.
Metro is filled with stories about lives ruined. Yet there is also some hope, as some women work to develop the parenting and job skills they never had before incarceration. What the future may hold for them back on the outside remains uncertain.
DIANE SAWYER, CHRIS CUOMO, CYNTHIA McFADDEN and JOHN QUIQONES are the anchors of "Primetime Live." SHELLEY ROSS is the executive producer.