Thinking about taking that mall cop’s Segway for a joyride, or showering those pesky animal-rights activists with urine-filled water balloons? Well, son, you’re going to need some tips on how to behave in jail. For advice, we tapped John Langley and Morgan Langley, the minds behind the upcoming MyNetworkTV docu-series Jail (and, in John’s case, the creator and producer of COPS). Here, they weigh in…
On the difference between jail and prison:
John: Jail is where people go after arrest and before trial. There are some exceptions—people having long trials, for example, might be in there for a while. Prison is for people who have been convicted of crimes. People tend to use the two words interchangeably, but there’s a world of difference.
Morgan: Jail is far more dynamic. Anybody, literally anybody, can come through the doors of jail and be locked in—from murderers to traffic violators, and everything in between. Charles Manson, Paris Hilton, you name it.
John: Prison is a long-term housing environment and not a lot happens on a day-to-day basis. If you go to a big city or county jail on Friday or Saturday night, you have tons of people coming through the door. You’ve got officers that have to deal with all these people. It’s great for TV.
On jail, uh, “etiquette”:
John: Don’t be stupid. Don’t fight the cops. Don’t resist arrest. Keep your mouth shut. You can’t mouth off around people who are in jail.
Morgan: If you see a guy whose pants are drenched with urine lying on the floor of the jail cell and he just woke up from a nap, I don’t think you should mess with him.
On surviving one’s first few hours in jail:
John: Follow orders.
Morgan: Don’t hide your drugs in any body orifices because the cops will end up finding it somehow. Maybe I should put that differently if I’m giving advice—how about: if you’re going to hide drugs, don’t use your own body orifices.
John: Corrections officers have seen it all. They’re pros. You’re not going to fool them. You’re in a contained environment, so behave accordingly.
On newbie mistakes:
John: A lot of people don’t realize that they’ve been arrested. Their behavior on the street continues into jail. If you’re arrested and you still don’t get it, that’s a problem.
Morgan: One girl told the cops that they were under arrest. “I’m going to sue you guys! You guys are going to be busted! I’m going to call the judge!”
John: A lot of them say, “I’m rich, you can’t do this to me.” I got news for you: jail is democratic. Everybody has a right to go and everybody can go.
On the most disturbing things they’ve seen:
John: The mentally unstable people who go through jail. You see what officers have to put up with in terms of people spreading their feces all over the place, being crazy, totally wacko.
Morgan: There was this one guy who was so high on methamphetamine. He was such an addict, he tried to transform himself into something inhuman. You want an ultimate ad for “Just Say No” or some of these anti-drug campaigns? This is it.
John: I’ve seen a lot in my 20-odd years of filming COPS. This guy scared me straight, and I don’t even do drugs. It shows you the bizarre transformative power of drug addiction. It’s almost like watching a movie with special effects, in which the normal person turns into a creature and it’s all because of the drugs.
Morgan: Another guy gets put in a holding cell and he ties his sock around his wrist. Then he looks at a whole room of cops and basically motions, “Bring it on.” A whole room of cops. That’s not smart.
What was the funniest thing you saw?
Morgan: Lots of funny drunks. Some mean ones, too, but mostly funny ones.
John: I think Morgan will agree with me on this. There’s a guy from Russia who gets arrested, and he runs around going, “America jail is paradise! America jail is paradise.” To each his own, I guess.