Welcome back, fellow cellmates!
Thanks to you loyal and numerous viewers, all of whom I'm certain are productive, law-abiding, impossibly attractive members of society, "Beyond Scared Straight" is back for more explosive incarceration. It's time for a fantastic SEASON FOUR!
We have a varied line-up of episodes this season, visiting many new facilities and encountering all kinds of new face tattoos and colorful language. My vocabulary has changed drastically since we began this series so if I ever end up in jail, I might just fit in.
Our first new episode, premiering on May 30 at 10pm on A&E, takes four teen girls behind bars in Oneida County, NY. We have visited Oneida County once before, but this time we show something that has always been powerful and entertaining--FEMALE INMATES!
Going back to our very first episode in Chowchilla, CA, which memorably featured "Diabla," "Green Eyes," and "Pretty Boy," female inmates have always been the most frightening and fierce characters we come across. They're also the most popular with viewers. Two years later, people still ask me about "Diabla," assuming that we must be pen pals. We are not pals but she is in the pen, so I guess they're partially correct.
Deputies often tell us that female jails are scarier than male ones, and Oneida County's female program is no exception. I won't be inviting any of these inmates to Thanksgiving dinner this year.
Spending the day behind bars will be Kristen, 15, who is the first teen we have featured charged with bank fraud. Her provocative dress makes her an instant target with officers. Lakeya, 14, has a bad temper that often explodes into fits of domestic violence against her grandmother. Lakeya's mother has been in and out of jail and her grandmother doesn't want Lakeya to follow the same path. Destiny, 11, and Ali, 13 are cousins and best friends. They disrespect authority and both have a love of fighting. Will they stick together behind bars or will one turn on the other? I guess you'll just have to tune in to find out.
Later this season, we will travel to the far off lands of South Carolina, Virginia, Illinois and Michigan. We will see the return of good 'ol boy Deputy Lyle from Floyd County, GA. In one of my favorite episodes, set in Lake County, FL, a brother and sister have one of the most emotional and frightening experiences we have ever filmed. It's the closest we will ever get to soap opera.
Thank you so much for continuing to watch our series and for heading to Twitter, Facebook and AETV.com to comment on what you see. I may not always respond but I read the Twitter feeds during every episode. It's such a vocal community! I try to predict what moments will most impact the viewers, or make them laugh, and it's great when I predict correctly.
I probably enjoy watching the series as much as our audience and it's great when we are thrilled by the same moments. My cohorts and I may put the series together but I think I'm also its most loyal viewer. I love the drama and suspense of each episode, and even though I know the outcomes of the teens, I still find myself on the edge of my seat wondering how deeply the prison programs will touch them by the end of the episode.
The best thing about your continued loyalty means that we will continue to make more episodes, meet new kids, and change more lives for the better. It also means I get to show up to work each day and spend time with the most talented group of filmmakers in documentary television.
Most of the people in our production offices and in the field have been with the series from the very beginning. It's not an easy show to make. The teens aren't cooperative, the inmates are unpredictable, law enforcement personnel have strict rules they must adhere to, and the schedule is always tight. Also, I am not pleased with the lack of chocolate on the office snack shelf, but apparently we have a lot of people here watching their weight.
Still, we all know that we are doing something positive and are using TV to reach so many families across the country. There are no egos in our offices. The people I work with are like a family that gave birth to this baby we call "Beyond Scared Straight." It's not the cutest baby and it swears a little too much, but it's our baby and we love it.
Speaking of babies, my daughter just turned 3-years-old. If viewers can keep this show on the air for at least the next 10 years, maybe she'll start hanging out with the wrong crowd and end up on the show. Then you can all meet her, and I can interview myself and talk about how she used to be such a good kid.
So, please keep watching so my daughter and I can be on TV! And spread the word that we are coming back May 30!