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The premiere in this series that invites audience members to call in to the Davidson County, North Carolina, jail and speak with controversial Sheriff Gerald Hege and his rotating cast of inmates. This special premiere episode opens with a documentary film about Hege and his much debated administrative techniques. Host Nancy Grace explains that immediately after taking the job of sheriff in Davidson County, Hege began a major overhaul of the Davidson County jail and police department. Hege painted the jail pink, with teddy bears, to insult the inmates' "macho" sensibilities. He banned television and "dirty magazines" and forbade inmates to drink coffee or tea. Hege painted an enormous spider on his NASCAR-designed custom police cruiser and forced prisoners to wear cartoonish black-and-white striped uniforms and work on old-fashioned chain gangs. Hege made a habit of appearing publicly as often as possible, uttering slogans like, "I love the smell of handcuffs in the morning!" As Hege's techniques drew more and more publicity, he began to get pegged as a practitioner of cruel and unusual punishment. Grace airs clips from a local television newscast that investigated Hege's administration for brutality and mistreatment of prisoners. Grace notes that even Hege's critics are unable to argue with the statistics, however. Since he took office, crime has dropped thirty-seven percent in the county. After the documentary, the program introduces its actual format: Hege sits in a cell with two prisoners and alternately lectures them and takes calls from viewers. The prisoners in this episode, "Budman" and David, are introduced as a "wife-beater" and a "crackhead," respectively. The men argue about what constitutes domestic violence for a while, after which Hege yells into the camera, "Go grab your children and have 'em watch this! They need to see this!" The sheriff then opines that the death penalty should be administered publicly, and he says that he always tells people who criticize his jail to avoid being incarcerated there. Hege takes a number of calls from individuals who laud him for his efforts. One man says that he was a guard in a jail that allowed "cable TV, porno magazines, a commissary with candy." The man complains that the prisoners were treated as though they had done nothing wrong. Hege takes a profanity-laden prank call and concludes by admonishing the prisoners once again for their behavior. Commercials deleted.

(This series is occasionally broadcast as "Inside Cell Block F")

Cataloging of this program was made possible by The New York Community Trust - Haas Foundation Fund.


  • NETWORK: Court TV
  • DATE: July 20, 1999 Tuesday 10:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:45:46
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:65418
  • GENRE: Public affairs/Documentaries
  • SUBJECT HEADING: North Carolina - Correctional institutions; Prisons; Prison administration; Crime and criminals
  • SERIES RUN: Court TV - TV series, 1999-2000


  • Andrew Regal … Executive Producer
  • Audrey Jones … Senior Producer
  • Julian P. Hobbs … Producer
  • Nancy Grace … Host
  • Gerald Hege … Host
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