American RadioWorks, American Public Media’s National Documentary Unit, Takes Listeners Inside a Supermax Prison Where the Nation’s Toughest Gangs Control Crime Far Beyond Prison Walls

Contact: Connie Molby
(651) 290-1113
cmolby@americanpublicmedia.org
www.americanpublicmedia.org

American RadioWorks, American Public Media’s National Documentary Unit, Takes Listeners Inside a Supermax Prison Where the Nation’s Toughest Gangs Control Crime Far Beyond Prison Walls

"Locked Down: Gangs in the Supermax" airs beginning late March

(Los Angeles) March 22, 2005 — American RadioWorks (ARW), the national documentary unit of American Public Media, has produced a new radio and Internet documentary, "Locked Down: Gangs in the Supermax," that explores the rise of powerful prison gangs and their impact on street crime.

Supermax prisons were designed 20 years ago to incapacitate violent criminals by locking them in stark isolation for more than 23 hours a day, often for years on end. But as ARW reports, some of America’s most violent prison gangs have their headquarters at supermaxes. In this documentary, ARW reports from inside one of the nationís biggest supermaxes — California’s Pelican Bay State Prison.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the U.S. prison population grew to more than 2 million in 2005. Recent surveys estimate that more than 300,000 gang members are currently behind bars. ARW’s "Locked Down: Gangs in the Supermax" features interviews with current and former prison gang members and prison officials. The documentary explores:

  • Insiders’ accounts of how prison gangs execute their orders on the streets from behind prison walls.

  • The effectiveness of isolating prisoners without any access to rehabilitation programs.

  • How harsh conditions in the supermax compel some inmates to renounce the gangs and cooperate with investigators — risking their lives.

TUNE IN: Produced by American RadioWorks’ Michael Montgomery, and hosted by Deborah Amos, the one-hour documentary, "Locked Down: Gangs in the Supermax," will air on public radio stations in late March.

WEB SITE: Visit www.americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/prisongangs for a transcript and audio of the documentary, along with photos and extended interviews with inmates, ex-gang members and prison officials.

American RadioWorks is the documentary unit of American Public Media. ARW is public radio’s largest documentary production unit; it creates documentaries, series projects, and investigative reports for the public radio system and the Internet. ARW is based in St. Paul, Minn., with staff journalists in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Calif., and Durham, N.C.

"Locked Down: Gangs at the Supermax" was produced by American RadioWorks in cooperation with the Center for Investigative Reporting. Major funding for American RadioWorks comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

American Public Media(tm) is the nation’s second-biggest producer of public radio programs, reaching 13.5 million listeners nationwide each week. National programs include A Prairie Home Companion®, Saint Paul Sunday®, Marketplace®, Sound Money®, The Splendid Table®, Being™ and special reports produced by its national documentary unit, American RadioWorks®. American Public Media is the national production and distribution division of Minnesota Public Radio®. Minnesota Public Radio, along with its sister company Southern California Public Radio, belongs to a larger family of companies within American Public Media Group, a national nonprofit organization whose purpose is to develop resources, services and systems to support public media for public service. A complete list of stations, programs and additional services can be obtained at www.americanpublicmedia.us.