Takes an in-depth look at Miami’s jail system, a vast holding pen for the unconvicted where most inmates are awaiting trial. Louis spends time in the fifth and sixth floors of Miami County Jail, where many of the most volatile inmates are incarcerated. Here the inmates have developed a strange and violent jail culture and live under the sway of a gladiatorial code. Housed in large cage-like dwellings that hold up to 24 men, they remain in the cells almost all the time and may only leave for yard time twice a week. They fight each other for food, for status, and often just to pass the endless hours of confinement.
Louis meets an alleged triple murderer facing a possible death sentence. He also follows a group of forty or so younger inmates who have escaped prison by pleading guilty and agreeing to attend a four-month military-style boot camp. Among them is a 14-year-old boy facing a possible ten-year sentence for armed robbery if he can’t survive the boot camp’s relentless and brutal training and indoctrination programme. Many will drop out and receive prison sentences, but for a handful this will be their second chance at life.