Watch The Big House

The Big House is a television documentary which profiles some of the toughest prisons in the US. Paul Sorvino is the narrator of the show that takes you behind the walls of several different prisons around the world. This show will go into the lives of the inmates and staff as well as giving you a glimpse of the history of each prison.

In one episode you will be taken to the Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is where you will see all men and women that are sentenced to death. You will also find this is the starting point for male prisoners that have received sentences over 20 years. The Maze prison located near Belfast showcases several different incidents. These incidents range from human waste being smeared on the walls to IRA inmates refusing to wear uniforms.

Each episode will bring you to a new prison. In each new prison you will find many different incidents being investigated and how each prison deals with the issues. You will watch and see the day to day operations of these prisons and how each prison handles what goes on behind the walls of the prison.

A&E
1 Season, 13 Episodes
July 16, 2009
Documentary & Biography, News
6.5/10
Cast: Yvette Nicole Brown, Aaron Grady, Kevin Hart, Keith David
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The Big House Full Episode Guide

  • State Prison, Parchman Mississippi... A land without visible boundries... Originally a slave plantaion ruled by the whip... Today its most important crop is neither food or cotton... but prisoners. 75 percent are African-American. During its hundred-thirty year history, Parchman has embodied the traditions and folk wisdom of the American south in a way no other prison ever has. Its legacy includes brutal executions in the State's gas chamber and conjugal visits for the best behaved convicts. A large number of "lifers" have prepared themselves to die here. A few hold out hope of early release.

  • Located near Belfast, Maze Prison holds both Catholic and Protestant prisoners, members of paramilitary groups like the Irish Republican Army. The prison consists of 8 H-shaped cellblocks with cameras, searchlights, 16-foot walls, and guard towers. Outside, British soldiers patrol. We investigate several incidents, including: the Blanket Protests, when IRA inmates refused to wear uniforms; the Dirty Protest, when prisoners smeared human waste on prison walls; and the Bobby Sand hunger strike.

  • Built in 1932, the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, looks more like a church than a prison. When it opened, it was considered the most modern and humane prison in America. We'll examine its history and inmate roster, which reads like a "Who's Who" of 20th-century American history and includes Alger Hiss, Morton Sobel, and Al Capone, who spent two nights there on his way to Alcatraz. Today, Lewisburg is home to one of the terrorists convicted of the World Trade Center bombing.

  • The largest prison system in the free world, its 20,000 male and female inmates reflect the crimes and racial tensions of Los Angeles County. The challenge is staggering--feed 75,000 meals a day and keep an estimated 16,000 gang members from killing each other! Welcome to LA County Jail with an inmate roster that reads like a Who's Who of national crime stories--Bugsy Siegel, Mickey Cohen, Robert Mitchum, Robert Blake, Charles Manson...all passed through its standing-room-only holding tanks!

  • Called the "Castle on the Cumberland", its inspiring medieval presence is a focal point on the landscape. But this castle is really Kentucky's maximum-security prison, reinforced with modern cellblocks and electronic surveillance to keep watch on the state's most dangerous prisoners. We follow an officer on his shift and step inside the high-security block that houses the "worst of the worst", and tour death row that's electric chair holds a gruesome national record--seven executions in a single day!

  • An inside-the-walls look at the bloody story of Folsom Prison that opened in 1880, experiencing the first of many escapes the same year. Designed for habitual felons and incorrigibles doing hard time, its violent history includes 93 hangings between 1895 and 1937. Narrated by Paul Sorvino, it shows why Folsom prisoners get the blues!

  • Central Prison in Raleigh, is the first stop for all of North Carolina's male felons with sentences of 20 years or longer. It's also the last stop for men and women sentenced to death. Today, Central is a modern state-of-the-art prison, but it began as a dark dungeon built nearly 120 years ago.

  • The State Penitentiary in Auburn, New York is the centerpiece of a city and a monument to one of America's first attempts at criminal rehabilitation. Its founders were liberal prison reformers who believed their task could be accomplished through penitence, hard work, and silence. The "Auburn System" was adopted by most U.S. prisons in the early 1900s. Now, all that remains of that system is hard work--and hard time--for the most violent offenders in New York State.

  • Most of Angola's 5,000 maximum-security inmates will never see the outside world again.

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The Big House is currently available to watch and stream on A&E. You can also buy, rent The Big House on demand at iTunes online.