Plot: The first season of Girls Incarcerated took us inside the Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility, but that institution was closed down before this second season, so now the show follows the girls of LaPorte Juvenile Correctional Facility. This complex is home to inmates from all over the state, as various reforms led to fewer facilities and less prisoners. LaPorte has girls involved in serious crimes, from assault to drug trafficking and beyond, so not just minor criminal acts, but also violent, repeat offenders are present here. The program runs much like the one at Madison, with faster releases for those who behave and pursue education, while problematic actions can result in longer stays and less privileges. So the location might be different this time around, but the general atmosphere is about the same. Once again the series runs eight episodes, each packed with stories of the locked up young women.
Entertainment Value: This second season of Girls Incarcerated was a given, as the first run of episodes was quite popular and several of the show’s subjects would become social media magnets. The episodes here involve all new girls, as you’d expect, since turnover with the inmates is high and while updates might have been welcome, that isn’t offered here. So we have a new group of girls and a new location, but the basic premise remains the same as before. The show follows a small number of inmates, but also gives an overview of life inside the facility and a cursory scan of more of the population, just not as in depth as the central subjects. The main girls are given ample screen time, so we learn about not only their missteps that landed them in LaPorte, but their lives on the outside and in some cases, their plans or dreams for the future. These are mostly tragic, hard to listen to stories, so for such young girls to endure these things, it is no shock many turn to drugs and fall in with the wrong crowds. How the girls cope with these issues is a big part of how their time in LaPorte goes, some lash out and others just put their heads down and push on. A good deal of time is also spent on the routines of LaPorte, the education program, the warden’s policies, and even experiences of the guards and counselors, for a wide scope of perspectives.
I found this season season to be a suitable followup, but I have to admit the main stories aren’t as memorable this time around. That first season had some charismatic, larger than life girls involved and of course, that made for dramatic interviews and moments, to be sure. The stories this time seem darker and more intimate, as we’re taken deeper inside the pasts of these girls and that makes for riveting scenes, even if the personalities involved aren’t as dynamic. On the plus side, this makes things feel a little less drama driven and more like a traditional documentary, so that is a balance, though there’s no shortage of drama here. As before, the show moves between girls often and tends to focus on one subject per episode, but smaller scenes are devoted to building stories and the other prominent subjects. This keeps things brisk and kinetic, but the pace slows when needed to dive deep into the backstories or allow extra time for a growing thread to develop. I also feel like more time is invested this time on the social issues, both the circumstances of the girls’ lives befor LaPorte and the difficulties they might face once released. In total, this second season of Girls Incarcerated is once again well crafted and an addictive, educational binge watch candidate.