Girls Incarcerated Season 2 Review: New Girls, New Prison, Same System Back on the Block

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Summary

Applying the same format to a new facility, this refreshing approach to troubled youth remains compelling.

The first season of Girls Incarcerated debuted last March. We reviewed it, we liked it, and as the comments of support for the show and the troubled teen girls it followed began to pile up beneath the article, it became pretty clear that its unique approach to prison life was a successful one. Many commenters wanted to personally reach out and adopt some of the girls featured. When Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana, where Season 1 of Girls Incarcerated was filmed, was shut down, many lamented the fact we wouldn’t get a second season. Rejoice, then, since Girls Incarcerated Season 2 debuted on Netflix today, in a different facility, with a new crop of girls, but with the same refreshing approach to rehabilitation.

Girls Incarcerated Season 2 doesn’t wipe the slate clean completely, though. LaPorte Juvenile Correctional Facility, where the eight new episodes are set, was stocked with high-risk inmates who were moved from Madison after various reforms reduced the state’s imprisoned youth by over half. It feels, in many ways, like an organic outgrowth of that first season, proof that its empathetic and encouraging yearn for change can have results.

Review | Girls Incarcerated (2018)

That empathy is still central to the show’s identity. You’d be forgiven for forgetting that some of these girls are inmates at all, so similar are they to ordinary teens in any other environment. Which is the point, obviously. These are ordinary teens, with the same dreams, ambitions, and anxieties. The difference is that, for various reasons, they have been ensnared in an opportunistic and capitalistic for-profit prison system — no, not by accident, but often thanks to forces outside their control.

Girls Incarcerated Season 2 recognizes the perils of prison officials who stand to profit from their facilities remaining full, and of harshly inflated sentences for relatively petty crime, and while it doesn’t absolve its subjects of personal responsibility, it also positions them within a broader system within which their criminality isn’t inherent, but part of a cycle that can be at worst interrupted and at best broken completely. It isn’t a coincidence that the various social factors that contribute to misbehavior among youth — lack of education, relative poverty, domestic abuse — remain consistent all over the world, nor that any attempts to address the matter earlier rather than later tends to see dramatic results.

This is why Girls Incarcerated Season 2 places such focus on education and positive role models, on referring to the girls as students rather than inmates, on giving them structure and a long-term goal and a purpose beyond simply serving their sentence. And it’s also, again not coincidentally, the reason why so many people became so enamored with the girls in the first season, and will presumably do so in the second. This is a prison-set docuseries quite unlike any other, one which doesn’t see crime among youth as inevitable, doesn’t consider its subjects as less-than-human or beyond reform, and recognizes that imprisonment can be not just a punishment but an opportunity for growth, change, and progress.

Jonathon Wilson

Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.

3 thoughts on “Girls Incarcerated Season 2 Review: New Girls, New Prison, Same System

  • June 29, 2019 at 3:21 am
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    This is a great show. I love the prison warden. You can see he truly loves these kids and really works hard at trying to help these girls.. if he was to ever read this, I would say God bless you. The world needs a lot more folks like you!

    Reply
  • July 1, 2019 at 12:19 am
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    This show is a complete waste of tax payers money to run this program. These girls are learning NOTHING!!! They should be in juv – jail. This program is laughable. There needs to be harsher punishments for the girls actions. They want to act tough then they need tougher punishments. I bet that everyone of these kids will find themselves in jail within months of completing there time in the joke of a program.

    Reply
    • August 1, 2019 at 8:09 pm
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      I am a relative to one of the girls you are bad mouthing and its people like you that are the reason kids these days have bad attitudes. These girls are humans just like we are and they live a life of things people like me and you don’t have to deal with. if you knew any of there stories you might be more sympathetic. my cousin has gone through hell and back and deep down she is a wonderful girl just dealt with a lot of b***%^%. so for a person with all this hate maybe you would like to turn yourself around to cause im sure one day your children or grandchildren will most likely end up in jail or prison because living with you id try anything to get away!!!!

      Reply

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