Prison Diaries

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Prison Diaries TV Poster Image
Female inmate stories are both violent and sensational.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series presents a sensational overview of violent crimes committed by women.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The inmates have all been convicted of terrible crimes. Some are remorseful, others are less so.


Includes some very detailed discussions about violent criminal acts, including beatings, murder, and cannibalism. Crime scene images of bloody objects are occasionally visible. Recreations of events are blurry and do not show the most violent parts of the crimes being committed, but are still disturbing. Domestic violence is also discussed. Childhood sexual abuse is discussed as a potential reason for some inmates criminal behaviors.


Words like "pissed" audible; words like "f--k" are bleeped.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol and drug-related crimes, as well addiction, are discussed. Drinking is occasionally visible in recreations.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that in this docuseries inmates offer candid and detailed accounts of the violent crimes that landed them in prison. Drug/alcohol addiction, sexual abuse, and horrific murders are discussed. Blurry recreations of criminal acts don't offer a lot of detail, but are intense enough to be disturbing. The language is occasionally strong ("pissed", curses like "f--k" bleeped), and drinking (beer; hard liquor) is sometimes visible.

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What's the story?

PRISON DIARIES features female inmates talking about their crimes while sitting behind bars. The women offer first-person accounts of what they did, as well as explanations for their criminal behavior. Interviews of law enforcement officials, legal representatives, and reporters who are familiar with their cases round out the details, while the families of both the inmates and their victims share their thoughts and feelings. Adding to the drama are blurry recreations of the moments the crimes were committed, as well as excerpts of police recordings and other key events that took place during the investigation.

Is it any good?

The docuseries explores the criminal minds of these women by allowing them to tell their stories from their point of view. It also highlights many of the bad choices they made throughout their lives that led them to prison.

Thanks to the endless (and graphic) accounts of the violent crimes they committed, the series is more sensational than informative. But folks who like this sort of thing may find it interesting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about television shows that feature convicted criminals. Is giving inmates the media spotlight to discuss the crimes they've committed appropriate? Why or why not? Are viewers supposed to be entertained by their stories, or are they supposed to treat them as cautionary tales?

TV details

  • Premiere date: September 27, 2011
  • Cast: Stew Herrera
  • Network: TLC
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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