The BEST Episodes of Behind Bars: Rookie Year

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Nov 6, 2021

Network: A&E

New corrections officers struggle with the physical and emotional demands of the job.

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Building the Case

#1 - Building the Case

Season 2 - Episode 8 - Aired Oct 13, 2016

The department's case against prison gangs is building and the rookies must learn how to find evidence that will take them down for good. Purto redeems himself with the STIU unit and assists in a major SNM drug bust. D'Angelo finally finds drugs in the open dormitory. Mangin and Cordova respond to an emergency involving an irate inmate. Fabian gets discouraged and has to call his brother for some help.

star 8.12
82 votes
The Takedown

#2 - The Takedown

Season 2 - Episode 12 - Aired Nov 10, 2016

The war against the SNM gang reaches a critical point and the rookies help put the final nail in the coffin. Purto takes part in a surprise raid on SNM leaders and Javier conducts his first extraction. Israel considers a job change in light of the recent news and Lily finally finds her voice as a confident CO. Mangin and Cordova are no longer rookies anymore and offer wisdom to a brand new class of cadets.

star 8.08
83 votes
The Riot

#3 - The Riot

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Sep 3, 2015

Violence is a way of life in prison and the threat of it keeps both COs and inmates on constant alert. Zach investigates a fight while Keith deals with unstable and violent inmates. Ariel is a "rover" wrestling with the uncertainty that comes with the job. And PNM's tragic past, which includes the bloodiest prison riot in American history, acts as both a haunting reminder and a catalyst for change.

star 8.07
87 votes

#4 - Fear

Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired Sep 1, 2016

The rookies must face their fear while working with violent convicts and gang members. In Israel's first week, a combative inmate pushes him to his limits. Lilly is intimidated and disrespected when she works directly with inmates for the first time. Cordova gets knocked down a peg when he misses drugs in a gang member's cell during a search. New recruit Andrew struggles to graduate from the intense training academy.

star 8.04
105 votes
Breaking Point

#5 - Breaking Point

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired Sep 24, 2015

An inmate walks off a work detail; Ariel is assigned to PNM's worst inmates; Keith decides it's time for a change; Andrew and Mangin form a partnership; a former CO tries to get his job back.

star 7.88
67 votes
The Ones That Make It

#6 - The Ones That Make It

Season 2 - Episode 9 - Aired Oct 20, 2016

After a few months on the job, the rookies are starting to find their footing as officers while others are falling behind. Lilly works control in an SNM pod that has been locked down after a recent murder. Chaz gets ready for an extraction, meanwhile a new cadet, Javier, excels in the training academy. Fabian makes a serious mistake that puts his job in jeopardy. Ariel begins to doubt her career choice and stops showing up to work.

star 7.87
91 votes
Zero to 100

#7 - Zero to 100

Season 2 - Episode 10 - Aired Oct 27, 2016

Violent attacks are on the rise in the prison and things can go from zero to 100 in an instant. Rookie COs must be vigilant at all times to prevent a disaster. Mangin must subdue a volatile inmate when he swallows unidentified contraband. A fight between gang members breaks out in Chaz's unit and Javier's first assignment as a CO is yard duty. Tired of the violence and stress, Ariel quits the job. Meanwhile D'Angelo moves to PNM in the hopes of getting to see more action.

star 7.86
95 votes
Predator vs. Prey

#8 - Predator vs. Prey

Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired Sep 8, 2016

The rookies must find ways to assert their authority or risk being preyed upon by predatory inmates. Ariel is nervous about supervising a death row inmate on tier time. Meanwhile, Lilly struggles to assert herself in a pod full of unruly gang members. Purto returns to work for the first time after a brutal assault by an inmate only to be confronted by another inmate. CO rookie Fabian is overwhelmed on his first day on the job.

star 7.84
87 votes
Boiling Point

#9 - Boiling Point

Season 2 - Episode 5 - Aired Sep 22, 2016

Working in corrections tests patience and courage each day and is beginning to take a toll on the rookies. Mangin and Cordova must subdue a gang member after he threatens them. Israel refuses to follow prison protocol when a former SNM gang member intimidates him. Lilly gets a confidence boost when she discovers drugs in an inmate's mail. Purto is called to a special assignment discharging a high risk inmate.

star 7.80
94 votes
The Drug Trade

#10 - The Drug Trade

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Sep 10, 2015

Most of PNM's inmates are serving long-term sentences for violent crimes, and for many it's drugs that help them get through the time. Despite efforts to keep the prison clean, narcotics always find their way into this otherwise closed world. Francisco suspects an inmate is high while Andrew takes inmates on a high-risk work detail outside of the prison. And new CO Bruce struggles under the weight of high expectations.

star 7.75
80 votes
Mind Games

#11 - Mind Games

Season 2 - Episode 6 - Aired Sep 29, 2016

For the rookies, the mental game in prison can be even more challenging than the physical one. D'Angelo is frustrated when he has trouble catching inmates in his unit with contraband. Lilly learns a hard lesson about trusting inmates when a phone goes missing in the pod. Purto joins the elite STIU team interview a gang member. A new rookie, Chaz, hits the line and hopes to live up to his father's legacy.

star 7.73
90 votes
Sink or Swim

#12 - Sink or Swim

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Sep 17, 2015

With a few months on the line under their belts, the rookies are beginning to understand the harsh realities of their new careers. Keith is at a crossroads while Andrew tries to find the balance needed to be an effective officer. The training wheels come off as Ariel is tested during an emergency.

star 7.73
74 votes
It's Personal

#13 - It's Personal

Season 2 - Episode 11 - Aired Nov 3, 2016

The administration steps up efforts to take down the SNM gang as violence is still rising in the prison. Israel and Purto shakedown cells of of high level SNM gang leaders and find out Purto's life may be in jeopardy. A leader of the SNM gang tells his story. Mangin and Cordova hit their 1 year anniversary as COs and witness a violent SNM gang fight. Chaz is beginning to come into his own as a correctional officer.

star 7.72
89 votes
No Room for Error

#14 - No Room for Error

Season 2 - Episode 7 - Aired Oct 6, 2016

Violence against New Mexico law enforcement is on the rise and even the smallest mistake can be devastating. Mangin joins the extraction to which must forcible remove an unwilling inmate from his cell. Israel makes an error while performing a drug test and Fabian loses track of inmates in his unit. Ariel starts a new post and goes too far to establish her authority and sets up a serious conflict.

star 7.71
93 votes
The Con Game

#15 - The Con Game

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Aug 27, 2015

Inmates are called convicts for good reason. Once inside, they have nothing but time to conjure up ingenious ways to hide contraband and manipulate COs. Mangin gets conned by a career criminal and Andrew helps STIU bust a drug dealing gang member. Ariel deals with the challenges of being a female CO.

star 7.70
91 votes

#16 - Respect

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Aug 13, 2015

The hardest lesson for a rookie CO to learn is the difference between forcing respect and earning it. New CO Andrew's aggressive approach rubs inmates the wrong way while Keith tries to get ahead of a potentially volatile situation. Francisco confronts a lying inmate and Ariel faces her first day on the line. And for one Rookie, the job proves to be too much.

star 7.69
131 votes
Survival of the Fittest

#17 - Survival of the Fittest

Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired Sep 15, 2016

Only the strong will survive in prison, for both inmates and officers alike. Purto and D'Angelo clash with antagonistic inmates. Lilly oversees a prison work program just a few steps away where SNM gang members recently murdered on of their own. Andrew hits the line and questions whether he is cut out for this job or not.

star 7.69
98 votes
A New Threat

#18 - A New Threat

Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired Aug 25, 2016

New rookie COs hit the line in New Mexico's prison system, where violence is at an all time high as the notorious SNM gang has declared war against all COs. Petite Lilly is desperate to prove herself, but is stuck doing traffic duty on here first day. D'Angelo goes head to head with a troublesome inmate. Seasoned rookies Mangin and Cordova face a new challenge when a dangerous ex gang member leaves his cell unrestrained and Christian must take action to prevent a fight between inmates from turning deadly.

star 7.63
136 votes

#19 - Gangland

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Aug 20, 2015

Gangs are the number one threat to maintaining order at PNM. Members are organized, loyal and often violent. Francisco responds to a fight while Tyler crosses the line with a gang leader. Keith assists PNM's elite gang unit and new CO Cohen Mangin aims to prove he has what it takes to follow in his family's footsteps.

star 7.59
114 votes
Is It Worth It?

#20 - Is It Worth It?

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Aug 6, 2015

Even the best training can't prepare a rookie Corrections Officer for the physical demands and emotional rollercoaster of their first year on the job. At the Penitentiary of New Mexico (PNM) a group of rookie COs embark on their new career. Zach experiences his first use of force, 19-year-old Tyler makes a frightening discovery, an unruly inmate tests Carlos and Ariel is out to prove everyone wrong.

star 7.56
190 votes