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Miami vice gives Louis a real jailhouse shock; shelley vision.

Byline: JIM SHELLEY

ONE lesson stood out from Louis Theroux: Miami Mega-Jail last night.

If you go to Miami, make sure you take the number of a good lawyer. Because you do NOT want to end up in Miami County Jail.

It could happen, too. After all, the two-part show also taught us the difference between "prison" and "jail".

All of the 1,000 men incarcerated in Miami County were awaiting trial and therefore (potentially) innocent. Some had been there for years, waiting for a court date.

So the wrongly accused, including those charged with minor offences like driving without a state licence, were mixed with the guilty: multiple murderers, armed robbers, thugs... And yet despite the fact no one had been on trial, Miami County Jail is, Theroux said, "tougher and more brutal" than most of the prisons the guilty would eventually be sent to.

Conditions were so spartan and violent there that the subject of ITV's recent series Strangeways looked like The Naughty Step in a nursery school by comparison.

Theroux described it as "like walking through a zoo".

Inmates lived 18-25 to a cell, without the televisions and PlayStations prisoners have in Strangeways to keep them pacified.

They are kept in their cells 24 hours a day, with two hours of "yard time" a week.

"One shocking thing is how much violence there is," Louis suggested mildly to a guard. "And I just wonder if there isn't more YOU can do?" But guards went into cells only rarely. This basically left them to be run by the prisoners, who had developed a gladiatorial code of justice - preying on the weakest inmates like wild dogs, fighting over food and territory.

Bizarrely, the bottom bunks carried the most status. Rank was established by fighting with anyone suspected of snitching, stealing or disrespect in an area - or arena - called "The Paint".

One prisoner had just prevailed in "an act of violence. Somebody got their eye f***** up".

"Can you speculate on what might have been the reason for it happening?" Louis prompted.

"What might have been the reason?" the man considered. "That we're all criminals. Vicious animals."

One inmate at Miami County had stabbed another man with an ice pick - not on the outside, but IN the jail.

It's true documentaries like this aren't that original and Theroux has been accused of just shooting fish in a barrel.

But you had to admire his front, strolling around, cheerfully ZLouis asking cells full of tattooed gang members: "How's it going? Do you like your life in here?" His genial, deliberately naive style elicits some great material.

"I learn five words in the dictionary a day," one multiple murderer facing the death penalty told him. Yesterday, he said proudly, the words were "'loquacious', 'kookaburra' and 'bratwurst'".

"That's only three," Theroux pointed out.

In part one last week, he asked one innocuous-looking youngster: "Do you know what your defence is?" "We're going to try to plead insanity," the answer came back. Gulp.

One gang member had killed a crackhead over $20. Aged 21, he was facing a sentence of 40 years.

"How do you feel?" asked Theroux, presumably expecting some regret or despair.

"Out there," the young man said calmly, "there's too much pain. I got to take care of mom, who's an alcoholic. Brother's a nobody. Sister wants to prostitute all day. So I feel... relief."

Theroux ended with a note of hope that the boot camp some inmates undertake will inspire a life change. "For at least a few, the brutal code of the jail might be channelled into the chance of a new life."

But all things considered, Miami might be worth avoiding - just in case.

Jims jam up the TV THERE were so many "Jims" on telly, it made me a bit paranoid.

In The Apprentice, Vincent told us how "Tom touched Jim's body for 45 minutes".

As for the homeless person adopted by Colin and Justin in Home Is Where The Heart Is, the narrator lamented: "Jim's relapse on to alcohol was not a one-off."

This was despite Colin and Justin's ideas for stopping Jim's decades of drinking, such as a star chart, a job milking cows and taking him to watch them in panto. (HASN'T HE SUFFERED ENOUGH?!) Finally, in EastEnders, Fatboy cried: "That is wack! Jim don't need no care home!" (Oh, I don't know.) "I don't know what goes on in Jim's head any more," Dot wailed. "I pretend I do, but I don't."

Exit Jim in an ambulance.

'Busy' stars Bagg a jolly HOW long do you think it took Sheila Ferguson, Stuart Baggs, Ed Giddins and Paula Hamilton to check their diaries when Channel 4 asked if they were available for 10 days in Cape Town shooting Celebrity Five Go To...? Not that this stopped them from complaining.

Christopher Biggins proved particularly loathsome.

"This does nothing for me," he moaned during a safari to a cheetah sanctuary. "I'd rather be at home having a cup of tea."

Visiting a local township he carped: "I was a bit disappointed. It was like Hackney. I was expecting running sewers and children playing in appalling conditions... " Back to panto.

TV is edukashinul 1. Our bodies consist of 100 trillion cells 2. Each of our brains has 100 billion cells 3. The largest organ in your body is your skin (Inside The Human Body) News update of the week Six days now, and the emergency services are still working on removing Alan Titchmarsh from Prince Philip's posterior (Prince Philip at 90) Break it to him gently "When you're working hard, you're going to have to make sure you have a bath every day and wash your clothes" - Alex James patronising his pet homeless person, Danny (Home Is Where The Heart Is) Diva of the week "Anyone would think that I asked for a unicorn sandwich!" - Tracy Barlow tries to order soya milk in Roy's Rolls (Coronation St) Entrepreneur of the week "A 'winge' is a cross between a wig and a fringe" - Salesman for a clip-on hair piece (The Apprentice) Wit of the week "The IRA were not like al-Qaeda, there was a levity about the IRA. They did murals. Like Banksy or something" - Stewart Lee reminisces about "the golden age of mainland terror" (Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle) D'OH!! "The law is clear.

There is still a court order in place which states that we can't name Ryan Giggs" - Legal expert, Joshua Rozenberg (The Six O'Clock News) Optimist of the week "Definitely no beaky noses. You get Sarah Jessica Parker for me, and I'm out of here. You won't see me for dust" - Rob, an engineer from Manchester (Dating In The Dark). Sarah Jessica Parker was said to be devastated. On the other hand, he's got a point Show off of the week "My party trick is being able to put a glass between my boobs and then drink from it" - Well, we've all done it, Holly (Geordie Shore) Banker of the week "I was thinking of getting a pet penguin. And some fish? I suppose probably kippers... I don't know what else they like" - Sloane Ranger Francis, to his PA (Made In Chelsea) Well she said it Dr Michael Spence: "How do I look?" Patient: "Quite gay."

(Planet Holby) Bad advice of the week "Let your feelings out!" - Wilson to Dr Greg House, prompting him to drive his car into Cuddy's living room (House) Nice try of the week "Previously on Doctor Who... " - No, you've lost me (Doctor Who, which had an identical copy of every character saying things like: "I thought I explained, 'I'm him, and he's me' ") Ask a stupid question "If you were playing against him, Roy, what would you do about Messi?" - Adrian Chiles to Roy Keane (Champions League Final). I think we all know the answer...

Culture vulture of the week "We were mostly in the Louvre" - Sally Webster on her trip to Paris with Jeff. That funny French food plays havoc (Coronation St) Kierston Wareing (The Shadow Line) Best lips on television 24 Hours In A&E God bless the NHS Bull jumping (Inside The Human Body) Don't try this at home The Champions League Final Lucky Barca Fiz (Coronation St) Most annoying woman on television Debbie Harry (Loose Women) Just wrong DAFTA AWARD Who is the most ludicrous: lustrous "laydeez man" Vincent (The Apprentice, pictured left) or Ollie (Made in Chelsea, right)? Vote at twitter.com/jimshelley17 or email shelleyvision@mirror.co.uk - a copy of Leslie Phillips' autobiography Hello and pounds 50 worth of hair products to the best answer.

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HARD CELL and prisoner Errol Daniels BYE-BYE Jim from EastEnders
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:May 30, 2011
Words:1444
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