10 Prison Docu-Series On Streaming Now On Netflix


There seems to be a fascination today with true crimes-related content. Whether watching on cable TV like DISH, DirecTV, and DishLatino, or on a streaming platform like Hulu or Netflix, movies, television shows, and podcasts have become wildly popular with viewers who want to know more about the mind of a criminal or serial killer. However, what happens after the criminal has been arrested and placed in prison?

Right now on Netflix, there is a vast amount of docu-series that give you an inside look into what life is actually like behind bars. Below, we have included a selection of them that the true-crime junkie in you will love to explore further.

  • Girls Incarcerated – 2018

Living behind prison bars is hard for anyone, but particularly so for teenage girls who are just starting to come into their own way. In a state prison in Indiana, this docu-series looks at the lives of several troubled girls who miss birthdays and holidays, learn to interact with fellow inmates, and struggle for some sense of normalcy after committing the crimes that resulted in being locked up.

  • College Behind Bars – 2019

Education can be hard to come by in jail, but for several inmates at a New York prison, a college degree might just be what transforms them into who they are meant to be. As these individuals study, read, and learn within a liberal arts college degree program being delivered to them from inside the prison, the idea of knowledge and education being liberating becomes the most important theme of all.

  • Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story – 2020

Cyntoia Brown was just 16 years old when she murdered a man who picked her up for sex in 2006. Even though she escaped the monstrous kidnapper with her life, she was tried as an adult and punished with a sentence of life in prison. This documentary film shows Cyntoia in a new light by examining her psychological state before and after she committed the crime of self-defense as well as her behavior behind bars.

  • I Am A Killer – 2018

Ever wanted to know a serial killer or criminal’s thoughts leading up to the murder they committed? In this series, you find out just that and more. In extended interviews with prisoners who are waiting out their final days on death row, we learn how people’s motives, ideas, and actions behind their violent crimes played out and what their experience in prison is like as someone who has been convicted of a capital crime.

  • Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons – 2016

Some prisons are certainly better than others, which we see first-hand in this docu-series that premiered in 2016. From Costa Rica and Colombia to Norway and Romania, investigative journalists explore what prison life is like for the inmates in these countries and show the truth about what is being done right and what needs to change.

  • First and Last – 2018

Prison has the power to change everything that makes up who you are. In this docu-series, viewers gain a unique perspective that is relatively new to the true-crime scene – seeing prisoners on their first and last day of prison. At Georgia’s Gwinnett County Jail, prisoners are interviewed on their last day of prison right before their scheduled release and reflect on how they have changed and what they learned throughout their sentence.

  • Happy Jail – 2019

A jail in the Philippines went viral on social media years ago when they uploaded a video of their prisoners performing a choreographed routine to a Michael Jackson song. The juxtaposition of happiness, dancing, and prison regulation clothing sparked global interest as well as controversy and criticism about what, if any, privileges the jail’s violent prisoners should be allowed to exercise.

  • The Confession Tapes – 2017

Straying slightly from the theme of “life behind bars,” this show is an investigate look into murder charges against people who may not have committed the crime that they confessed to. In fact, the tapes after which the show is named were all taken right before the alleged perpetrators were convicted. The goal is for the investigators to determine whether or not they were telling the truth, or if maybe, someone coerced them into lying.

  • Time: The Kalief Browder Story – 2017

Kalief Browder was just a teenager when he was accused of stealing a backpack and then placed inside Rikers Island for three years to await his trial. Two out of these three years were spent in solitary confinement where he endured trauma and emotional turmoil. Now, we must see what is to happen after this teen who did not commit the crime of which he was accused was forced to spend three years of his young life behind bars.

  • Jailbirds – 2019

Jailbirds features a wide variety of female prisoners living out their sentences in Sacramento County. Though this docu-series is much less about insight into life in prison and has more of a focus on the petty, insignificant dramas that spark tension and arguments between the women, it still is a show that many viewers may find entertaining.