Parents' Guide to

Girls Incarcerated

By Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Gritty, insightful prison docu has strong language, themes.

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This intense series tells the gritty stories of young women who find themselves serving time in a setting that is designed to both punish them for their wrong-doings, but still give them the skills and support necessary to be able to live better lives once released. While some of the students are able to function in a dorm-like setting and earn privileges while building these skills, others seem to be caught in a revolving door that keeps them from moving forward thanks to being unable to break free from old habits and behaviors. Many who are released inevitably find themselves back in the system thanks to being unable to follow probation rules, interacting with toxic family and friends, and an inability to build their own self-esteem.

Watching these students' ups and downs may prove interesting or entertaining, but many of their life stories, which include growing up with drug-addicted parents, enduring physical and sexual trauma, living in extreme poverty, and in some cases, being abandoned by family members altogether, are tragic. These narratives also underscore some of the larger societal issues that are contributing to their delinquency. But despite the compassion the Madison staff have for the students, their difficulties aren't framed as excuses for anti-social or criminal behavior. it's a complex reality, and one that Girls Incarcerated manages to capture from the point of view of those who live it every day.

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