FLORENCE — It turns out being a jail inmate never leaves you — even if you weren’t a real one to begin with.
In the spring, seven average citizens, a mix of men and women, were booked into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center under different aliases and phony charges to spend “60 Days In” the jail as part of a reality cable TV show of that name. The Sheriff’s Office went through the typical booking process, including putting the volunteers’ mugshots on the county website, as it does with every inmate.
But there’s just one problem: One of the inmates, Brooke, was booked into the jail under her real identity.
Dan Barr, an Arizona attorney who specializes in public records law, said it’s problematic for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office to create false arrest reports.
“Maybe it’s not the job of a taxpayer-funded agency to be creating a false report?” Barr suggested.
Barr said it would have been one thing for A&E, the television network that produces the show, to house the photos of the inmates, but it’s altogether different for a law enforcement agency to create a false record and post it for all the world to see.
In fact, the inmate, Brooke, apparently has had second thoughts: A representative for the public relations firm doing publicity for the show said because the record shows Brooke’s real name with a false arrest — she was booked under “aggravated DUI” — she’s hoping to have all references to her fake arrest scrubbed from the internet.
“We’d like to request that Brooke’s mug shot and information be removed from the site, as she was booked at the Pinal County Jail as part of a program at the facility — she was not, in fact, an actual inmate,” Jason Tolbert, the representative from Baby Grande PR, wrote to PinalCentral.
PinalCentral Assistant Managing Editor Andy Howell said: “We’ll remove the mugshot because we have a responsibility to correct the record when government sends out fake news.”
Tolbert originally told PinalCentral his firm would comment on the situation; however, he did not respond to multiple requests for a follow-up interview, such as to discuss how the mug shot showed up under Brooke’s real name and whether this had happened to other show participants.
Barr said the Sheriff’s Office should have known better. Arizona law is quite clear that it is “unlawful for a person to knowingly make to a law enforcement agency of either this state or a political subdivision of this state a false, fraudulent or unfounded report or statement or to knowingly misrepresent a fact for the purpose of interfering with the orderly operation of a law enforcement agency or misleading a peace officer.” Knowingly creating a false report is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
But when the person creating the false record is the agency itself, Barr said he wasn’t sure what the consequence was, or should be.
“Maybe they should go back to being police officers and get out of the entertainment business,” Barr suggested.
When asked about taking questions on the show at an unrelated event, a Pinal County spokeswoman said officials weren’t going to discuss the matter at that time. The spokeswoman didn’t respond to an email with written questions.
“60 Days In” is a pseudo-documentary that follows “inmates” inside county jails. Produced for A&E, the show is supposed to depict life inside the jail, and in some cases, shed light on the misdeeds going on at the correction facilities.
The first segment involving the Pinal County jail will premier Jan. 3.
“This season has new stakes, new twists and seven innocent participants including one ‘lone wolf’ who shakes up the program,” the producers said in a promotional press release.
According to the release, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb “carefully selected seven innocent people to go undercover for a deep dive into the inner workings of his facility.”
The producers said the participants included a police officer, a private investigator and even an “ex-Latin King turned minister.”
The release said the undercover participants were given specific missions by the sheriff. In a jail with problems stemming from drugs, gangs and operational issues, Lamb assigned separate objectives based on each individual’s skill sets and interests, in order to best help the facility uncover flaws and evoke change.
Prior to going in, six of the participants met and trained with one another, leaving only one to enter on his own and operate as a “lone wolf” on the sheriff’s behalf, the press release stated.
“60 Days In” is produced by Lucky 8 for the A&E Network.
In 2016, after the show filmed in Clark County, Indiana, several guards were fired for misconduct. Clark County received $60,000 to film and to house the inmates for two months. It wasn’t immediately known how much Pinal County received from the show.